Cardinal surge, Patriots are back, and the playoffs continue to thin out the pretenders
- The Cardinals first half of the season went about as well as it could have. They beat the teams they should have and dropped a couple to St. Louis and Pittsburgh and many questioned how they would fare against winning teams. With a win against Minnesota, I think it is clear the Cardinals may very well be the second best team in the NFC. Everything for Arizona seems to click. The trust between the wide receivers and quarterback is next to none in the league and the defense often goes unnoticed. The Vikings on the other hand seem to have the opposite problem. They seem to have a tough time against good teams. Teddy Bridgewater played miles better than he did against the Seahawks and if it wasn’t for a final drive fumble, we would be talking about his heroics instead. The game lived up to everything I would want against two power house teams and hope to see them play again in the playoffs.
- This time last week, Patriots were in a two game skid, sitting in the third place seed and a possibility of playing on wildcard weekend. Well one week later they are the top seeded AFC team with the same quarterback that they had in week 1. With the Broncos and Bengals both losing, they have won their spot back on top of the AFC. Getting Rob Gronkowski back seems to make the difference between winning and losing for the Patriots. With the win in Houston, this clinches another playoff spot New England, their 13th in fifteen years. You will never convince me there is a better star/coach combination than Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
- I fear I may have jinxed the Bengals when I said they have avoided major injury. With Andy Dalton going down with a thumb injury, they are going to have to rally behind AJ McCarron to try and take the division. The Steelers took a big step in trying to take the division right from under the Bengals by winning in Cincinnati. While the Steelers have learned how to battle through their injuries early on, the Bengals will need to hope that they can pull off at least one more win before the season is over and that Andy Dalton can make it back in time for the playoffs. The AFC Wildcard picture has turned into a three team race between the Chiefs, Jets, and Steelers. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they are going to have to pretty much win out to ensure they get a shot to play in the playoffs.
- I thought the AFC East was making a resurgence but both Houston and Indianapolis have dropped two straight, At one point it looked as if one of those teams might make the wild card, but now they have dropped two back of the other contenders, it is a race for the division. The Jaguars are now only a game out and could make a run at the division if they win out. But let’s be real, this is a two team race for the East. Smart money would say bet on the team with the quarterback but then there is the other side that says defense wins championships and with JJ Watt championing the Texans D, it is hard to pick against them as well. I know it is unfortunate both teams have losing records but at least the race is exciting. With three weeks left, you can’t call this one until week 17 is over.
- Lets end the week with what we know for sure; while the AFC has nine teams still in the playoff hunt and seeding nowhere near being set, the NFC playoffs may technically have eight teams still in the running but three of those are from the same division. The other five are all set. Seeding is still a mystery but it is clear Arizona, Seattle, Carolina, Green Bay and Minnesota are getting it. Seeing any of those teams play each other would be an absolute treat. The NFC playoff bracket is going to have the most fun games to watch. The AFC may have saw the Patriots slide for a couple of weeks but is there anyone really picking against them to go to the Super Bowl?