The Race to Minnesota: Week 14

So, the question is, does anybody want to take control in the Play Off race?! With the exception a few of the front runners it seems most teams want to leave it to the last minute before they secure their spot, losing games you would expect them to win or somehow capitulating spectacularly to hand the advantage back to their rivals.

Here is how the Play Off picture looks after Week 14:

The Steelers took sole control of the Number 1 seed this week courtesy of their win over the Ravens and the Patriots stumbling against the Dolphins. These two go head to head this week and it might just decide the route to the Super Bowl for the other AFC teams. Pittsburgh or New England in January? Either way, don’t pack the shorts!

The Jaguars handed defeat to the Seahawks whilst the Titans fell apart against the Cardinals to give the Jaguars a clear run at the division title from here. With the Texans and the 49ers up in the next two weeks, it could all be over by the time they play the Titans in Week 17.

The Chiefs regained some early season spark against the hapless Raiders to fend off their challenge, but it’s the Chargers up this week and that will be a much tougher test.

The Bills sneak back in to the Wild Card spots (presumably hidden in all that snow!) and replace the Ravens. The Bills play the Dolphins twice and the Patriots before season end, so they will certainly have earned their place if they can hold on to it.

In the hunt

Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – with the Browns, Colts and Bengals still to come, the Ravens would have to be confident of making 10-6. If they do, it should be enough to get them in. This is the Ravens however.

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) – the Chargers continue their impressive run and take on the Chiefs this week at Arrowhead. The Raiders tried and failed. The Chargers could well try and succeed. If they do, they’ll take the lead in the West and control their own destiny.

Oakland Raiders (6-7) – a complete and utter capitulation in their biggest game of the season to date puts the Raiders behind in the race again. Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers all still to come means they aren’t making the Play Offs in my book. You can’t play like they did Sunday and expect to make it.

Miami Dolphins (6-7) – So we all saw the Dolphins beating the Patriots, right? Right? It’s an outside shot for them at this stage, but playing the Bills twice and the Chiefs means they have a big part to play in the AFC picture and who knows? Win them all and they might just sneak it.

The Jets and Bengals are still hanging around, but the Bengals’ loss to the Bears put a big dent in their chances and the Jets will be moving forward without McCown it seems, so it’s really an outside bet for both of them now I think.

 

In the NFC, things are getting tighter than the wallet of the Green Bay Packers’ front office.

The Eagles surrendered the Number 1 overall seed to the Vikings last week, only to see it handed back to them this week as the Vikings succumbed to the Panthers defense. That was about the only good news for Eagles fans this week though as Carson Wentz is lost for the season with a knee injury. They clinched their Play Off berth and won the NFC East with their win over the Rams, but I’d bet Eagles fans would give both of those back in exchange for Wentz being fit without hesitation.

The NFC South shall henceforth be known as the Division of Ridiculousness. The Falcons beat the Saints and the Panthers beat the Vikings and now three teams sit in the Play Offs with at least an 8-5 record. They all still have vital divisional games to come yet, and you can bet the Buccaneers would just love to spoil someone’s party.

The Rams went down fighting against the Eagles but maintained their one game advantage in the West thanks to the Jaguars who beat the…

In the hunt

Seattle Seahawks (8-5) – they were manhandled by the Jaguars on Sunday and Russell Wilson couldn’t do it all this week (although gave it his best shot) before things turned ugly at the end of the game. They don’t like losing in Seattle. A big game against the Rams this week for Pete Carroll’s men.

It is still the Lions, Packers and Cowboys leading the chasing pack and they all sit at 7-6. They will all be watching Atlanta and Seattle with interest as their best options for joining the party. The way the NFC race has gone so far, I wouldn’t bet against at least one of them making it!

Until next week…