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Can you see it? Deep through the mist of wins and loses, bad calls and bad coaching, there’s a light. It seems like you can reach it and like that it’s snatched out of your hands like a pick six going the other way. That light at the end of the dark muggy regular season road is the playoffs and a good amount of teams still have their shot to get in.
The Big Shots
Oakland Raiders 10-3
The Raiders have been sensational this season. Playing in the best division in football, they’ve taken the reigns and made their mark as the new kids on the block (no not Donnie and those guys). Derek Carr has thrown his hat into the MVP race throwing 24 touchdowns against five picks (3,375 yards). They have a solid offensive line and good skill position guys in Michael Crabtree, Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper. The offense ranked third in points per game has carried the team to a tie with the second record in the AFC and poised to make a run at the Superbowl.
Dallas Cowboys 11-1
The Cowboys have won 11 straight games and counting. Their rookie tandom (Twin Peaks) of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott
have been nothing short of spectacular. Both will be on the short list for Rookie Of The Year and probably might get an MVP vote or two. The Cowboys are ranked second in rushing yards ( 1,870 yards ) and fifth in total points (333 yards). They totally control the line of scrimmage with their massive offensive line and their defense has stepped up in key situations. The Cowboys look to regain the glory days of the early 90’s and make a run to the Superbowl .
New England Patriots 10-2
The Patriots are the Patriots and they have coach Bill Belichick and a healthy Tom Brady at quarterback. The injury to tight end Rob Gronkowski might be a problem but coach Belichick will be sure to find some dude we never heard of and turn him into an All-Pro.
Seattle Seahawks 8-3-1
Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham have been the duo everyone in the country was expecting when they were united last season. They’ve hooked up 57 times for 769 yards and five touchdowns. Seattle’s defense has returned with its usual ferocity. The team has giving up a league low 194 total points in thirteen games and only three passing touchdowns.
The Best Of The Rest
Detroit Lions 8-4
The Lions are in first place in the NFC North. Mathew Stafford has thrown 21 touchdowns against only five interceptions. The defense has been solid, ranked 11th in total points. The Lions have separated themselves from the rest of their division and look to continue to play good and clinch a playoff berth.
New York Giants 8-4
The Giants’ defense has stepped up this year big time. Ranked eighth in points against, they’ve kept New York in every game this season. Eli Manning has 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in a down year for his team’s offense (31st in rushing yards) that’s usually top 10. The Giants will lean heavily on their defense until the playoffs when Eli Manning and company usually takes it up a notch.
Kansas City Chiefs 10-3
The Chiefs’ defense are ninth in points against, first in forced turnovers at 25 and have given up only 11 takeaways. Andy Reid and his band of men have controlled games this season by not letting them get out of hand. Which is great seeing as how their offense isn’t scary at all. The Chiefs have stiffed offenses and forced turnovers at the best times leading them to to be tied for the second best record in the AFC.
Denver Broncos 8-4
The defending Super Bowl Champions have found themselves smack dab in the middle of a dogfight in the AFC west. The defense has been their usual, great, this season ranking sixth on both yards against and points against. Von Miller continues his (Super Bowl) MVP performance this year with 13.5 sacks putting him at the top of the league in that category. The offense hasn’t done much and they’re near the bottom of the pack in total yards (27th). The defense must continue their stretch of stellar play if the Broncos want to return to the big game.
Atlanta Falcons 7-5
The High Flying Falcons are first in scoring and third in total yards. Matt Ryan has been masterful this season ranking third in both passing yards and touchdowns. His running mate Julio Jones is first in receiving yards and doubles as the best decoy in football on occasion. Teams can’t seem to figure out which way to defend them. When Jones is double (or triple) teamed, Ryan has a lot more weapons at his disposal. It’s a good thing for the rest of the NFL that the defense is ranked near the bottom of the league in yards against (27th), points against (29th) and passing yards against (32nd). They are at the top of their division at this point with a Tampa Buccaneers team that nobody is talking about and they are gaining ground on them.
Baltimore Ravens 7-5
The Ravens are ranked first in yards against and second in points against. In other words, you can’t score on them or at least go into the game with the idea that you will. You definitely can’t run on them, they’ve only given up four touchdowns on the ground. They are in first place in the AFC north with the hated rival Pittsburgh Steelers breathing down their necks.
Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5
The Steelers are once again a solid football team across the board. They are 12th in points and 7th in points against. Ben Roethlisberger is top 10 in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. The defense has caused 16 turnovers this season which is something you definitely don’t want to do, give the ball back to Roethlisberger and company. The Steelers play the Ravens on Christmas day in a game that will most likely decide the division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5
The Buccaneers have won four straight and are gaining ground in the NFC south. When they start running the football they continue to run even if they aren’t gaining big chunks of yards. Jameis Winston has 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to lead a middle of the pack Buccaneers offense. With a little more momentum, they might be able to snatched the division away from the Falcons. They might get in but…….
Houston Texans 6-6
The Texans have the same exact record as the second place and third place teams in their division. The difference is the Texans have a 5-1 home record and a 3-0 record withing thier division giving them the edge in a very mediocre AFC south. The Indianapolis Colts (6-6) and Tennessee Titans (6-6) only chance is to win the division is to of course beat out a Houston team that again is mediocre at best. The NFL might prefer the look of a young quarterback like Andrew Luck or Marcus Mariotta over the stumbling Texans offense.
Miami Dolphins 7-5
The Dolphins had a six-game winning streak come to a crashing halt with quarterback Ryan Tannehill doing his best Ryan Fitzpatrick impersonation (four ints) against the Ravens. With their record, they are a game out of the last wildcard. They hold a tie-breaker versus the Steelers but not versus Baltimore. They also can’t stay healthy enough to keep any momentum going. They still have an outside shot but will need some other things to happen.
Washington Redskins 6-5-1
The Redskins are second in total yards in the NFL. Kirk Cousins has dazzled defenses and is ranked 3rd in passing (3,811 yards ). Washington’s biggest problem is that they’re in a division with the Cowboys and Giants, well that and the fact that their defense is ranked in the low 20’s in points against and yards against.
Minnesota Vikings 6-6/ Green Bay Packers 6-6
Much like the second and third place teams in the AFC south, the Vikings and Packers have found themselves in the midst of a mediocre season. If only the two teams could combine forces. The Packers are 11th in points while the Vikings rank fourth in points against. Each team ranks in the twenties on the other side of the ball which has led to their .500 records.