There are just two weeks left in the regular season, which means it's a football free-for-all. This is the point when we all become heavily invested in the outcomes of games we normally wouldn't even register because PLAYOFFS, BABY!!! Let's break it down by division and see who's still got a shot.
Division Leader: Dallas (10-4)
Still Hanging On: Philadelphia (9-5)
Not So Much: NY Giants (5-9), Washington (3-11)
Last night, the Cowboys steamrolled the Eagles in a 38-27 win that put them atop the NFC East. By my estimation, this was the Eagles' strategy for the game: "18 minutes of possession should be all we need to win, so let's go down 21, then score 24 unanswered points, THEN turn over the ball three times in the last 16 minutes. Oh, also, we'll use the three-man rush against one of the best offensive lines in the league and a single high safety to cover Dez Bryant. PLAYOFFS, HERE WE COME!!!"
Dallas still has to play Indy at home and then travel to Washington, but if they win both games, they're on the road to Arizona. The Eagles will need to win both of their remaining games (Washington and the Giants) just to stay in the picture.
Oh, also, this happened.
Division Leader: Detroit (10-4)
Still Hanging On: Green Bay (10-4)
Not So Much: Minnesota (6-8), Chicago (5-8)
Since Green Bay lost to Buffalo (?!?!) yesterday, this division will likely come down to the Week 17 game between the Packers and Lions. Detroit is ahead of Dallas based on head-to-head, so if the Eagles manage to win the NFC East, the Cowboys could get bumped out of the Wild Card spot by the Lions.
Other lessons from Week 15: here's how not to run a two-minute drill.
Yeah. That's a safety.
Division Leader: Carolina (5-8-1)
Still Hanging On: New Orleans (5-8), Atlanta (5-9)
Not So Much: Tampa Bay (2-12)
I can't believe one of these trash teams is guaranteed a playoff bid while 10-win teams are battling it out for Wild Card slots. I don't even care who goes.
Division Leader: Arizona (11-3)
Still Hanging On: Seattle (10-4)
Not So Much: San Francisco (7-7), St. Louis (6-8)
Seattle knocked the Niners out of the playoffs yesterday, and they are coming for Arizona next. Week 16 Game of the Week? It is in my book. The Cardinals held off the Rams on Thursday night to clinch their playoff spot but lost QB Drew Stanton in the process. Ryan Lindley came in for Stanton and put up a performance that ESPN referred to as "ineffective,"** but the kid hasn't taken a snap since 2012, so can you blame him? I heard some commentator (Cris? Al? Post-game crew? I can't remember.) joke about bringing Kurt Warner back, which is definitely the kind of talk you want to hear two weeks before the playoffs. Fun times in Arizona.
**"Ineffective" is my new favorite sports euphemism.
Division Champ: New England (11-3)
Still Hanging On: Buffalo (8-6), Miami (7-7)
Not So Much: NY Jets (3-11)
Here's where we start having fun. None of the NFC divisions have been decided, but we'll be shuffling nine teams into six slots, so it's not all that complicated. The AFC already has three division champs -- and NINE teams competing for the remaining three spots.
The Patriots, as usual, have already won their division. Remember how the Pats started this season super shitty, pulled it together halfway through, and have been on a roll ever since? That summary could also apply to yesterday's game where the Pats were down 14-13 at the half to Miami. Though this blocked field goal on the Dolphins' opening drive was a first-half highlight.
New England won 41-13, so...yeah, I'm okay with them winning the division. Miami is hanging on by a thread and basically needs the AFC North (we'll get to them in a sec) to self-destruct to have a fighting chance.
Buffalo is behind Kansas City and San Diego for the Wild Card spot and has to end the season against the Pats, so I wouldn't put their playoff chances at "strong" either. Then again, the Bills beat Green Bay and did this in the process, so anything could happen.
Division Leader: Cincinnati (9-4-1)
Still Hanging On: Pittsburgh (9-5), Baltimore (9-5), Cleveland (7-7)
This was my summary of the AFC North at this point last year: Ugh, these teams...This division is so all over the place that I can’t even figure out who’s worth paying attention to. (Easy answer: none of them.)
Not gonna lie, I'm not convinced that's not still an accurate assessment. I don't understand ANY of these teams. The Bengals shut out the Browns yesterday after getting spanked by the Steelers in Week 14, a team who barely held off the Falcons. Just...WHAT?! This was a fun moment in the Ohio rivalry game.
The variations on what's needed for which teams to make the playoffs make my head hurt. Here are some Week 16 scenarios that would help make sense of things.
- Cincinnati beats Denver, secures division title: HAHAHAHAHA, like that's going to happen.
- Pittsburgh beats Kansas City, secures playoff spot: Possible, but the Chiefs want that playoff spot BAD.
- Baltimore beats Houston AND Steelers and Bengals both lose, secures playoff spot: Most likely situation of the three, but do we trust Baltimore to beat the Texans?
Let's just come back to these guys in Week 17 and see where it all shakes out.
Division Champ: Indianapolis (10-4)
Still Hanging On: Houston (7-7)
Not So Much: Tennessee (2-12), London (2-12)
The Colts won the division by beating the Texans yesterday, but Houston's not done yet. But they too need the AFC North to self-destruct, and that's not a great position to be in.
I don't have anything else to say about these teams, so here's some video of Andrew Luck "talking shit." That kid is weird.
Division Champ: Denver (11-3)
Still Hanging On: Kansas City (8-6), San Diego (8-6)
Not So Much: Oakland (2-12)
Denver's win over the Chargers locked them into the playoffs. A win against the Bengals this week will lock them into a first-round bye, so let's go ahead and assume that's going to happen. Way to go, Broncos!
The Chiefs and Chargers will face each other in Week 17 in a game that will decide their playoff fate, so...not much else to say here. Except, was anyone else surprised to see the Chiefs are only at 8-6? I thought they were at least at 9-5, but it turns out their win against Oakland snapped a three-game losing streak. How nice of the Raiders to help them out.