The NFL Playoff Picture is starting to take shape. The NFL playoffs are an exciting time of year when teams compete to play in the Super Bowl, a game that is watched by millions of fans worldwide. NFL playoffs start on January 3. There are only two spots left to be decided, one for the NFC South champion and one AFC wildcard, but many of the seedings are still in doubt.
The NFL has two conferences, the AFC and the NFC. There are two wildcard teams in both conferences, and four division winners. In the AFC one wild card team will be the loser of the Bengals/Steelers game. There are several teams competing for the other spot. The current leader is the San Diego Chargers. They will get that spot if they win their game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The other NFL teams that have a chance at this final spot are the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans, and the Chiefs. The Ravens can make the playoffs if they win and the Chargers lose. The Chiefs and Texans chances are more complicated. There are a number of different scenarios that would have to come into play before the winner can be determined.
One thing that is clear about the AFC is that the New England Patriots will be the number one seed. That was determined when the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Denver Broncos during Monday Night Football, 37-28. The Broncos still have the best chance at the second seed, but they will need to win their last game against the Oakland Raiders.
The Bengals clinched a playoff spot with their victory. In order for the Bengals to take the division crown they will have to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have also clinched a playoff spot, and if they win the game, they win the division. The other division winner is the Indianapolis Colts.
In the NFC the NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape as well. Most of the races have already been decided, but the seedings have not. The only one up for grabs is the NFC South. The Carolina Panthers will play the Atlanta Falcons for the division title. The winner of that game will still be below 500, but will be able to host a playoff game against an opponent to be determined that will have a minimum of 11 wins.
This has happened recently in the NFL when the Seattle Seahawks won their division with a 7-9 record. They hosted the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs and beat them even though the Saints had a winning record.
The five teams that have clinched playoff spots in the NFC are all 11-4. The Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East with their dismantling of the Colts on Sunday, 42-7. The Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions will meet on Sunday to determine the winner of the NFC North. The loser will be one of the wildcard teams. The Seattle Seahawks can claim the NFC West with a win over the St. Louis Rams. If they lose and the Arizona Cardinals win over the San Francisco 49ers, then the Cardinals will be the champions of the NFC West.
The Super Bowl will be held in Arizona this year. If the Cardinals survive the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl, they will be the first team to host the Super Bowl in NFL history. That will be just one of the stories that will develop as the NFL playoff picture continues to take shape.
By Kerri Cushna
Photo by Brandi Korte – Flickr License