NFL Week 18 Playoff Picture

NFL Week 18 Playoff Picture

HAPPY NEW YEAR, football fans! Well at least it’s a “happy new year” if you’re a fan of one of the nine NFL teams that have clinched a playoff berth. This leaves only six spots left, and there are 11 teams vying for those six openings with just one more week to go. Now that’s some NFL math that I can actually have fun trying to solve! Let’s take a “downfield read” at what the current standings look like, and who has the upper hand/best shot of making it to the big tourney…along with who might crumble under the pressure. This is January football, baby!!

NFC Playoffs

Admittedly, the NFC is pretty much set unless there is some kind of weird anomaly that happens. The San Francisco 49ers have the number one seed all locked up whether they win, lose or draw this week. But their opponent is the Los Angeles Rams. While the Rams have a playoff spot clinched, will that spot be the number six or the number seven seed? My predictions is that since the Rams are HOT recently, and this game means nothing to the niners so they will be resting their starters, the Rams will win and hold onto that sixth seed.

The Dallas Cowboys currently hold the number two seed, and they are playing the second WORST team in the NFL, the Washington Commanders, and I don’t see them losing this one seeing as how they DO have a reason to play. IF the Boys were to lose AND the Philadelphia Eagles win, Dallas would drop to number five. Hence, they will drop another digit in the Commander’s LOSS COLUMN and make my preseason prediction of them going 3-14 100% ACCURATE. Thank you for sucking, Washington!

The Detroit Lions are coming off a terrible (stolen game) loss vs Dallas last week, after beating the Minnesota Vikings the week before, 30-24. Well, now the Lions have the Vikings AGAIN, but this time it’s in Detroit, which means…another win for Detroit. Two preseason predictions will have come true with this win: first is that the Lions are the NFC North Champions, and second is that the Vikings would finish 7-10, and land third in the NFC North. Boom! Lions with the number three seed, and a HOME PLAYOFF GAME!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently hold the fourth seed in the NFC, but just by the thread of their eye patch! They could lose their game this week, go 8-9, and potentially land OUT of the playoffs! BUT, since they are playing the WORST team in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers, who literally have NOTHING to play for (unless you’re a Panther in the last year of your contract and want to get the hell out of Carolina), the Bucs will easily win this game and clinch the number four spot. Will Baker Mayfield win Comeback Player of the Year?

By default, the Philadelphia Eagles will hold the number five spot regardless if they win or lose. They are currently 11-5 along with the Cowboys and Lions, but unfortunately the Eagles lose the tiebreakers. The Rams are the best team behind the Eagles, and if/when they beat the 49ers, the Rams will only be 10-7. So, the Eagles will be eyeing the scoreboard during their own game to see how the Cowboys (who are playing at the same time) are doing. IF the Cowboys are stomping the Commanders, Philly will probably sit their starters. If by some miracle Washington keeps it close, look for the Eagles to step on the gas and fold their hands in prayer.

The Green Bay Packers currently hold the FINAL spot in the playoffs at 8-8, with the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints right behind them with the same record! The Packers are playing at Lambeau Field against…the Chicago Bears! Oof! This is the most anticipated game in the NFC this weekend. None of the other games are going to be as exciting or determine as much as this game. The Bears have been playing well, winning four of their last five, AND they have the #1 draft pick locked up for next year (from the Carolina Panthers) so they aren’t playing to lose. Chicago Quarterback Justin Fields is looking to prove that he should STAY in a Bears jersey next year, and that Chicago SHOULDN’T draft his replacement. Packers QB Jordan Love is looking to prove that he can get Green Bay to the playoffs WITHOUT Aaron Rodgers and start his own legacy! This is going to be a GREAT game, but I don’t see the Packers losing at Lambeau in this “prove you belong as the starting QB” NFC North match-up. The Packers haven’t been terrific at Lambeau this year (4-3), but the Bears have won only TWO games on the road this year, which is tied for second worst in the NFC behind Washington.

The Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints will have much to think about in the offseason for not making the playoffs this year. I think both teams will win this week against the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons respectively and finish 9-8 along with the Buccaneers, and Packers. But as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. As a “side note”, Seattle finishing third in the NFC West behind the 49ers and Rams, falls in line with my preseason prediction as well.

AFC Playoffs

I feel like the AFC is just so much more exciting than the NFC this year! Much like the 49ers in the NFC, the Baltimore Ravens have the number one seed wrapped up after destroying the Miami Dolphins last week, 56-19. HOWEVER, their opponent this week is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are currently one of the “odd teams out” right now sitting in the number nine spot. Since the Ravens can’t lose or improve on their number one seed, they are going to sit most of their starters, which will make this a win ripe for the picking for the Steelers. I predict that Pittsburgh wins this game because they absolutely need to, but let’s see if that’s enough to get them into the playoffs.

The Miami Dolphins hold the second seed in the AFC, but intriguingly, they play their division rivals, the Buffalo Bills. IF the Bills win this game, they will have the same record as the Dolphins but due to tiebreakers, the Bills would become the second seed by winning the AFC East! Yes, the Bills have been hot as of late, and yes, the Dolphins have some injuries, HOWEVER, much like the Bills’ first game of the season against the Jets, this game is going to get away from them IN Miami. If they were playing this game in Buffalo I would give the edge to the Bills, but Miami is tough at home (7-1), and the Bills are 3-4 on the road. The Dolphins have had the third easiest schedule this year, but the Bills have had the five easiest. Miami will keep the number two spot.

The Kansas City Chiefs are firmly in the number three slot, and I really don’t see them losing to the LA Chargers…even if the game is being played in Los Angeles. The Chiefs can’t move up, and they can’t move down, so it really doesn’t matter what they do, and this game has zero implications. They will play the sixth seed in the playoffs in Kansas City in the Wild Card Round.

The number four seed in the AFC is currently held by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 9-7 just like the Indianapolis Colts, and the Houston Texans, who are ALL in the AFC South. The good news for the Jags is that they are playing the Tennessee Titans this week, and they have nothing to play for. The bad news is that Jacksonville might be without their starting QB, Trevor Lawrence. THAT very well might be the deciding factor in this game. I don’t think there’s any way that you’re keeping Lawrence out of this game unless it is a “major” injury. IF it is, and IF the Jags win, then Jacksonville will be toast in the playoffs against the Cleveland Browns the following week anyway.

Speaking of the Browns…they hold the fifth spot and they can’t lose it. They also can’t move up and catch the Ravens. Whoever wins the AFC South will be hosting Cleveland and “January Joe” Flacco…and they will lose. Seriously, I’ll take the Browns over the Colts, Texans, or Jags here. Cleveland hosts the Bengals this week in a game that doesn’t matter except to sharpen themselves and give Flacco the opportunity to solidify himself as the Comeback Player of the Year.

The Buffalo Bills currently hold the number six seed, and I’ve already said that I project them to lose this week in Miami. At that point, they will have to settle for a Wild Card spot, HOWEVER, that’s ONLY if either Pittsburgh OR Jacksonville loses…or if Indy and Houston tie, which is highly unlikely. Since I’ve already revealed that the Steelers are likely to beat the Ravens, and Jackson is likely to beat the Titans (if Lawrence plays), this means the IF the Bills lose, they are done. Sorry Buffalo fans. At least you won’t have to destroy any more fold-up tables. Bills fans had better hope that Lawrence doesn’t play.

Currently in the seventh seed are the Indianapolis Colts, who are hosting the Houston Texans in the final week of the regular season. This is a great game too! Not only because the winner goes to the playoffs and the loser goes home, but because they are division rivals! These two teams are so equally matched that it could go either way. Indy isn’t great at home (4-4), and Houston isn’t good on the road (3-4). Both teams are .500 over the last month, going 2-2. The only reason why I’m going with the Colts here is because of home field advantage, and because they have a veteran quarterback.

But what does it all mean, Basil?! It means that the current top five teams will remain the top five teams, in the same order as they are now. Buffalo will lose and fall out of the playoffs completely, while the Colts will climb up to number six, and the Steelers will sneak into the seventh seed. This makes for some very interesting match-ups in the first round. Good luck, everyone and thanks for the “read”!


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