As the year of 2017 comes to a close, the playoff season for the National Football League is just beginning. Teams with higher records race to secure their spot in the playoffs while division leaders of the AFC and NFC focus on clinching their top seeds.
For both divisions of the NFL, multiple fates have already been decided. In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots have secured their respective division titles. The Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings from the NFC are title winners as well.
Although the regular season is almost over, a number of teams stay “in the hunt”, seeking a spot to compete towards the Super Bowl in February.
The end of the regular season is where the big question begins to be asked: who is going to the playoffs? While this question cannot be answered before the games are played, there are many different scenarios that could occur. Here are a number of situations that might just happen to play out before Super Bowl LII in February:
- AFC South: After the wild card round, both the Titans and the Jaguars remain as contenders in the playoffs. Tennessee will face off against the Patriots at their home field in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday January 13. Seeing the Titans’ performance last Saturday against the Chiefs and their shocking comeback from 3-21 halftime score, many believe they will have a chance against the Patriots. Meanwhile, the Jaguars travel to Pittsburgh to play against the Steelers on January 14. With a healthy, well-rested starting lineup including the “Killer Bees” (Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell), the Steelers have a strong chance of advancing to the AFC championship game.
- New England Patriots: Every NFL fan and sports watcher in general knows the name Tom Brady. The explosive and extraordinarily accomplished quarterback has quite a history of winning, especially in the playoffs. After all, he is the only player of all time to win five Super Bowls while playing for the same team. Alongside go-to tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman, Brady and the Patriots should have no problem defeating the Titans and playing in the championship game of the AFC.
- New Orleans Saints: Although the Saints have been inconsistent with their appearance in the playoffs over the years, the 2017-18 season has turned out to be one of their best yet. Star QB Drew Brees has exemplified his strong arm and passion for leadership by leading them to a winning record and a top four seed in the postseason. As they face off against the Vikings on Sunday afternoon, viewers should look out for New Orleans as they may just be one of the best teams in the league this year.
- The Bird Game: On January 13, the Eagles and Falcons will face off in Philadelphia. While the Eagles have the top seed of the league, second year QB Carson Wentz suffers from a torn ACL. Wentz has been a major component of forming the team into one of the best in the league this past season and his absence is clearly a ramification to the team. On the other hand, Philadelphia had one of the best records overall during the regular season (only three losses).
- Super Bowl at Home: The Minnesota Vikings have had a rocky past for years, sometimes having a winning season and sometimes not being so lucky. This year though, the team has been able to maintain a great record and only allow three losses throughout the season. Latavius Murray, running back traded from the Oakland Raiders, has had an outstanding performance and has contributed to one of the best seasons that the Vikings have ever had on record. With their 13-3 record, Minnesota has a strong chance of making it to the Super Bowl and playing the national championship at their own stadium in Minneapolis.
These are just a few of many situations that could occur before Super Bowl in 2018. Overall, there is a plethora of different situations that might go down in history before the year is over. Stay tuned to the NFL to see what ends up happening and how the rest of the 2017-18 season plays out.