The post-Christmas season is perhaps the best time of the year for American Football fans. Even though it’s not even week 17 in the NFL, many eyes are beginning to turn towards the playoffs. It’s not hard to blame them either, with only the Steelers and Jets jockeying to be included in the top 12 teams. Everybody else is playing for positioning, so without further adieu, let me introduce you to the wild card playoff and potential wild card playoff teams:
Pittsburgh Steelers: If there’s anybody listening to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” it’s this Steelers team. Right now on the outside looking in, they have to win against the Cleveland Browns (not a hard task) and hope the Buffalo Bills beat the New York Jets. Crazier things have happened, sure, but don’t get your hopes up Steelers fans. That being said, if they can make it, they’re a force to be reckoned with. I could easily imagine this Steelers team playing for a 7th Super Bowl in San Francisco. If they make the playoffs.
New York Jets: Win and they’re in. It’s just that simple. And it’s not like this is a bad team that got lucky. The Jets are sneaky good. The one potential matchup I don’t like for them is potentially at the Kansas City Chiefs. Otherwise I could easily see this team do well against every other team in the playoffs, including the Patriots.
Kansas City Chiefs: Where to begin with this team? Clearly they’re one of the best in the AFC right now. Winning potentially ten games in a row leading into the playoffs and looking more powerful each week is not something you see from bad or even average teams. This team is my personal pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year hands down. Anything is possible for sure, but if they somehow manage to gain a home field advantage in the Wild Card game their opponent better mutter prayers throughout the entire game. Because they’re gonna need all the miracles plus one to beat this Chiefs team.
Houston Texans: Even though this team could finish 8-8, NEVER underestimate a playoff team at home. The playoffs are entirely different animal, and home field advantage takes on an entirely new meaning in the playoffs. Just ask the 2010 New Orleans Saints and the 2014 Arizona Cardinals. Nevertheless, the Houston Texans should be hoping for a matchup between them and the Denver Broncos the most. I think the aforementioned Jets and Chiefs are just too good and the Broncos give the Texans the best shot to move on to most likely the Patriots.
Cincinnati Bengals: I’m so sorry Cincinnati fans. If the Broncos beat the Chargers next week then you’re just s.o.l. I have little faith in the Bengals because you’ve been good before but somehow lose everything you gained in the playoffs. Especially without Andy Dalton, my faith-o-meter is just above zero. I’m not saying you don’t have a chance, everybody has a chance in the playoffs (see the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants), but other teams would die to play you in the playoffs. Your best shot at moving on? The other team keeling over and dying of a heart attack.
Denver Broncos: Best case scenario? Beating the Chargers and getting a bye for the Wild Card. Worst Case Scenario? Losing to the Chargers, the Jets winning and having to travel to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Chiefs. Again, my faith-o-meter is barely above zero, and while it’s higher than the Bengals I don’t see this team beating the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium.
Patriots fans don’t worry. You’ve got the bye during Wild Card week.
Seattle Seahawks: This team can do it. Maybe. They’ve definitely gotten better since the start of the season, but they’re not as good as they’ve been the past two seasons. They have at least an even matchup in the playoffs against either the Vikings or Packers. Their best shot would be against the Redskins, but that matchup is highly unlikely at this point. I don’t expect to see them make it past the second round.
Minnesota Vikings: For all their talk about not wanting to see Green Bay win the NFC North again, it might be in their best interests to lose this week and hope Seattle loses to Arizona. If Seattle does as they hope they would get a favorable matchup against the Redskins and potentially avoid a game against the Arizona Cardinals until the Conference Championship. Making it to the Super Bowl with the stacked teams waiting for them in the Divisional Round is a tall order, but they could do it. Especially if they play it tactically.
Washington Redskins: For all the hate they’re getting from me (they’re the team all the other NFC teams want to play in the Wild Card), they’re going to get more love than the Bengals and the Broncos. Why? Because I’ve seen this before, 8 years ago and 4 years ago by another NFC East team called the Giants. Nobody gave them any chance either of those years, and this Redskins team reminds me of both of those squads. Does that mean they’re going to make it out of Wild Card weekend? Hell no. Their best bet to get out alive and advance to play either the Cardinals or Panthers is through the Vikings in the Wild Card weekend. And that’s hardly a good bet.
Green Bay Packers: Again, this team should be looking to lose this weekend to play the Redskins. This time it’s easier: they lose, they play the Redskins, profit. As much as they’d probably love to play at Lambeau Field, their best bet goes through FedEx Field. The critics would absolutely hate this because they’d miss out on a potential ratings bonanza between the Seahawks and Packers. That being said if they continue to play the way they played against Arizona last week this Packers team isn’t making it past the Divisionals, even if they play Seattle or Minnesota in Lambeau.
Cardinals and Panthers have both clinched the bye week.
With all that said and done, this appears like it’s going to be an entertaining Wild Card weekend no matter who wins or loses. I have never been more excited for the playoffs (okay that’s a lie. When I was 7 and watching my Buccaneers steamroll their way to a Super Bowl XXXVII victory, THAT was exciting). They will no doubt entertain everyone. Except for Bengals fans. For them it’ll likely be painful. (P.S. I will seriously eat my words if they win. And if they do y’all can comment with whatever humiliating punishment I should face. Nothing too extreme like running around in a bra though.)