Predicting the 2014 NFL Playoffs Bracket as of Week 15
Predicting the NFL Playoff Bracket
Week 15 of the NFL regular season is nearly upon us. And although the two conferences appear to be vastly different when it comes to quality of teams both conferences appear they will be battling for playoff seeding right down to the final week. So far the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts are the only teams that have clinched a playoff berth, and the Colts are the only team to have wrapped up their division. That means seven of the eight division titles and nine of 12 playoff spots are still up for grabs with three weeks to play in the regular season. This should shape up to be interesting down the stretch.
The Week 15 schedule shows some games that will have direct playoff implications. Just to highlight a few the Green Bay Packers hope there is a chance to get Aaron Rodgers back for their matchup with the Dallas Cowboys as both teams are competing not only for a division crown but perhaps even a wild card spot with a lot of help. The Miami Dolphins will host the New England Patriots, and although a division title is unlikely for the Dolphins as they would have to win out, a win against the leader would be a great start. But perhaps the biggest game of the week comes on Monday night as the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens take on the 7-6 Detroit Lions. The Lions hold the tiebreaker over the Chicago Bears, helping them to hold onto the NFC North lead for now. The Ravens are currently holding onto the final wild card spot, but they have a handful of teams breathing down their neck waiting for them to slip up.
With these games, as well as some great ones for the final two weeks, it is pretty safe to say that the playoff picture right now is much different than what the final result will be. But that's what predictions are for. So here is my prediction for the final playoff seedings in the NFL.
AFC No. 1 Seed - Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning proved some of his cold weather haters wrong with his impressive performance last week. The Broncos have a tough turnaround to a game on Thursday night and might be without Wes Welker, but if they can escape they are in the driver's seat for home field throughout.
AFC No. 2 Seed - New England Patriots
I don't think the injury to Rob Gronkowski will have a major impact on the Pats until the postseason begins. I think with Tom Brady and a healthy Shane Vereen they can at least go 2-1 down the stretch which will clinch the No. 2 seed and that all important first round bye.
AFC No. 3 Seed - Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton is as inconsistent as it comes, but he still has his Bengals in good position to win the AFC North and take the No. 3 seed. If they win the next two weeks as they should, they will make the final game against the Ravens not important to them as the division will already by wrapped up.
AFC No. 4 Seed - Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are lucky that they are perhaps in one of the worst divisions ever because the injuries and lack of an offensive line have made this team a shell of what they were earlier in the year. They will take the home game in the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, but I don't expect much beyond that.
AFC No. 5 Seed - Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs snapped their losing streak in impressive fashion last week, but the truth of the matter is they went 0-2 against the Broncos and will likely have a top three record in the AFC but be the wild card. If they take care of the Colts in the first round they will get another rematch with Denver.
AFC No. 6 Seed - San Diego Chargers
I'm picking the San Diego Chargers because they have the quarterback that I have the most faith in of the remaining teams battling for the final wild card spot. Philip Rivers is playing at an MVP level, and if they can somehow beat the Broncos on Thursday night (tough task) they will have a good chance to run the table to 9-7. The Chiefs might not have anything to play for in Week 17, and I see the Dolphins and Ravens slipping up at some point.
NFC No. 1 Seed - Seattle Seahawks
Despite the loss to the San Francisco 49ers the Seattle Seahawks look like the strongest team in the league, and the home-field advantage will be huge as they won their biggest game of the season against the Saints.
NFC No. 2 Seed - New Orleans Saints
The Saints also got the big win they needed when they took care of the Panthers last week. This all but wraps up the division for the Saints which is huge because they are drastically better at home than they are on the road. They still have that huge Week 16 matchup with the Panthers looming.
NFC No. 3 Seed - Philadelphia Eagles
Now that the Panthers finally lost the Philadelphia Eagles are the hottest team in football. Even in the blizzard last week they were able to ground and pound their way to victory. They have a tough game against the Bears and Week 17 might be their play-in game against the Cowboys, but the Cowboy D is just so horrible I think Philly is the front-runner for the NFC East.
NFC No. 4 Seed - Chicago Bears
The defense has been bad, but the Bears' offense is clicking on all cylinders better than I've ever seen it. Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery might be the toughest offensive trio in all the league. They need to win out (which is possible), but they also need the Lions to drop a game along the way to get this No. 4 seed.
NFC No. 5 Seed - San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers trail the Panthers via head-to-head tiebreaker, but San Fran has a very easy schedule the rest of the way and their offense is now at full force with Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham back.
NFC No. 6 Seed - Carolina Panthers
The Panthers will edge out the Arizona Cardinals for the final playoff spot because of that phenomenal defense. They need to have a much better showing at home against the Saints than they did in New Orleans, but this team is talented enough to go 2-1 at worst down the stretch which will put them in. The Cardinals still have to face Seattle and San Francisco.