When I began this exercise after the 2014 NFL Draft, I had no idea where it would end up. Seriously. I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan and I do believe the Eagles will make the playoffs this season. I have a feeling the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals will be pretty good. And the Seattle Seahawks might be the best team in the NFL.
But as for how – and if – we got to those beliefs, well, I was going let this thing play out. Whatever happened from week to week would happen. I picked with my gut instinct. That’s about it. No scientific method. No in-depth analysis. This was meant to be a diversion from the fact that we had a long time between the draft and training camp, which begins Saturday. So, for me, it worked. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed the ride, as well.
As we enter the final week of the NFL regular season, here’s a look at how things stand:
|New England Patriots||11||4|
|New York Jets||4||11|
|Kansas City Chiefs||7||8|
|San Diego Chargers||5||10|
|New York Giants||10||5|
|Green Bay Packers||9||6|
|New Orleans Saints||8||7|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3||12|
|San Francisco 49ers||10||5|
|St. Louis Rams||5||10|
If the season really plays out this way, well, wow, we’re in for quite a finish. In the AFC, the top seed is up for grabs, plus you have Buffalo and New England playing for a division title.
In the NFC, we know Seattle is going to the playoffs and will be the No. 1 seed. That’s about it. No other division or wild card is settled, and much of that will be settled on the field, head-to-head.
I didn’t plan it this way. It just happened. Boy, would it be fun.
Without further delay, let’s get on with the picks and see how this thing shakes out.
Panthers @ Falcons: It’s the battle for the NFC South and it’s happening in Atlanta. It will be the first of many classic games on the day, as this one goes to the visitors. The Panthers are going to the playoffs. Carolina 30, Atlanta 27
Browns @ Ravens: This is a meaningless game for Baltimore. They’re locked in to a wild card spot. They’ll use this time to rest, and Cleveland takes advantage. Cleveland 33, Baltimore 17
Cowboys @ Redskins: Two NFC East rivals playing a meaningless game. Washington 16, Dallas 12
Lions @ Packers: Tricky pick here. Green Bay, at home, against a Lions team with little to play for. But Detroit, while they’ve stumbled, is too good to go quietly. Green Bay gets a little taste of its own medicine and, this time, loses out in Week 17. Detroit 24, Green Bay 17
Colts @ Titans: Indianapolis wins to stay in the hunt for a bye. Indianapolis 23, Tennessee 10
Jaguars @ Texans: Bill O’Brien wins in his rookie finale. Houston 40, Jacksonville 17
Chargers @ Chiefs: Andy Reid does what he does best, winning a few late, meaningless games to finish at 8-8 and leave a city hoping for better days around the corner. Kansas City 27, San Diego 23
Jets @ Dolphins: Hopefully it’s a good beach day in Miami, because there is no reason to go to or watch this game. Miami 7, New York Jets 6
Bears @ Vikings: Chicago completes its turnaround and clinches a division title. Chicago 32, Minnesota 10
Bills @ Patriots: There is a new top dog in the AFC East. “Circle the wagons.” Buffalo 28, New England 26
Bengals @ Steelers: The Bengals win another won to give the AFC two teams with 13 wins. Cincinnati 34, Pittsburgh 18
Saints @ Buccaneers: The Saints win, but it’s too late to save their season. New Orleans 20, Tampa Bay 14
Raiders @ Broncos: Denver makes it three AFC teams with 13 wins. Sorting out the bye is going to be tough. Denver 42, Oakland 14
Cardinals @ 49ers: San Francisco validates the mid-season decision to keep Jim Harbaugh and reaches the playoffs. Arizona, meanwhile, has to wait to see how things play out. San Francisco 25, Arizona 16
Rams @ Seahawks: Seattle takes a week off. St. Louis 21, Seattle 17
Eagles @ Giants: Another Eagles’ season comes down to a do-or-die Week 17 tilt. On the road. And they’ll get it done. Eli Manning throws three interceptions and this one won’t ever be close. Philadelphia 30, New York Giants 13
So, what does all of it mean?
In the AFC, Denver clinches the top seed by virtue of having beaten both the Colts and Bengals (not to mention they went 11-1 in the conference).
Both the Bengals and Colts went 10-2 in the conference, but Cincinnati won the head-to-head matchup, 28-21, giving them the No. 2 seed.
That puts the Colts at No. 3, Buffalo at No. 4, New England at No. 5 and Baltimore at No. 6. That also gives us a wild card rematch, as Buffalo and New England will play in back-to-back weeks. Cool.
In the NFC, Seattle is the No. 1 seed with their 12-4 record. Carolina, thanks to their win over the Eagles on Monday Night Football, earn the tiebreaker and take the No. 2 seed.
That gives the Eagles the No. 3 seed (and means if they win their playoff opener, they avoid Seattle for another week). Chicago, at 10-6, takes the final division title and the No. 4 seed.
San Francisco went 11-5 in the tough NFC West and earned a wild card spot, sending them to Soldier Field for the postseason opener.
The final spot comes down to either Arizona or the New York Giants. Who knew the playoffs would be decided in Week 2. That’s when the Giants hosted the Cardinals and won, 27-21, giving them the edge and the second wild card. They’ll visit the Philadelphia Eagles for the playoffs, meaning the Eagles will need to try to defeat New York for the third time this season.
Here’s a look at the completed NFL standings. See you Saturday for the playoffs.
|New England Patriots||11||5|
|New York Jets||4||12|
|Kansas City Chiefs||8||8|
|San Diego Chargers||5||11|
|New York Giants||10||6|
|Green Bay Packers||9||7|
|New Orleans Saints||9||7|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3||13|
|San Francisco 49ers||11||5|
|St. Louis Rams||6||10|
Tags: Philadelphia Eagles