Wednesday Morning QB (NFL Week 14)

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The NFL is only three weeks away from beginning the playoffs and that means the playoff picture is becoming more solid. Teams are beginning to lock up their positions in the playoffs but there is still plenty of room for the last three weeks. The NFC is the conference with the most teams already guaranteed a playoff spot. Both the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers have clinched their divisions and a playoff spot. The Packers have done this by going undefeated so far and are now looking toward clinching a first round bye and the conference not to mention having the best record in the NFL. Meanwhile the niners have played above all expectations but were helped in clinching their playoff spot behind a bad division. Both of these teams clinched their berth in the playoffs in week 13 with two more divisions left open and the wild card seeing a number of teams able to clinch. This week one of those teams did finally clinch as the New Orleans Saints clinched at least a wild card spot in the playoffs after beating Tennessee this week. They will hope to win next week and hope that the Atlanta Falcons will lose which will give them the division. Within the top three teams, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Green Bay, there is a battle as the 49ers have begun to slow down and are currently tied for second place with the Saints. If the 49ers lose many more games in the last three weeks they may fail to earn a bye past the first round of playoffs. The final division is possibly the biggest battle in the NFC with Dallas and New York tied for the lead and New York having the tiebreaker after a big Sunday Night win. The battle for the East may come down to the last week as Dallas and New York will play each other in what could be the game for the division. With the divisions all small races the NFC Wild Card still has 8 teams that mathematically could win but more likely will come down to a race between Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit. In the AFC the playoff race is much tighter with only one team clinching a playoff berth so far. That team is the Houston Texans who will play in their first playoff game in the history of the franchise after clinching the AFC South with a thrilling win over Cincinnati. Meanwhile the AFC North is in a tight battle, as in every year, between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers who are both tied for the lead with the Ravens having the tiebreaker. In the AFC East the New England Patriots are two games ahead of the New York Jets. The Jets will need to make a big run at the end of the year with both teams not having a very tough end of the year. If the Patriots can win their next game against the Broncos they will be able to clinch the division leaving the Jets to fight for the wild card. The AFC West is in a very tight battle with the Denver Broncos coming out of nowhere after replacing their QB with Tim Tebow. They have surpassed the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders for the lead in the division. With this division the likelihood of the losing teams to make the wild card is very slim. The path to the playoffs is through the division and if Tebow can continue to get his team to play as well as they have the Broncos may win the division and a playoff berth. For the wild card there are currently 6 teams that have the mathematic ability to make the playoffs. It will most likely come down to the battle between Pittsburgh, New York, Tennessee, and Cincinnati. With the season almost over there are also a number of teams that are out of the hunt and will be looking towards next year but these teams could be the spoilers in another teams push towards the playoffs. With only three weeks left their will be plenty to watch as teams battle to the end to get a spot in the playoffs and march towards the Super Bowl.

One of the favorites for the Super is the Green Bay Packers who are currently undefeated with few teams able to challenge them. As they are undefeated this late in the season the talk turns to if they can go undefeated. Like the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots the talk is shifting to the end of the season. If the Packers win next week against Kansas City they will clinch a first round bye in the playoffs and the conference. This means that they will have two weeks left in the regular season and one week in the postseason before they play in the playoffs. With two weeks left and teams being cautious about their teams there are some major decisions for the Packers to consider in the last two weeks. If they beat Kansas City the debate will be whether or not the Packers should rest their starters in the last two weeks or should they go for the undefeated season and risk injury to a key player. There have been many of these debates over the last few years with Indianapolis resting their starters for the last two weeks in 2007 and won the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots did not do this in 2008 when they came within one game of a perfect season but lost to the New York Giants. The arguments are both very good as some will say they should rest their starters in order to ensure the team be at full health in the playoffs which would be better than having a perfect season. The other side will say go for everything including the perfect season and keep the starters playing to prevent rust forming with three weeks off. Either way the decision will rest on head coach Mike McCarthy and may be influenced by an injury to start receiver Greg Jennings against the Oakland Raiders that will see him out until the playoffs. He will not want to risk losing a big player but will that concern overshadow a pursuit of being the only perfect team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. This will be a big decision for the Packers who will look to repeat as Super Bowl champion and may, depending on the decision, want to be the second undefeated team. Either way they decide to go it is obvious that the road to the Super Bowl for the NFC will run through Green Bay as they will look to complete a very tough task as everyone is gunning for them.

 

Standings:

 

American Football Conference

Division Leaders:

1. z-Houston Texans (.769) [South]

2. Baltimore Ravens (.769) [North]

3. New England Patriots (.769) [East]

4. Denver Broncos (.615) [West]

 

Wild Card:

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (.769)

6. New York Jets (.615)

 

In the Hunt:

7. Tennessee Titans (.538)

8. Cincinnati Bengals (.538)

9. Oakland Raiders (.538)

10. San Diego Chargers (.462)

11. Buffalo Bills (.385)

12. Kansas City Chiefs (.385)

 

Out of the Running:

13. Miami Dolphins (.308)

14. Cleveland Browns (.308)

15. Jacksonville Jaguars (.308)

16. Indianapolis Colts (.000)

 

National Football Conference

Division Leaders:

1. z-Green Bay Packers (1.000) [North]

2. z-San Francisco 49ers (.769) [West]

3. y-New Orleans Saints (.769) [South]

4. New York Giants (.538) [East]

 

Wild Card:

5. Atlanta Falcons (.615)

6. Detroit Lions (.615)

 

In the Hunt:

7. Chicago Bears (.538)

8. Dallas Cowboys (.538)

9. Seattle Seahawks (.462)

10. Arizona Cardinals (.462)

11. Philadelphia Eagles (.385)

12. Carolina Panthers (.308)

13. Washington Redskins (.308)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.308)

 

Out of the Running:

16. Minnesota Vikings (.154)

15. St. Louis Rams (.154)

 

POW Awards:

 

American Football Conference:

Rob Gronkowski, TE (AFC Offensive POW)

6 rec

160 yds

26.7 avg

2 TD

 

Terrell Suggs, LB (AFC Defensive POW)

5 tkl

3.0 sck

0 PDef

3 FF

 

Matt Prater, K (AFC Special Teams POW)

2/3 FG

59 lng

1/1 XP

7 pts

 

National Football Conference:

Matt Ryan, QB (NFC Offensive POW)

57.9% cmp

320 yds

4 TD

0 INT

120.5 rtg

 

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE (NFC Defensive POW)

8 tkl

2.0 sck

1 Sfty

1 FF

 

Doug Baldwin, KR (NFC Special Teams POW)

1 ret

37 yds

0 TD

1 BlckP

 

Key Scores:

Houston Texans 20 – 19 Cincinnati Bengals

– The Texans clinched their first ever playoff appearance behind the arm of third string turned starting QB T.J. Yates who threw a last second TD for the win

 

Denver Broncos 13 – 10 Chicago Bears (OT)

– The Tim Tebow led Broncos did it again winning the game in OT as the Broncos scored 13 unanswered points in the 4th quarter and overtime with Matt Prater finishing the game off with a field goal

 

New York Giants 37 – 34 Dallas Cowboys

– The Giants put their playoff hopes in their own hands after beating the Cowboys with a blocked field goal in the final seconds of the game

 

Seattle Seahawks 30 – 13 St. Louis Rams

– Seattle was able to beat their division rivals and keep their very slim playoff hopes alive as they will need to win every game to earn a wild card spot

 

Key Week 15 Matchups:

Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (December 17th; 8:20 pm)

– The Cowboys will be featured in the first Saturday game of the season as they look to beat the Bucs and keep the pressure on the division leading New York Giants

 

New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos (December 18th; 4:15 pm)

– The biggest test for Tim Tebow will be this week as he takes on the weak defence of the Patriots but will need to keep up with Tom Brady and the offence if they hope to keep winning and get closer to a playoff spot

 

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers (December 18th; 8:20 pm)

– Baltimore will look to continue their hold on the AFC North as they take on the surging San Diego Chargers who are looking to make yet another late season charge into the playoffs

 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Francisco 49ers (December 19th; 8:30 pm)

– The 49ers seem to be stumbling into the playoffs and facing the Steelers will not help them clinch a first round bye as the Steelers try to put pressure on the ravens for the division

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