2016 NFL Playoff Preview

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The NFL is set to begin a massive celebration of their history and their future in Santa Clara at Super Bowl 50.

The game is set to be the biggest yet as it marks fifty years since the two leagues were merged and the single biggest sporting day in North America took form.

The focus is clearly on the big game but before that two teams will need to get there and if the season is any indication it will be far from easy to get to that game.

The playoffs are set to be one of the most unpredictable of the year after the season was turned on its head throughout the year.

It all started with more dominant teams than ever before as a total of six teams were undefeated after five weeks.

Then they began to fall one after the other until only two were left nearing the end of the season.

What was more interesting about them though is that they took their first loss and struggled to find their way back to the winning path.

Most undefeated teams that fell limped into the playoffs with injuries or just simply poor play making them look like they may not even belong in the playoffs.

In season that began with concern for any team trying to find their way to Santa Clara it is more about who will survive.

The season began with so many teams looking like they were going to be hard to beat and although not all could possibly stay undefeated they all looked strong.

The playoffs were setting up to be matches of great teams against great teams all trying not to get to the same place.football-sidebar

Now the playoffs are set to begin and instead of a gauntlet of great teams it will be a group of teams struggling as they head into the playoffs and looking to get going.

There are few teams that could be considered true favourites while the rest have massive questions surrounding them.

Coming into the playoffs some look like they may not even belong in the same company as the others but they will need to figure things out.

Despite the fact that every team might not be playing at their best right now the playoffs could be an interesting few weeks where bad teams figure things out and the best teams fall short.

It is the playoffs and in the playoffs anything can happen as many of the playoff teams will try to hit the reset button when the playoffs begin.

Much like when a new regular season begins there is no history at the beginning of the playoffs as it is a new season.

The records are thrown out and all that matters is what each team can do in the game ahead of them.

If they spent the latter half of the season trying to find a way to in a game it won’t matter if they can win every game on their way to the Super Bowl.

If they spent the entire season being the team to beat in the league it won’t matter if they can’t take a win in the playoffs.

All goes away this time of year with the introduction of a new season that is tougher than anything they have faced before.

Teams will look to get over their woes or continue their strong play into a new month where the teams that went through it all to earn a spot await.

Who will make it into the Super Bowl? Only time will tell as twelve teams all begin their fight to be champions and to represent the NFL as the 50th Super Bowl Champion.

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The AFC has long been ruled by the few good teams that reside in the conference with the rest just trying to find their way to the playoffs as their big accomplishment. It is not that one team has always been the best team but rather that the favourites every year seem to stay the same. This year was not a lot different as once again the Broncos and Patriots were once again fighting for the top post throughout the year. Both began the season with long undefeated streaks but have had issues recently as they tried to clinch their spots in the playoffs. The Broncos ended theirs in a Week 9 while the Patriots stayed unbeaten until Week 12. The Bengals were right along with both of these teams until Week 10 when they dropped their first game. All three of these teams would have come into the playoffs as the favourites if they won good games the rest of the way. Instead none of these teams finished well as the Broncos ended the year with a QB controversy that ended with Peyton Manning back in the starting role with plenty questioning is he still has the ability to win important games. The Patriots ended their season with two straight losses to the Jets and the Dolphins thanks to injuries that has given them plenty of doubt. The Bengals took their first loss and looked fine until Andy Dalton went down leaving them without their leader who had been having the best season of his career. The top teams were all joined by teams that were far from great all season but seemed to figure things out at the right time. The Houston Texans started their season looking like they were headed to another losing season. Then midway through the year Brian Hoyer seemed to figure out the offence after being brought in and they began to roll. After a collapse from the Indianapolis Colts the Texans took over and won the division. The Kansas City Chiefs were more of a last minute add only due to the other team in their division. They struggled on offence at times but if the Broncos weren’t as good as they had been all year they were likely the division champions. The Pittsburgh Steelers fought their way to the playoffs after an injury early in the year to Ben Roethlisberger seemed to end their season quickly. They found their form late in the year with “Big Ben” back in the lineup though and found their way to the wild card. The AFC was once a conference that seemed to have everything figured out with three teams looking like not many were going to beat them. As the playoffs start it is the exact opposite as the three teams that everyone was watching are the biggest mysteries while the teams that just made it in could be the favourites to win it all.

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The Broncos’ defence is one of the best but the biggest question will be if Peyton Manning still has what it takes to win.  They are clearly an organization that knows how to win with less but injuries to the line are making lie tough for Tom Brady
cincinnati_bengals houston_texans
With Andy Dalton the Bengals have yet to win a playoff game but with Dalton injured, can AJ McCarron be the difference? They have a good defence and their offence is playing well but how long will that play hold up against great defences?
kansas_city_chiefs pittsburgh_steelers
They are the hottest team right now winning 10 straight but the true test will be if Alex Smith is truly a Super Bowl QB. The Steelers are no longer the defensive powerhouse which could be their downfall but their offence is picking up the slack.

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The season in the NFC had plenty of similarities to the AFC with plenty of teams that looked great to start but all of a sudden began to collapse. Unlike the AFC though many of the teams that were favourites at the beginning of the year figured things out before it was time for the playoffs. Now they sit at the top of their conference looking like clear favourites to win it all when the focus turns to Santa Clara. After all, sitting at the top of the conference are two teams that everyone is waiting to see play each other. There is the Carolina Panthers who took their winning streak the longest only losing their first game in Week 16. Led by the likely MVP, Cam Newton, they could be the most balanced team in the playoffs. Right behind them is the Arizona Cardinals who may have only taken an undefeated streak to three weeks but have proven themselves time and time again. They are finally meeting the potential that so many saw before Carson Palmer was hurt and if it wasn’t for the Panther they would be the most balanced team in the league. For man yet is just a procession until these two teams face-off and it could be a great match-up of two of the best teams in the league. Then again it is the playoffs and unexpected things seem to always happen and any of the other teams could catch the Panthers or the Cards on a bad day. The Vikings have fought their way into the playoffs and don’t do any one thing really well compared to many playoff teams. They do have Adrian Peterson though who has had a resurgent season and he is no longer the only weapon they have on an offence that might give some a problem. Washington could be a strange team as they won the worst division and have the worst record of any playoff team. Then again Kirk Cousins has found ways to win all season as he plays with a massive chip on his shoulder and that is always dangerous for opposing teams. The Green Bay Packers are a team that really only got in because of a 6-game win streak at the start of the season as their play after that has been nowhere near championship caliber. The talent is there though with Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Julius Peppers, and Clay Matthews and it might take a playoff game to spark what has been one of the best teams over the past few years. The Seahawks are the two-time defending champions but that attitude that brought them to two straight Super Bowls seems to be gone. They are the hottest team in the NFC right now though and they know how to win so they can’t be overlooked. The NFC might have two clear favourites but there is no doubt that they won’t walk into the Super Bowl this year.

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With MVP Cam Newton leading the way this is a tough team but their defence has fallen asleep at times during the season.

The Cards are a well-balanced team but most will wonder if Carson Palmer is really ready to lead them to the Super Bowl.

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They have been fighting all year but they don’t do one thing consistently well, even their rush game has been shut down before.

They have the attitude of a champion fighting for recognition but the talent might not be there for them to make a serious run.

green_bay_packers seattle_seahawks

The talent is off the charts for a wild card team but since Week 8 they haven’t been able to put it all together consistently.

That Seahawks attitude is gone and their home advantage along with it but they are the hottest team in the NFC right now.

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Super Bowl 50:
The Broncos will make it back to the Super Bowl, as long as they make the right decision under centre, and they bring the experience. What they don’t bring is an offence that can match the power of what the Cardinals have shown. It is sure to be a struggle for both sides with two great defences that will face-off to try to prove who the better defence is in the league. In the end the inconsistency on offence from the Broncos doesn’t provide a lot of confidence that they will break though more than the Cardinals who will take home the win and their franchise’s first ever Super Bowl.

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