With only three weeks left in the 2013 NFL season, with have three teams already clinching a spot in the playoffs – the Seattle Seahakws, despite their most recent loss, the Denver Broncos, leading the AFC, and the Indianapolis Colts, who have beaten both these teams but are having problems of late, and yet find themselves in the easiest of divisions, helping them be the first to clinch it.
The main difference between the AFC and the NFC are the teams trying to make it to the wild card spots. There’s a good chance we’ll see an 8-8 or even a 7-9 team in the AFC making it into the postseason, while in the NFC it’s a bit more difficult because of Carolina and San Francisco, being wild card teams who will likely finish with better records than some division champions.
The San Francisco 49ers beating the Seahawks didn’t really change anything. They just distanced themselves from the Arizona Cardinals, improved their chances of securing a playoff spot as soon as possible and denied the Seahakws a chance to clinch the division. Still, at 11-2, it’s hard seeing Seattle mess up this one.
The Saints took a huge step towards securing home field for at least one game: they still have to play in Carolina, but visits to St. Louis and playing against Tampa aren’t exactly games you fear. The Panthers, besides their home game against the Saints, have the Jets at home and finishing the season against the Falcons on the road. They might not win the division, but they should feel really good about making the playoffs.
In the NFC North things got very tight. Aaron Rodgers still isn’t back, but the Green Bay Packers finally won, pulling up to 6-6-1. They’re still third, with Matt Flynn getting better, and a game against the awful Cowboys defense to look forward to. That and games against Pittsburgh and a season ending game against the Bears. Chicago are 7-6 and Cleveland and Philadelphia (on the road) before playing Green Bay. The Lions hold the division lead for now thanks to their head to head against the Bears, and have home games against the Giants and Ravens before visiting Minnesota.
The Cowboys? They’re in trouble after losing to the Bears, while Philly took a hold of the division lead. Philadelphia have a game in Minnesota, at home against Chicago and end the season against Dallas, who currently have the head to head lead. The Cowboys, undefeated in the division, are at home to the Packers, travel to Washington before what might be a deciding showdown at home against the Eagles.
|1||x – Seattle||11||2||0||.846||3-1-0||8-1-0|
Denver won’t slip up, and neither will the Patriots. The Bengals have to play in Pittsburgh before two home games against the Vikings and the Ravens, but it’s unlikely to see them losing all three games and finding themselves out of the playoffs. The Chiefs aren’t in the playoffs yet, but don’t have to face the Broncos anymore, having Oakland on the road, Indy at home and a season finale against the Chargers, who might still be in the picture by then.
The Ravens? Very rough finish, which is pleasing to hear for Miami. They have to play in Detroit and Cincinnati, with a home game against the Patriots in between. The Dolphins won’t win their division, but they have a slightly better finish – home to the Pats as well, with the Jets as a finale after a road game against the Bills.
The Chargers have a divisional finish: Broncos on the road before two straight games at home which they’ll have to win. Oakland and Kansas City. The Jets will probably have to win at least two to stay alive, playing on the road against Carolina and Miami with a home game against the Browns in between. The Titans have a shot at sweeping their ending, playing Arizona, Jacksonville and the broken Houston, while things will be harder for the Steelers, hosting the Bengals, playing in Green Bay and finishing the season at home vs the Browns.
|1||x – Denver||11||2||0||.846||4-0-0||7-2-0|
|4||z – Indianapolis||8||5||0||.615||4-0-0||6-3-0|