#7…Green Bay Packers (7-6).
The Packers were 4-1 before Aaron Rodgers injured his collarbone. Since that time, they have gone 3-5. All that may change on Sunday if Rodgers is cleared to play. The Packers were playing as well as any team in the NFL before the 6-time pro-bowl quarterback was sidelined. “IF” and that is a big “IF” the Packers “run the table” and win their next three games, they will make the playoffs. They play all NFC team. @Carolina, home against Minnesota and they end the season on the road in Detroit.
#6…New Orleans Saints (9-4).
This is a team that has evolved as the season has progressed. They are no longer relying on Drew Brees to win every game. The “two headed” monster at running back has been the strength of this team. Mark Ingram has over 1200 yards from scrimmage and rookie Alvin Kamara became one of only 4 rookie, running backs, in the history of the NFL, to have over 600 yards rushing and receiving. The one thing about rushing the football is that it travels well on the road. Sean Peyton has done a great job of re-inventing his team. Brees has passed for over 3,500 yards and has 19 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
#5…Minnesota Vikings (10-3).
Other than the Patriots and Steelers the Vikings have been the most consistent team all year long. 2 of their 3 losses have been by a total of 14 points ( 14-7 to the Lions and 31-24 to the Panthers). Their defense is one of the best in the league and quarterback Case Keenum should win comeback player of the year. I just don’t see them scoring a ton of points come playoff time and that may be their downfall.
#4…Carolina Panthers (9-4).
The Carolina Panthers had an impressive win on Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings 31-24. The Panthers are ranked 5th overall defensively, 8th against the pass and 3rd against the run. As good as their defense is, the key to this team is quarterback Cam Newton. When the former Auburn Tigers Heisman Trophy winner plays well this team usually wins. When Newton is making plays with his feet as well as his arm, he is one of the best in the NFL.
#3…The Philadelphia Eagles (10-3)
The Eagles defeated a very good Rams team on the road 45-34. The good news is, Philadlephia scored 45 points on the road against a very good defense. The bad news is, MVP candidate, quarterback, Carson Wentz is out for the season. Wentz was in the top 3 in almost every offensive category. To say he will be missed is the understatement of the year. Eagles Super Bowl dreams are over.
#2…The New England Patriots (10-3).
New England lost Monday night to the Miami Dolphins 27-20. The loss snapped an 8 game winning streak. The Patriots played terrible on the road, and still only lost be a touchdown. Despite the loss they should win their 15th division title in 17 years.
#1…The Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2).
The Steelers clinched the AFC North division by defeated the Baltimore Ravens 39-38. After being outscored 17-0 in the 3rd quarter, Pittsburgh came back and outscored the Ravens 19-7 in the 4th quarter. The Steelers can now win games in a 7-6 defensive battle or score over 30 points. They are the most dangerous team in the NFL right now, on both sides of the ball. The only bad news for the Steelers… they play New England coming off a loss… On Sunday.
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