Necessary Roughness, Week 11: Which Teams are Playoff Bound?
￼It’s Week 11 in the NFL season and the blurry playoff picture is starting to come into focus. Teams are desperately trying to establish the momentum needed to push themselves into the postseason with the ultimate goal of sharing the stage with Katy Perry at SuperBowl XLIX.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t get to watch a lot of football this weekend. My wife and I spent the majority of the day driving to Long Island, NY so we could hang with a good friend of mine who also happens to be a fantastic tattoo artist. Shout out to my man Matt Skinny and Kings Avenue Tattoo in Massapequa, NY for being gracious hosts and for tattooing a baller ass owl on my wife’s knee! Anyway, we showed up to LI just in time to watch the Panthers lose yet another game, further sinking me into a debilitating and perhaps incurable depression. It’s safe to say the Panthers are completely irrelevant this year along with the rest of the NFC South. I find it hilarious and slightly perturbing that a team from that division is going to host a playoff game, potentially with a losing record.
Aside from the laughably bad NFC South and the complete toss-up of the AFC North, the cream is beginning to rise to the top as the great teams separate themselves from the good ones. Since my wife is trying to drag me into NYC this morning, presumably just to flare up my anxiety and bombard my olfactory system with the smell of road construction and pigeon shit, I really don’t have much time to write this week. So I’ll just quickly mention who I think are the teams primed to make a run to Glendale, AZ in 2016.
Green Bay Packers: It seems like a distant memory that the Packers started the season 1-2 and Aaron Rodgers was urging Packers Nation to just “relax.” Since then they’ve gone 6-1. The defense has been stellar, and offensively they have scored over 50 points in each of the last two games. GB is easily at the top of my list right now of the elite teams in the NFC. They are talented, healthy, and extremely relaxed heading into the home stretch of the season.
Arizona Cardinals: Forget the injury to Carson Palmer; sometimes there are teams that just know how to win, and the Cardinals are one of those teams. They are incredibly well-coached and they have the ability to adapt to whatever type of game they need to play in order to win. These guys are the best story in the NFL this year and I’m buying them as a legit contender. Don’t look now, but the Arizona Cardinals might by hosting, and playing in the Super Bowl.
Philly and Dallas aren’t making my list; both teams are too flawed to make a Super Bowl push. They may both end up in the playoffs, but I just don’t think Philly defends consistently enough and Dallas’ margin for error is pretty small. Both teams ultimately rely too heavily on scoring. But I am looking forward to them squaring off against one another on November 27 and again on December 14.
And where are the Detroit Lions? Well, I just don’t trust them. They have won some really close games this year that they probably should have lost. I know Megatron
￼is back in action, but I just don’t feel like this team has the ability to dominate a game. Ultimately they rely on their defense — which is admittedly very good — but as a team the Lions aren’t explosive enough offensively to carry themselves through the playoffs.
New England Patriots: Since the Monday night debacle against the Chiefs, the Patriots have been ridiculously good. Offensively they are damn near unstoppable, scoring seemingly at will. And defensively they consistently only give up about 20 points a game. They were my preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl and I’m feeling pretty good about that pick right now.
Denver Broncos: Bad loss to the Rams this weekend, but I’m still a believer in this team. They have the ability to dominate games on both sides of the ball, and with a little bit of good luck, i.e. somehow avoiding a game with the Patriots in the playoffs, the Broncos could find themselves in the big game for the second year in a row.
Kansas City Chiefs: The way in which this team wins games is not always pretty, but here they are at 7-3. In the next four weeks they face the Raiders twice, the Broncos and the Cardinals. I think they’ve got to win three of those four games, and one of those wins needs to be against the Broncos. But I like this team.
The Steelers made it interesting last night, but ultimately came away with a win against Tennessee. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really care about that game a whole hell of a lot. But it ended up being a pretty good one. Pittsburgh remains in the conversation in the extremely volatile AFC North.