By INSC Magazine Staff
The 2017/18 NFL playoff picture looks a bit clearer after the latest batch of games over the weekend as several teams pressed their claim while others fell out of contention.
Jacksonville Jaguars secured a playoff berth and are now one of the four Division Leaders in the AFC along with Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, and Kansas City. On the NFC side, Philadelphia improved to 12-2 and secured a first-round bye, while Minnesota, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans now lead their respective divisions.
There are still numerous teams attempting to secure a Wild Card ahead of January 6-7, so the final two games promise to deliver excitement and action by the bucket load over the festive period.
The New England Patriots are currently the favorites to win Super Bowl LII ahead of Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers, but that could all change during the next few weeks. Punters betting on sports can bet on all of the latest games over Christmas and into the New Year.
Baltimore Ravens won 27-10 over the weekend to continue their red-hot form, and they appear to be bringing their A game just at the right time. While their record of 8-6 for the season matches both Tennessee and Buffalo, Baltimore has two matches on home soil during the final two weeks against Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals, who they are expected to beat comfortably. Ending the season with two morale boosting wins will secure a playoff spot. Joe Flacco is currently in great form with five touchdowns in his last three games, while the defense is also solid.
Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans
Tennessee are currently in the playoffs courtesy of a tiebreak over the Ravens and the Buffalo Bills, but they have tough fixtures against the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars coming up, so they could well tumble down the final stretch. Buffalo cruised to a comfortable 24-16 win over Miami Dolphins at the weekend to improve their record to 8-6 and stay ahead of the Ravens for the final wild-card sport in the AFC. However, they also have two games on the road left at New England and Miami. Ravens, therefore, appear to have an edge, with the final other spot a wash between the Bills and Titans.
The Panthers secured a good win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, and they are now 10-6 for the season and favorites to secure the first wild card in the NFC division. Carolina faces the Buccaneers and the Falcons on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, armed with the knowledge that one win should be enough to secure a playoff spot. They could still miss out entirely, but that would require a freak run of results in other games.
Atlanta secured a much-needed win at Tampa Bay on Monday, and their record of 9-5 makes them the clear favorite to secure the second wild card for now, though several teams are breathing down their necks ahead of the final run in. Atlanta may have bigger aspirations though as victories over the in-form Panthers and the Saints would be enough for them to win the division. One more win will take them to the playoffs, while even two defeats could be enough if Seattle, Dallas or Detroit don’t have a strong finish. The best possible outcome for Atlanta is qualifying for the NFC playoffs as the third seed, which would ensure a home wild-card game.
Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks
Detroit Lions have a record of 8-6, but they face elimination from playoff contention with just one more defeat ahead of clashes with the Bengals and the Packers. However, two wins from those games and two defeats for Atlanta would secure back to back playoff appearances for the Lions, ahead of either Seattle or Dallas. The Seahawks can still secure the top spot in NFC West with two successive wins and two losses for Los Angeles Rams, but that is unlikely following a crushing 42-7 loss to the Rams at the weekend.
That leaves the Dallas Cowboys, who are very much on the outside looking in at the moment and do not have the chance to win the division even if every result goes their way during the final two weeks of the regular season. They can make the playoffs if they improve to 10-6 and the Falcons lose twice, and the Lions suffer a defeat. That is unlikely though, so Carolina and Atlanta are the hot tips to make the NFC Wild Card.