Around the Hill: Which Current Non-Playoff Team will make the Playoffs?

By Theo Asher

Maroon News Staff

The Bengals have quietly been one of the NFL’s best offenses this season. Through week seven, they’ve tallied the most offensive yards in the AFC and the second most in the NFL. We know how consistent and explosive WR AJ Green is, but RB Jeremy Hill’s performance over the past few years has been unpredictable. However, this season, Hill has shown that he can run the ball with more thrift. The 3rd year RB out of LSU is third in the NFL in yards per carry with 5.2, and he put on an elite performance in week seven vs. Cleveland with 168 yards and 1 touchdown on a mere nine carries. Hill should be able to carry this momentum forward into a schedule of teams with feeble run defenses. QB Andy Dalton is coming into his own, showing that last year was no fluke. He has the 4th most passing yards in the NFL and has regained the confidence he played with for most of last season. The Bengals have a favorable schedule going forward as they have already passed their most difficult stretch of their season. They also play in the mediocre AFC North, home to a below average team in the Baltimore Ravens and quite possibly the worst team in any professional sport, the Cleveland Browns. With such a balanced offense and manageable schedule, Cincinnati could win most of their remaining games this season and crash the AFC playoff party for the 6th straight season.

By Robert Nightingale

Maroon-News Staff

Glancing at a paper version of the Arizona Cardinals roster, they would appear to be an absolute lock to make the playoffs this season.  They have former Heisman winner and #1 overall pick Carson Palmer, who has been reborn in Phoenix, having his best season of his twelve-year career in 2015. The Cardinal’s receiving core is strong, led by the ageless Larry Fitzgerald, who must have discovered the fountain of youth. RB David Johnson is a budding star and has a legitimate claim as the best running back in the NFC, if not the NFL.  On the defensive side, newly acquired Chandler Jones is a force on the line, while Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu anchor a quality secondary.  At the helm, Bruce Arians, who stares at his play sheet as intently as a Chili’s menu, is an overlooked but fantastic coach with an underrated football mind.  The gaping hole in the Cardinal’s roster is kicker Chandler Catanzaro whose atrocious kicking has cost the team at least two wins already this year and the lead in the NFC West.  He missed a game-winning kick against the Patriots in the final minute and absolutely shanked an overtime field goal attempt against the Seahawks.  Catanzaro is so mentally rattled right now that he probably could not hit a pressure field goal if the posts were as wide as the end zone.  The Cardinals clearly have the talent and coaching to make the playoffs, which is why I believe they will. However, Coach Arians must pray their playoff push is not dependent on a last minute field goal in their final regular season game.

By Henry Marshall

National Sports Editor 

The Kansas City Chiefs are the team to keep an eye on for squeezing into the playoffs in the Wild Card round in January. The Chiefs are currently 4-2, but their upcoming schedule has the potential to make them a playoff threat this year. After coming off a win against the Saints, Kansas City is looking at four very winnable games against the Colts, Jaguars, Panthers and Buccaneers. While the Colts are coming off a big time, final seconds win against the Tennessee Titans, the most impressive part about the team has been Adam Vinatieri and his consistency between the posts. Andrew Luck has been struggling, and a Kansas City win in Indianapolis is doable. The 2-4 Jaguars have struggled so far, as well as the Carolina Panthers, who are 1-5 and unrecognizable compared to last year’s Super Bowl caliber team. Interestingly enough, their last two losses have come against the Falcons and Buccaneers, who Kansas City will face down the line. Aside from the potential to take the next three games, the Chief’s offense has been excellent. Rookie Tyreek Hill has begun to produce, scoring a huge 38-yard touchdown against the Saints, and is tied with Spencer Ware for the most touchdowns on the team with three. In his third NFL season, Spencer Ware has been excellent with 492 yards. Since tearing his ACL last October, Jamal Charles has seen limited playing time, but will be a huge asset to the Chiefs later in the season. With a proficient offense and cushy schedule, expect the Chiefs to make their way into the playoffs.