Expectations for NFL Playoff Push

Albert Raminfard

With the season coming to a place where everything about the postseason begins to be predicted and determined, I’d like to use this end-of-semester article to go over some teams to watch out for in the upcoming weeks. I will discuss these teams who could make a surprising push for the postseason before it’s all over and some bests and worsts to keep in mind for the postseason and beyond.

My favorite team that I’ve placed in this category is the Denver Broncos. Even though I would be the first person to tell you that he was unimpressed with Tebow’s play so far as a starter, the fact remains that he is 5-1 for the season. What I have gathered is that the team as a whole is playing with more hope and inspiration, thus pushing them to be better, especially in the clutch. Tebow is a good leader for this team (especially when they need one), not a good quarterback. Still, the Broncos aren’t in the toughest division, and their schedule looks relatively promising. If they keep up the run they have been having they could contend with the Oakland Raiders for the top of the division. They would then be heading into the postseason with momentum and believing in themselves as underdogs, which could make them the Seahawks of this year. Keep an eye of them if you haven’t already been captivated by Tebow mania.

A team that has gained more respect with their performances against their division rivals has been the Cincinatti Bengals. With the schedule the New York Jets have ahead of them, I would be surprised to see the AFC North take over the AFC postseason. Andy Dalton has been very impressive to me, especially coupled with fellow rookie AJ Green, and in my opinion should be at least considered for rookie of the year. They have a young and exciting team that is relatively consistent. I can see them

easily getting the sixth seed.

Essentially, everything that the Bengals have going for them does not describe the Jets. Although I do believe that the Jets are most likely a better and more complete team than the Bengals head-to-head, their schedule is also more difficult down the stretch. It seems as though the game against the Giants will be a very pivotal one for almost everyone in New York (including Bills fans, actually) as both of those teams will need that win in the fight to get into the postseason.

When we get to the NFC, things become a bit more dicey. Six different teams are in a position in which they would need to continue to struggle to secure their spot in the postseason. The Atlanta Falcons are the best overall team in this spot and I see a wild-card spot in their future. The Chicago Bears will have a tough time keeping their spot with Jay Cutler out for the year, even though their team has been impressive as a whole. The Dallas Cowboys and Giants will most likely be fighting for the top of the division, especially with their playing each other twice late in the season. It is likely that one of teams will knock the other out not only from contention for the division, but for the wild card as well. Honestly, I don’t think either of these teams are playing up to par though, with the Giants getting spanked by the New Orleans Saints this week and the Cowboys barely squeaking out a win against the 3-7 Miami Dolphins.

Beyond all of these contenders, there are many special occurances that could become a reality by the end of this season. The quarterback play of the elite Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers is historically ridiculous. All three of them have QB ratings over 100 and are on pace to break 5,000 yards for the season. Let’s note that throwing for 5,000 yards in a season has only been done by two quarterbacks previously – Dan Marino and Drew Brees earlier in his career. Although both Brady and Brees are on pace to break Marino’s single season yards record, they are completely overshadowed by Rodgers’s preposterous play and the pursuit of his team for perfection. Apologies to Mr. Brady.

With that said, for some reason people are neglecting the possibility of another 16-0 season. Aaron Rodgers is having, by far, the most incredible season for a quarterback ever, both statistically and in terms of winning. He is on pace to break or tie the records for best QB rating, most touchdowns in a season, most passing yards in a season and best completion percentage at the end of a season. He’s managed to do all of this while only throwing four interceptions, three of which came from tips. Mix that with a team that has talented wide receivers and a solid defense that forces mistakes, and you have a more complete team than the last perfect team we saw. This means we may be looking at our first ever “perfect” team at 19-0. Beyond that, Rodgers could make a case for the best of all time.

Talking about great quarterback play, we can also look on to the future of the NFL with one of the best QB prospects in Andrew Luck out of Stanford. Who does it look like he’s going to go to? Well that’s easy – the Indianapolis Colts. This season it seems as though the Colts are the worst team, possibly ever, without Peyton Manning. They will most likely go 0-16 unless they get lucky. They have a lot of hope for the future, though, and why shouldn’t they? They’ll get Luck and have him learn from one of the best ever in Peyton Manning. Oh yeah, Manning will be back, too. Keep in mind also that being in last place will give them an easy schedule, similar to how the Bengals got such an easy schedule this year. So the Colts will bounce back again in the coming years to be a force again along with the Patriots, Steelers and Ravens in the AFC and among the elite around the league as a whole.

Contact Albert Raminfard at [email protected]