NFL Playoff Contenders: How Did They Get Here?

12/27/12 in NFL   |   Wards_Page   |   248 respect

Blog Photo - NFL Playoff Contenders: How Did They Get Here?

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in the NFL Playoff picture
And you may ask yourself: Well... How did I get here?

As we enter the final week of the NFL regular season some teams have already qualified for the playoffs while others are still hoping to get in, even in the face of dwindling mathematical possibilities. How did everyone get where they are? Here's a quick rundown.

AFC

Houston Texans. First things first, the Texans have had a solid year. You don't get 12 (possibly 13) wins without being a very good team. That being said, they got absolutely skunked in their three losses to Green Bay, New England, and last week at home to Minnesota, when they could have locked up home field throughout the playoffs. Sunday's game at Indy with #1 seed still on the line will be very telling.

Denver Broncos. Let's not beat around the bush, the Broncos are where they are for two reasons: Eli Manning and they play in the absolute worst division in football. They're also only 2-3 against playoff-bound teams. That being said, they have a solid defense and will definitely be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs, especially at home.

New England Patriots. Their high-octane, up-tempo offense aside, this year's Patriots don't seem all that different than last year's Patriots or the year before that. They have the ability to absolutely demolish some opponents, but when they don't they leave themselves open to excruciating defeats. Their four losses this year have been for a total of 11 points, 7 of which came in that crazy game with San Francisco. The Super Bowl is always within their grasp, but beware that one "nip and tuck" game.

Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have been intermittently mediocre on offense and defense all season long, yet here they find themselves in the playoffs and looking at possibly an 11-win season. They ignored Ray Rice, fired their offensive coordinator, lost old-but-still-scary Ray Lewis, and are a team that no one is talking about. Who cares that their two signature wins over Cincy and New England came in the first three weeks of the season, unexplainable teams like this should scare you s**tless.

Indianapolis Colts. Two big reasons: Andrew Luck and a team that rallied behind coach Chuck Pagano. The third reason should have been a weak schedule but the Colts played and beat some pretty good teams. They remain the feelgood story of the season.
 
Cincinnati Bengals. They punched their playoff ticket and #6 seed with a win at Pittsburgh last week. No apologies necessary. In fact, because of the Bengals the AFC is no muss, no fuss with any other stragglers hoping to get into the playoffs.
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