sorting out the wild card races
Cincinnati – of the five teams locked at 7-5 in the AFC right now they are probably playing the best football right now. We all know the offense can score points but the key is the defense. The defense has allowed just seven points in two weeks and the main reason for this is they have been stopping the run as of late. Their remaining schedule features games in Denver and Indianapolis. I feel they can steal one of those two games and will win the home games against Oakland and Pittsburgh to finish 10-6 and make the playoffs.
Jacksonville – This is one of the more inconsistent teams in the league. The talent is there but for some reason the Jags can’t play well on the road. The key to the Jags making the playoffs is David Garrard. He plays well and they win but if not they lose. The schedule does not favor their road woes with games in Tennessee and Kansas City. They will finish 9-7 at best and in the tough AFC will miss the playoffs.
Kansas City – Have one of the more balanced and best offenses in the league. But the defense is shaky and the main reason is bad tackling. When a defense can’t tackle they can’t stop offenses and this is the key to them making the playoffs. With games against Baltimore and in San Diego I think they finish 3-1 and make the playoffs at 10-6.
Denver – With one of the best defenses in the league they can beat anyone on any day. But the offense is struggling and is the reason they have lost back to back games. They finally made the switch to Jay Cutler but I think it too late. He is going to struggle at first as he did on Sunday night and will be unpredictable the rest of the season. They do have one of the more favorable schedules remaining with games against San Francisco and in Arizona but I think they finish .500 to go 9-7 and miss the playoffs.
New York Jets – They have been playing well as of late and have a soft schedule. Still the defense has to learn to stop the run which is key to winning late in the season. I don’t think they can with games against Willis McGahee and Chester Taylor. I think they lose in Miami, Minnesota and maybe even against Buffalo. With a 9-7 record they would miss the playoffs.
New York Giants – With one of the more talented teams in the league I can’t believe they have to make the wild card to make the playoffs. But this team has been torn apart by injuries and with the worst team chemistry in the NFL lately they have lost four straight. The key is the running game which they have gotten away from in a few of their losses. They will be able to run when they try to and will steal a game against New Orleans in two weeks to finish at least 8-8 maybe even 9-7 and in the NFC that will be good enough to make the wild card.
Atlanta – With Vick at QB they can win any game but he is too inconsistent and you never know which Vick will show up. The WRs have been dropping too many balls and the defense is not too good. The key to a playoff run will be that defense which hurts most in the secondary. With three games remaining against playoff contenders and another against a division rival I think they would be lucky to win another game. They will finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs.
Philadelphia – Garcia is now the QB of the Eagles and he is a previous pro bowler but don’t think for a minute that he can lead them to the playoffs single handedly. That is what he would have to do because teams will focus on stopping Brain Westbrook and force him to win. Garcia is the key to a playoff run for the Eagles. I simply can’t see an Eagle team without McNabb making the playoffs. They have three road games remaining to finish 8-8 at best but will miss the playoffs because of the tie breaker held by the Giants over them.
Carolina – The Panthers have the best team in the NFC wild card hunt. They have one of the better defenses in the league and a very talented offense. They don’t know how to win close games though with all 6 loses being in close games. The key is Jake Delhomme, he hasn’t played well lately but does have the weapons to go out and put up points. The schedule is favorable and I think they will finish hot at 3-1 to finish 9-7 and make the wild card.