Week 16 cleared the playoff picture for both NFL Conferences, with the all the slots in the AFC confirmed, while the NFC only has two places remaining heading into the final round of fixtures.
We will have a new Super Bowl winner this term as the defending champions the Denver Broncos were eliminated from the post-season by the Kansas City Chiefs in 33-10 hammering at Arrowhead Stadium, giving them a chance to steal the AFC West crown.
Meanwhile, the battle for the NFC North will head for an exciting climax at Ford Field when the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers will battle it out for the fourth seed and a home game in the playoffs.
The Lions were on course for a place in the playoffs when they boasted a 9-4 record after overcoming the Chicago Bears in week 14 of the campaign. Jim Caldwell’s men were even thinking about the possibility of securing a first-round bye by clinching the second seed if they could close out the term with a strong run of form.
However, back-to-back defeats have put the club in a world of trouble, knocking them down to the sixth seed ahead of their final-day clash against the Packers. Detroit know a defeat to their rivals could put an end to their post-season dreams, should the Washington Redskins overcome the New York Giants in their clash at FedEx Field.
Caldwell’s men were on course to wrap up their place in the playoffs in their showdown with the Dallas Cowboys. They rallied twice from behind to take a 21-14 lead, but failed to score another point in the contest, while their defense collapsed in the second half to succumb to a 21-point loss.
Detroit’s offense had been on song to take the lead through the running ability of Zach Zenner, but the coaches opted to reduce his carries in the second half, putting more pressure on Matthew Stafford to deliver the result.
It obviously did not pay dividends for the club and their staff will need to have a week of soul searching to develop a solid gameplan to overthrow the Packers at the top of the division, especially as their rivals are one of the hottest teams in the NFL at the moment.
Although the Packers have been playing outstanding football over the last five weeks of the season their place in the playoffs is still precarious. A defeat against their rivals and a win for the Redskins would allow the NFC East outfit to sneak in ahead of Mike McCarthy’s men. On the other hand a win for Green Bay could see them finish as high as the third seed – an unthinkable prospect when they were blown out by Washington at the end of November.
Aaron Rodgers has returned to his MVP form of the 2014 season and put on another clinic in his side’s hammering of the Minnesota Vikings. Jordy Nelson has also been at the peak of his powers and between him and the quarterback there is enough potency on offense for a deep run in the playoffs. Randall Cobb’s injury problems and Davante Adams’ inconsistency could be a cause of concern against the more fearsome sides in the NFC and potentially their Super Bowl opponent.
After a brief improvement their defense has taken a step back, which will raise concerns against the Lions. Detroit are yet to utilise their weapons on offense and have to lay it all on the line in their clash with McCarthy’s men, which could yield a high-scoring match.Backing the Packers to secure the NFC North title at -200 with Bet365 would be prudent option to take.
For three quarters and four minutes the Raiders were sauntering towards the likelihood of securing the AFC West crown and a first-round bye in the playoffs. However, Indianapolis Colts defensive end Trent Cole turned the course of their season when he pulled Derek Carr to the ground, fracturing the quarterback’s fibula.
It was a clean tackle and there was no intention to hurt the 25-year-old, but it was enough to all but bring his season to an end and leave Oakland without their star man for the playoffs. The Raiders had displayed their potency on offense by putting 33 points on the board against the Colts, but with backup Matt McGloin taking the reins at signal-caller their ability to score will take a huge hit.
Jack Del Rio’s men are only one game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West and as a result of their two defeats to their rivals this season they face the prospect of being surpassed for the division and the number two seed in the conference. The Raiders have to beat the Denver Broncos on the road in their final regular season game to ensure their spot in the two seed or perhaps even the number one, pending the New England Patriots’ result against the Miami Dolphins.
Denver’s defense is extremely stout despite their issues against the Chiefs and could be able to hold down the Raiders to inflict their fourth defeat of the season and allow Kansas City to snatch away the AFC West title at +120 .
Andy Reid’s side will be desperate to capitalise on the Raiders’ misfortune and claim the number two seed in the AFC that will allow them to rest their players for an extra week in January. Seven days removed from a weak offensive performance against the Tennessee Titans, they put in an outstanding effort to carve apart the vaunted Broncos defense, with tight end Travis Kelce leading the charge with a 160-yard display.
Defensively, Eric Berry continued his playmaking antics with an interception of Trevor Siemian, while the rest of the unit was solid to prevent Denver from making any headway after the first quarter. Should they close out with a win over the San Diego Chargers and the Raiders lose their final match of the campaign it would see the Chiefs seal the bye for the first time since the 2003 season.
Due to their talent on defense and efficiency on offensive, along with the propensity of the big play from Tyreek Hill and Kelce, Reid’s men might have the best chance to knock off the New England Patriots to be the AFC’s representative in the Super Bowl. Kansas City have failed to reach the Vince Lombardi trophy game since 1969 and doing so would be a huge achievement for the coaching staff, especially Reid, who has been maligned for his side’s previous performances in the post-season.
Therefore they might not be a bad option to back the Chiefs to win the AFC at +500 with BetOnline.
Green Bay Packers to win the NFC North
Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC Conference
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