Regular Season Heating Up for a Photo Finish as Playoffs Loom

Abrahim Karzai, Staff Writer

If you are an NFL fan, I have one question for you: Are you not entertained?

This season has been something. With just two weeks to go until the postseason, there is a solid amount lot of uncertainty as the new year looms.

Over in the NFC, the race for the #1 seed is slowly beginning to reach the finish line. The Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints are the two teams battling it out to decide where the road to the Super Bowl will run through. With the Saints currently holding a better record at 12-2, and Sean Payton’s guys owning the tiebreaker thanks to a 45-35 victory over LA in a Week 9 shootout, the Saints have the inside lane to the number one seed.  Both teams have already clinched their division titles with the Saints taking care of business on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14, while the Rams got it done a week earlier against the Lions.

While home-field advantage is still up for grabs, there are also a pack of teams still trying to make it to the dance. The Seattle Seahawks, a team many presumed were on the decline with the Legion of Boom long gone, are suddenly in the driver’s seat for the 5th seed in the NFC. But the ‘Hawks are going to have win the games they’re suppose to, something they were not able to do last week against the now 4-10 San Francisco 49ers. A matchup against the Cardinals in Week 17 should have Seattle playing in January. The big test will be this week – Week 16 –  when they have the AFC’s current #1 seed, the Kansas City Chiefs, coming to town on a Sunday Nighter. It would absolutely solidify the Seahawks as legitimate contenders if they can get the best of one of the league’s powerhouses.

Speaking of the Chiefs, the road to the Super Bowl may have to run through always jam-packed Arrowhead Stadium. After clinching a playoff spot in clutch fashion against the Baltimore Ravens, K.C has further distanced themselves from the New England Patriots. Granted, the Pats did not help their case for the top seed or even a playoff bye in losing in shocking fashion to the Miami Dolphins in Week 14 and dropping a tight one to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15. Speaking of the loss to the Dolphins, the decisive moment in this one came on the game’s final play which saw multiple laterals happen before finally ending up in the hands of running back Kenyan Drake, who then eluded multiple defenders, including tight end Rob Gronkowski who was on the field to prevent a Hail Mary, for a walk-off game winner at the gun. New England is beginning to sink further and further and their loss to the Steelers, only the third loss to Pittsburgh in the Brady/Belichick era, could mean an early exit for the Pats.  

So, while the #1 seed may be all but cemented, four teams will fight it out for that crucial final wild card spot. The Ravens, Colts, and Titans are all sitting at 8-6. If the postseason kicked off today, the Ravens would get in via tiebreakers, but Baltimore faces a tough matchup in Week 16 against the Los Angeles Chargers, who are still in the running for the AFC West title, though a more likely scenario has them holding on to the #5 seed. The Titans are playing host to their AFC South rival, the Colts, in a game that might end up deciding who secures that final spot.  

Two weeks to go in the regular season and then all but twelve will be watching at home. It’s crunch time. ‘Tis the season.