Here we are sports fans. Three weeks left in the regular season. This is about the time of year that we start to see the various playoff scenarios. The contenders play in meaningful “must win” games, while the pretenders look to play spoiler. Each year, the NFL has 12 postseason invitations. The eight division champs all make the playoffs, along with four wild card teams (two from each conference). So far, three teams have already locked up their division – Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, and New England Patriots. The Houston Texans have clinched a playoff berth, but are still battling the Indianapolis Colts for the division crown. With eight spots still up for grabs, there are still a significant number of teams battling down the stretch. Here’s my take on teams that look likely to punch their ticket for the playoffs:
Green Bay Packers – at 9-4, they are in control of the NFC North. They have a huge rivalry game this weekend in Chicago, and a win would clinch the division title.
San Francisco 49ers – With one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL, the 49ers are on the verge of clinching either the division or a wild card berth. They need to play hard though, because the Seattle Seahawks are right on their heels with rookie Russell Wilson leading the charge. Even if Seattle doesn’t catch the 49ers, I still look for them to wrap up a wild card berth and advance to the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens – Leading the AFC North, but reeling from a 2 game losing streak, it’s time for the Ravens to put up or shut up. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are both right behind them in the division race.
Indianapolis Colts – Yes, the Colts are a surprising 9-4 with rookie sensation Andrew Luck. They play the Houston Texans twice in the final three weeks, so Indy can think about a division championship or at least a wild card berth. I don’t know anyone who predicted they would be back in contention so soon after losing Peyton Manning.
Any teams I didn’t cover are either on the bubble, like the entire NFC East, or far from contending. No worries though, as we’ll keep you up to date on all the playoff races, and offer you the freshest gear to cheer your contender on in their playoff quest. If all goes well, they will be playing in New Orleans in February.