Day 4 of the 7 days of blog. This piece was due to go up yesterday and almost lost it’s place today due to happenings around the non league footballing world, but I’ve decided to stick to this one and depending on what happens over the next couple of days where I already have ideas for pieces, more may shift around!
The end of a year brings the end of the regular NFL season. Week 17 arrives on Sunday and with it the culmination of months of work and the realisation for 20 teams the hard work begins in earnest for 2019. For some, there are tweaks to be made to get the franchise over the line next year and for others major surgery to compete and have a chance of end of season glory.
Going into the final week of the season most teams are settled in position and the play offs out of reach. As with any NFL season, there have been surprises along the way, notably the Chicago Bears winning the NFC North and with it knocking the Green Bay Packers off their stride.
The defending Superbowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles are hanging on by the skin of their teeth to have a shot at winning the crown once again, but they are reliant on the Minnesota Vikings losing and the Eagles defeating divisional rivals Washington Redskins.
A couple of franchises have had breakout seasons to try and break the monopoly of the New England Patriots with a surprising 5 game loss in the L column, there’s never been a better time for another franchise to take advantage. In the AFC trying to take that opportunity are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. Both Patrick Mahomes and Deshawn Watson have had excellent seasons in leading their teams to the play-offs and possibly in with a good shout of toppling the Belichick and Brady axis.
The Baltimore Ravens hold the 4th seed ahead of the Steelers and after deciding to bench QB Joe Flacco in favour of Lamar Jackson they’ve given themselves an edge over Pittsburgh and are currently in better form than their divisional rivals.
Over in the NFC, the road to Atlanta runs through New Orleans and the Saints play hard in the Superdome, not many franchises come away from here with a win. QB Drew Brees is having an outstanding season and with an abundance of weapons at his disposal the no 1 seeds will take some beating. Also in the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams have shown they have the mettle to last the distance despite the past few weeks other teams seeming to have worked out their offensive playbook.
The two lower seeds, the already mentioned Bears and the Dallas Cowboys harbour outside hopes, the Cowboys having turned around a 3-5 season into a current 9-6 record to clinch the NFC East ahead of the Eagles.
Of the play-offs teams and those in the hunt, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts are both in great form and either could easily upset the apple cart in the AFC. With Tennesse Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the hunt and also with good records going into the final round of games they can’t be discarded should they make it in.
In the NFC, the Vikings and Seattle Seahawks records are not as impressive as their AFC counterparts and know there is work to do should they both make the post season. The Eagles hopes rest on the Vikings losing, but they have the confidence of Superbowl winning QB Nick Foles in the pocket after an injury to Carson Wentz.
The beauty of the NFL is the competitive nature of the game from Week One to the last, and the unpredictability of what can happen on any given week makes it a great competition to watch.
Whose going to win the Superbowl? Your guess is as good as mine…………