A preview at this season’s NFL playoff picture

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A preview at this season’s NFL playoff picture

By Frankie Rizzo, Sports Editor

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A team may have a scenario where its win and in, or a complex scenario where they need to win and multiple teams need a loss. Here’s a look at the NFL playoff picture by division:

AFC North: The the Steelers and Ravens are in the conversation for the postseason. The Ravens (8-6) have seemed to find new light with the recent starts from rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, winning his three of his first four starts.The Steelers (8-5-1) have been all over the headlines this season with star running back Le’Veon Bell refusing to report to the team after receiving the franchise tag. Still, the Steelers have been a dominant force behind 14- year vet quaterback Ben Roethlisberger and all-pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, along with upstart RB James Conner filling in big shoes.
Prediction: Steelers win the division, Ravens contend for 6th wild card spot.

AFC South: The late season emergence of RB Derrick Henry has the Titans (8-6) competing for the 6th seed in the AFC. The Colts (8-6) can also slide into the playoffs with the return of former number one pick Andrew Luck. The Colts have low key been putting on big numbers this season, so do not be surprised for them to find their way in the AFC’s final spot. The big story here is how good the Texans (10-4) have been playing. They previously were sitting on a nine game winning streak, and are looking at a top spot in this year’s playoffs behind second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Prediction: Texans win division, Colts and Titans contend for 6th wild card spot.

AFC East: When you are in a division with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, it is hard to come up on top. Teams in this division almost automatically start at 0-2 just due to the fact that they have to play the Patriots (9-5) two times a year. Surprisingly though, the Dolphins (7-7) are still in contention for the last spot in the AFC. And after the ‘Miami Miracle,” the Dolphins find themself knocking on the door of the postseason.
Prediction: Patriots win the division, Dolphins contend for 6th wild card spot.

AFC West: The Chiefs (11-3) have been this year’s super team mostly due to their explosive offense. The Chargers (11-3) are probably the biggest surprise of the season, with no one really noticing how good they actually are when veteran QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, and WR Keenan Allen all play in sync. These two teams have punched their ticket to the playoffs; it just comes down to who will represent the division and who will take a wild card spot. And with a relatively easy schedule.
Prediction: Chiefs win division, Chargers get 5th seed in wild card.

NFC North: Many would think that the Vikings (7-6-1) would be the leaders of this division after signing QB Kirk Cousins this offseason, but it is the Chicago Bears (10-4) making the headlines. With superb defensive play behind LB Khalil Mack, and good play on offense, the Bears are sitting on the top spot in this division. The Vikings look to be in line for the last spot in the NFC, especially with teams like the Redskins and Panthers falling rapidly late in the season.
Prediction: Vikings contend for 6th wild card spot (Bears already clinched division).

NFC South: The Panthers (6-8) looked to be a threat early in the season, starting with a record of 6-2, but have since lost the last five games and need help to see the postseason this year. The Saints (11-3), on the other hand, have been close to unstoppable this season. With an MVP campaign being put on by QB Drew Brees, alongside RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas, the Saints offense has been phenomenal. With a solid defense as well, the Saints have positioned themselves as Super Bowl favorites.
Saints already won division.

NFC East: The NFC East is most likely the most up in the air divison as it is one of the weaker ones. The Cowboys (8-6) and last year’s Super Bowl champion the Eagles (7-7) are the two real contenders here. Before this week, Dallas was playing hard with great play from their defense and RB Ezekiel Elliott, but after a shutout performance against the Colts, many are reconsidering the Cowboys’ credibility. Meanwhile, the Eagles just pulled off a huge upset against the Rams on Sunday Night. This might be the toughest to predict, but the Eagles might have the edge here late in the season.
Prediction: Eagles win the division.

NFC West: The Rams (11-3) have been one of the teams on top of the NFC, with an explosive offense ran by QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley. They already have won the division, solidifying their spot in the playoffs. The Seahawks (8-5) always find a way to stay competitive, and look to represent the NFC as a wild card team this season. Right now they are in line for the fifth spot in the conference.

Seeding Prediction

NFC                                                 AFC
1: Saints                                          1: Chiefs
2: Rams                                           2: Patriots
3: Bears                                          3: Texans
4: Eagles                                        4: Steelers
5: Seahawks                                5: Chargers
6: Vikings                                      6: Ravens