We have one more week of regular season NFL football, and there is still room for lots of pandemonium in week 17 as five 10-5 AFC teams are vying for four playoff spots. It's possible that all five of those teams win, and an 11-5 team is left out of the postseason. That would be insane, especially given that there are only four teams in the NFC right now with double digit wins. It's going to be fascinating to see who's in and who's out when it's all said and done.
Prior to the start of the season, I predicted the final standings for each division, highlighting the teams that would make it into the playoffs when the season is all said and done. I still stand by some of my original predictions, but there are certainly teams that have surprised me, both positively and negatively, through the length of the NFL season. After every four weeks I have updated my previous division standings and playoff outlook to reflect what I think will occur for the remainder of the season and how the final standings will shake out. Keep reading if you want to know where your team will finish in the playoff picture this year.
x - clinch division
y - clinch wild card
As we come down the home stretch of the regular season, each game begins to matter more and more for the teams still in playoff contention. Every team in the hunt is competing for either a better seed or a postseason spot in general. There were several games this week that had significant implications regarding teams' chances at the playoffs or their seeding when that time comes. I'll be recapping the most important games and giving my insight on what the outcome means for those respective teams.
Kansas City Chiefs - 33, Miami Dolphins - 27
It looked like the Dolphins were on their way to a major upset, as they led 10-0 five minutes into the second quarter. However, after heavy doses of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce and a 67-yard punt return touchdown by Mecole Hardman, Patrick Mahomes' team scored 30 straight points to hold a 30-10 lead at the end of the third quarter. While Miami was able to come back in the fourth to make it a one possession game with over four minutes to play, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker knocked in a 46-yard field goal to essentially secure his team a win.
I've typically written my full rankings after every three weeks of the season, though with a week 12 overlap between my rankings and my end of season predictions, I had to push back the former to this week. The next time I rank all the NFL teams from top to bottom will be after the final game of the season in week 17. While some teams have stayed consistent from the first nine weeks to now, some have surged and others have taken turns for the worse. There has been a lot of movement from some of the teams since my last rankings due to signs of significant improvements or deteriorations. As before, I'll be ranking each team based on their overall performances, not based on their potential or how I think they will play going forward. Among other things, my rankings take into account opponent strengths, head-to-head matchups, flukes, and competitiveness throughout games for each team rather than a basis centered solely around win-loss records.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) - UP 1
Week 12 Result: W, 22-16 vs. Broncos
While most rankings still held the formerly unbeaten Steelers ahead of the Chiefs simply as a formality, it can now be officially stated the Kansas City is the best team in the league. They've won 20 of their last 21 games and play more or less to their level of competition, meaning Patrick Mahomes and Co. should be able to turn it on in the postseason when the games start to really matter. Until proven otherwise, I won't bet on anyone to beat the Chiefs outright probably for the next 10 years or so.
Up Next: at Dolphins
We're down to about the last quarter of the season, and the race for the playoffs is starting to get tighter as each game begins to matter more and more. It's going to be exciting to see who is able to get the big wins they need and who will be on the wrong side of the line drawn after the seventh-ranked team in each conference.
Prior to the start of the season, I predicted the final standings for each division, highlighting the teams that would make it into the playoffs when the season is all said and done. I still stand by some of my original predictions, but there are certainly teams that have surprised me, both positively and negatively, through the first quarter of the NFL season. After every four weeks I will update my previous division standings and playoff outlook to reflect what I think will occur for the remainder of the season and how the final standings will shake out. Keep reading if you want to know where your team will finish in the playoff picture this year.
x - clinch division
y - clinch wild card
Each week in the NFL, there are a select number of players who have exceptional performances that help lead their teams to victories. However, in week 12, for whatever reason, there were some guys who had absolutely spectacular days and put up the kinds of numbers that we have rarely seen before. Let's take a look at the stat lines of those players.
1. Tyreek Hill
13 receptions, 269 yards, 3 TDs
Tyreek Hill was the most impressive of the week 12 performers in my opinion. He made it look the Buccaneers' secondary wasn't even trying to guard him. He had touchdown grabs of 75, 44, and 20 yards and seemed to get open at will all afternoon. He secured 13 of his 15 targets, and his yardage after the catch was equally as impressive as his route running and ability to find holes in the defense. On his second touchdown catch in the first quarter, Hill got wide open before receiving a deep pass, side stepping a defender, and turning around to backflip into the end zone. Do you realize how confidently wide open you have to be to decide to backflip into the end zone in an NFL game? The disrespect... The even crazier part is that he could've had a bigger day, but Kansas City practically gave up in the fourth quarter as they knew they were going to cruise to victory. To cap off his day, Hill caught the game-sealing first down pass from Patrick Mahomes when Tampa Bay pulled within three points.