Week 12 – there isn’t much time left in the season and teams are feeling the crunch. There’s a lot to digest this week and, undoubtedly, teams are starting to under pressure to make the final push. The rest of the season could be riding on how this weekend’s games play out particularly in the NFC where the home field is up for grabs.
Packers vs 49ers In NFC Home Field Race
The Green Bay Packers are going to be on the road to take on the San Francisco 49ers in California and they’re both still in a good position in the NFC standings. If the Packers can tighten up on offense, the Niners could be in for a surprise. On the other hand, a San Fran win puts the team two games ahead of Green Bay and a virtual lock on home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. It’s do-or-die time.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the hunt, as well, and are one game behind the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers. This weekend’s game almost seems unfair, as the Steelers are a definite to win against the Cincinnati Bengals, who haven’t won a game all season. JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner will most likely be on the Pittsburgh sideline, but the Steelers will still be able to easily move up to 6-5 after Sunday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to have to go up against the Atlanta Falcons and their season is essentially over. The Falcons are going to be the better team and Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is going to be polishing his resume. He has thrown 18 interceptions this season, the most in the league, and most likely won’t be with Tampa Bay next year. Ryan Griffin might come in on Sunday, just to give him some field time to see how he might do next season.
The Philadelphia Eagles started strong against the New England Patriots last week before they apparently ran out of energy. The offense fell apart and Carson Wentz had a difficult time connecting with his receivers. They will face off against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and have a chance to find redemption, but it won’t come easy. The Seahawks are 8-2 and are determined to make it to the playoffs. If the Eagles were to pull off the upset, the entire NFC picture could change.
Sunday will also find the New Orleans Saints in a must-win game against the Carolina Panthers. Kyle Allen was able to do a lot for the Panthers while Cam Newton was sidelined with an injury, but the back-up quarterback hasn’t been consistent enough to give the Panthers a strong lead. If Allen can keep it together, there’s a chance of a postseason appearance; if not, it’s lights out. The Saints, on the other hand, will all but be guaranteed a spot if they win.
The LA Rams will host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday and the Ravens are in great shape to go to the playoffs. If the Rams were to win – not impossible, given that they just beat the Chicago Bears – then they could move up and almost be in position to battle for the NFC wild card. This would only be possible, however, if the Rams step up and give the best show of the season. That’s not likely to happen.
The playoff picture is beginning to come into focus, contingent upon how this Sunday’s matchups are settled. In the NFC, San Francisco is just ahead of Green Bay, and New Orleans and Seattle are battling for the top seed and home field advantage. The Minnesota Vikings follow, while the Panthers and the Eagles are still hanging on, hoping to win the wild card spot.
On the AFC side of the football house, there are four teams racing for a wild card spot, with the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders leading the way. The rest of the field is pretty open and will become more clear when the clocks expire in the games this weekend.