The NFL Playoffs are just about here. Check out the Top 8 questions heading into this year’s playoffs.
2017 NFL Playoffs Questions
How Will Philly QB Nick Foles Perform in the Postseason?
Philadelphia Eagles QB backup Nick Foles played about as well as possible filling in for Carson Wentz in NFL Week 15. He completed 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards. He threw 4 TD passes. Foles completed 63.2% of his passes on his way to a 115.8 QB rating. Based on that performance, Foles should have no trouble leading the Eagles’ offense in the postseason.
But, the Week 15 performance should come with an asterisk. First, the Eagles played the New York Giants. Second, Foles only completed 63.2% of his passes. For Foles to be effective in the NFC Playoffs, he must complete over 65% of his passes at the very least.
We’ll see what he does in Week 16 and Week 17. I’m leaning towards Foles not performaing all that great in the postseason, though.
Is Jaguars QB Blake Bortles Late Season Play for Real?
I’d be on the fence about this if I didn’t watch some of what Bortles has done in the past three Jacksonville Jaguar games. What I’ve seen is a quarterback in full control of an offense. His TD to INT ratio is 7 to 0. He’s completed over 70% of his pass attempts in two of the 3 games. In the other game, Bortles completed 66.7% of his passes.
Most importantly? The Jaguars beat the Indianapolis Colts 30 to 10, the Seattle Seahawks 30 to 24, and the Houston Texans 45 to 7. I believe the switch finally turned on for Bortles. I expect him to play this well in the playoffs.
What’s Going to Happen to Pittsburgh’s Passing Attack Without WR Antonio Brown?
This is a much tougher question to answer than many might believe it to be. A lot of NFL fans, at least those that don’t play fantasy football, haven’t recognized how great Antonio Brown is. The reason is because the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is named Big Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers’ best running back is named Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh is known for fielding excellent defenses.
That’s way many NFL fans and analysts don’t expect Pittsburgh’s offense to suddenly take a backward step because Antonio Brown is out with a torn calf muscle. Look at all the other weapons Pittsburgh has?
But, that’s just it. Brown is the weapon that allows Pitt to utilize all those other offensive weapons. JuJu Smith-Schuster isn’t going to demand double coverage on every play. Martavis Bryant won’t take away the teams best corner and free safety. Antonio Brown can do that.
Pitt’s passing attack could suffer because it’s lost the focal point of its offense. Once defense realize this, they’ll adjust. Beating a Pittsburgh offense without Brown is going to be much easier than beating a Pitt offense with Brown.
Will the Minnesota Vikings Hit a Rough Patch at the Worst Time?
This is a legitimate question. The Minnesota Vikings had won 8 games in a row before losing 24 to 31 to the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 10. After the loss, Minnesota bounced back with a 34 to 7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. It doesn’t look like Minnesota will hit a rough patch at the wrong time.
Then again, the Minnesota Vikings are a team with Case Keenum as their starting quarterback. The Vikings also lost their top running back early this season. Ups and downs occur in the NFL. Although I hope it doesn’t happen, I’ve got a bad feeling that Minnesota’s just about to hit a few downs.
Are the New England Patriots Really a Lock to Represent the AFC?
The odds on the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl 52 have plummeted from +350 to +240. That’s to win Super Bowl 52. That’s not to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 52. There are some NFL bettors who believe that New England is a lock.
I’m not one of them. To me, there are a number of things against the Patriots even making this year’s Super Bowl. New England’s defense isn’t as good as it’s looked in recent games. The D could get exposed in the playoffs. The Patriots offense is excellent, but it’s battled some of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Since their bye, New England has played Denver, Oakland, Miami, Buffalo, Miami, and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh probably should have beaten the Patriots in Week 15. Miami did beat the Patriots in Week 14. I believe New England is a deserving favorite. I don’t believe they’re a lock.
Have the Kansas City Chiefs Turned it Around After Their Mid-Season Swoon?
In the first 5 weeks of the NFL Regular Season, no team was as hot as the Kansas City Chiefs. It wasn’t even close. The Chiefs had beaten New England, Philadelphia, the L.A. Chargers, Washington, and Houston with QB DeShaun Watson. It looked like no team was going to stand in the Chiefs way of running over the conference.
Then, it all fell apart. KC lost 3 out of their next 4. They dropped games to Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Dallas. The only team the Chiefs beat in the month before their bye were the horrible Denver Broncos. After their bye, things got worse. The Chiefs dropped 3 straight to the Giants, Buffalo, and the Jets. Those are 3 teams that the early season Kansas City Chiefs would have dominated.
In the last couple of weeks, things have turned around again for the Kansas City Chiefs. KC dominated the rival Raiders 26 to 15 in Week 14. In Week 15, Kansas City put a serious beat down on the L.A. Chargers. KC beat the Bolts 30 to 13 in a game between AFC West Division leaders.
The Chiefs are hot again. If they can carry it over into the playoffs, they can win the AFC.
Are the L.A. Rams a Real Super Bowl Contender?
This is a tough question to answer. The Rams had their breakout game in Week 15 when they went up to Seattle and dominated the Seahawks 42 to 7. It was a very good performance by the Rams. A deep dive into the performance, though, shows that the L.A. Rams might not be as good as the score in the Seattle win indicates.
The usually stout Seattle defense allowed the Rams to rush for 244 yards from 43 carries. L.A.’s best offensive player, RB Todd Gurley II, rushed for 152 yards from 21 carries. Gurley scored 3 rushing TDs.
Jared Goff, the Rams starting QB, had a pretty awful game. Goff completed 14 of 21 passes for 120 yards. He threw 2 TD passes. He threw an interception. I don’t believe Goff is ready to take this team to the Super Bowl. To me, that’s the biggest reason the Rams aren’t real Super Bowl contenders.
There will be a point in the playoffs when the Rams must lean on Jared Goff. I’m not sure he’s ready to be the guy that gets the Rams to the Promised Land.
Are the Saints Drew Brees and Sean Payton on the Doorstep of Another Super Bowl Victory?
Because I’m a Saints fan, I sure hope so! No, seriously, this is the best team that Sean Payton and Drew Brees have had since New Orleans won the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2010. New Orleans doesn’t have to lean on Brees to win football games. They don’t have to score over 30 points per game in most weeks to win football games.
That’s how big of a turnaround its been for New Orleans’ defense. What’s crazy is that even though New Orleans has a top rushing attack, even though the defense won’t lose games anymore, whether or not the Saints win Super Bowl 52 depends on Sean Payton and Drew Brees.
If Payton has a bad day calling plays, or if Brees is off, the Saints are toast. It won’t matter what else happens. So, yes, the Saints are on the doorstep. It’s going to be up to Sean Payton and Drew Brees if they end up entering, though.