Just because the regular season came to a close doesn’t mean that this column is over. We have several weeks of playoff action to tend to and it starts with looking at the 12 NFL teams that will make up the postseason field, as Super Bowl 51 Contenders. So let’s look at all 12 teams and get you ready for football betting in the playoffs. My 1-12 rankings here are representative of how I think this whole thing could finish.
Super Bowl 51 Contenders
12 – Detroit Lions – Talk about a wounded animal. This team backed into the playoffs and will probably be one and done. Still, losing Megatron in the offseason and then making the postseason is very impressive. It’s something to build on.
11 – Miami Dolphins – What a tough team to figure out. Miami excels versus bad teams and struggles versus good teams. The issue here is that the playoffs are full of good teams! I think that the Fins will be one and done, but I do think that they’ll keep it close.
10 – Houston Texans – Without JJ Watt this is merely a gutsy team that won a bad division. No one really knows what to expect from them, other than an ugly game this weekend.
9 – Oakland Raiders – What a shame. No Derek Carr means almost no chance. But they could ‘upset’ in Houston this week. This team has come a long way in 2017 on the strength of an amazing offensive line, a great running attack and a now-absent QB.
8 – New York Giants – If the old adage of defense wins championships is true then the G-Men have a shot at this thing. Still, I don’t like their lack of running game, particularly in cold weather games. They have experience and a couple of playmakers, so you never know.
7- Green Bay Packers – Yes, Aaron Rodgers have been outstanding, there’s no refuting his 6-0 record in recent weeks. But, they can’t run the ball and their defense is prone to giving up a lot of yardage. Can A-Rod literally will them to a title? It’s not impossible. But it’ll be tough.
6 – Seattle Seahawks – Somehow, the Seahawks have managed to fly under the radar this season and still put up a 10-win season to capture their division. Russell Wilson knows how to win. Pete Carroll knows how to get the best out of his players. But it all starts with the first win. Now that it’s the postseason Seattle won’t surprise anyone.
5 – Pittsburgh Steelers – The black and gold were a trendy pick in preseason to reach the Super Bowl. After a tough start to the season they now look like that team that everyone thought could take it all. Heck, even their backups are clicking right now. The key for them will be getting stops on defense. We know the offense can score, but can the D limit the big plays? We’ll find out.
4 – Atlanta Falcons – This franchise has a history of underachieving in December and January in recent years, and so naturally there’s some trepidation here. That said, Matt Ryan looks like a man on a mission to get some respect. If his RBs can run effectively to set up the playaction then Atlanta could run up the score against some good teams. However, this is yet another team where I worry that the defense isn’t good enough to win a title.
3 – Kansas City Chiefs – All of the pieces are here for a playoff run. The playmakers in the passing game are there. The defense has a couple of players that require double teams at times. The quarterback is experienced, healthy and mobile. Even the running game has some strong potential. Andy Reid has been a head coach for 25 years and has yet to win the big one. He’ll have to pull out some creative Tyreek Hill plays to win the AFC and get to the title game. It’s definitely possible.
2 – Dallas Cowboys – A rookie QB and RB are expected to carry this team to the promised land. It’s a tall order but one that the fans, locker room and media all think can happen. I am less worried about the running game than I am about the pass. If the Cowboys get the Giants in the first round it could be tough. If they get the Seahawks in the second round it could be even worse. This is all on Dak Prescott. Is he ready? We’ll find out.
1 – New England Patriots – Everything about this franchise this season says championship. The weaknesses are few and the experience is aplenty. I worry about the Gronkowski absence, but Bennett is no slouch at tight end. At this point I have to give New England the nod as THE favorites to win it all.
Enjoy the playoffs everyone.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.