Real contenders know to finish strong
If we can protect Cutler better, we're still very much in this. Here's our remaining schedule:
LINK to the article Real contenders know to finish strong With the closing stretch upon us, which teams are poised for Super Bowl runs? Finish strong. That is the goal of every NFL team, but particularly for the teams that have taken advantage of September and October and kept themselves in position to make a playoff run. The last six weeks of the regular season are critical.
"After Thanksgiving, you better be playing your best football or on your way toward playing your best football if you're going to be representative," New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said this week.
That's where we are. The bye weeks are now over. It is the delicious stretch run. Six more weeks for teams to jell and gain momentum for the ultimate season: the second season.
There are typically two ways teams make Super Bowl runs. One is through sustained excellence throughout a season, like New Orleans (13-3) and Indianapolis (14-2) did in 2009 and New England (16-0) in 2007. The other is by getting hot late, like the Giants did in 2011 (6-6 heading into Week 14) and Green Bay did in 2010 (8-6 heading into Week 16).
With eight teams entering Week 12 with seven wins or more, sustained excellence is the frontrunner for the winning path this season, which begs the question: Of those eight, which two are best positioned for a postseason run?
In the AFC, the drama over which teams will win the divisions is all but gone. Houston, New England and Denver all hold healthy leads over their divisional counterparts. Baltimore has a two-game lead over Pittsburgh, which will be without Ben Roethlisberger again this week at Cleveland and may be without him next week for the rematch at the Ravens.
In the NFC, Atlanta has a three-game lead over 6-4 Tampa Bay and a four-game lead over 5-5 New Orleans, two teams that are surging but probably dug too deep of holes early to prevent the Falcons from winning the NFC South. San Francisco has a 1½-game lead over Seattle in the NFC West. Things are murky in the NFC North with Green Bay and Chicago both 7-3, and the NFC East should be a dogfight between Dallas and the New York Giants, teams that split their season series.
If the playoffs started after Week 11, nine teams that played in the postseason in 2011 would be in: Houston, Baltimore, New England, Denver and Pittsburgh in the AFC; Atlanta, San Francisco, Green Bay and New York in the NFC. The three newcomers would be Chicago, Seattle and Indianapolis. So there should be plenty of teams with postseason experience playing in January, which would add another layer to the equation.
At this point, here is my revised Super Bowl pick: Denver against Green Bay.
Yes, the Broncos will be without Willis McGahee for the stretch run and the beginning of the playoffs, a huge blow given that McGahee has had three 100-yard rushing games this season. McGahee forced opponents to stay honest against the run. He will be out at least until the AFC Championship Game with a fracture in his leg and torn medial collateral ligament.
But Denver can endure. During their five-game winning streak, the Broncos have scored at least 30 points every game, averaging 33.2. Overall, they have the third-ranked offense (394.2 yards per game), are third in touchdowns (36) and second in scoring (30.1 points per game).
After an understandably slow start, Peyton Manning has been terrific, completing 71.4 percent of his passes for an average of 295.2 yards in the past five games, with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. And the Broncos' defense ranks sixth in the league in yards allowed (312.8 yards per game) and 11th in scoring (21.2 points per game).
The Broncos' schedule down the stretch should help them maintain momentum. Three of Denver's next four games are on the road, and they close with Cleveland and Kansas City at home.
The Packers should have an asterisk next to their 7-3 record. Were it not for a botched call by a replacement official at the end of the game at Seattle, Green Bay would be a strong 8-2. The Packers' much-maligned defense of 2011 has vastly improved. A season after finishing last in the league in yards allowed, Green Bay is 16th, allowing 343.9 yards per game, and 10th in scoring, allowing 20.7 points per game.
After an early season slump, Aaron Rodgers has settled into a groove. During their five-game winning streak, the Packers have averaged 30.2 points per game. In essence, they are who we thought in the preseason they would be: one of the best teams in the best conference in football.
The Packers' remaining schedule: at the Giants (more on that below), Minnesota, Detroit, at Chicago, Tennessee and at Minnesota.
Finish strong. It is imperative. That's what I expect the Broncos and Packers, teams that have two of the best quarterbacks in the game, to do.
Last edited by JustAnotherBearsFan99; 11-23-2012 at 09:02 PM.
Thanks For The Memories
Well, if it turns out that it is the Donkeys and the Packers in the Super Bowl, I'll be pulling for Denver because of my boy Peyton Manning from my alma mater of Tennessee representing Vol Nation.
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We'll be lucky to split those games. 10-6 wildcard and OUT!
Arguing on the internet is like winning the special olympics, even if you win your still messed up.
Restore the roar!