The hunt for the NFL playoffs got a whole lot more interesting this weekend, with both the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles wiggling their way back onto the NFC bubble. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans won six out of their last seven games to put themselves into playoff consideration in the AFC.
The AFC bubble (Titans) isn’t as crowded as the NFC bubble (Rams and Eagles), but the Titans have the best shot at the playoffs thanks to backup quarterback Ryan Tannenhill. The Titans are 6-1 since head coach Mike Vrabel installed Tannenhill as the starter. With two of the season’s last three games scheduled against the Houston Texans, the Titans have a shot at securing the AFC South title. If they fall short, they’ll be chasing both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills for an AFC wild-card spot.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in a strange situation, as they’ve done everything possible to knock themselves out of playoff contention over the last several weeks. The thing is, the Dallas Cowboys have played just as badly, if not worse, extending their losing streak to five in a row. The Cowboys and Eagles have identical 6-7 records, yet the Cowboys still hold onto first place in the NFC East.
AFC Playoff Seeds
1. Baltimore Ravens (11-2)
2. New England Patriots (10-3)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)
4. Houston Texans (8-5)
5. Buffalo Bills (9-4)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
NFC Playoff Seeds
1. San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
2. Green Bay Packers (10-3)
3. New Orleans Saints (10-3)
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
6. Minnesota Vikings (9-4)
The lackluster NFC East might send a losing team to the playoff this season. The division finds itself at the center of a media maelstrom while sportswriters across the globe pen clickbait articles on the “Top 5 Worst Divisions in the History of the NFL,” and think pieces about the commissioner revamping the structure of the NFL playoffs.
AFC Bubble: Tennessee Titans
The surging Titans are on the cusp of advancing to the NFL playoffs, but they’re still on the outside of the AFC bubble. They won four in a row, and six out of their last seven games, with their only loss in the last two months occurring against the Panthers.
The Texans have been inconsistent over the last month. They’re 2-2 in their last four, with losses against the Ravens and Denver Broncos.
The Titans host the Texans this weekend for the first of two games to conclude the season. In many ways, the playoffs begin for both the Texans and Titans this Sunday.
In Week 16, the Titans host Drew Brees and the Saints. The final game of the season might determine the division and an AFC wild-card berth when the Titans head to Houston for one final knockdown.
The Titans have a tougher schedule than the Texans, with the Saints looming in Week 16. Meanwhile, the Texans head to Tampa Bay to play the Bucs (6-7).
NFC Bubble: LA Rams
The Rams are back on the bubble after a tremendous win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14. The Seahawks were undefeated on the road, but the Rams stopped them dead cold in LA with a decisive 28-12 victory.
With the Rams back on the bubble, they need a significant amount of help if they expect to backdoor an NFC wild-card berth. The future of the NFL playoffs are in their hands. The Rams must win all of their remaining three games, and hope the Seahawks (10-3) and Vikings (9-4) get bogged down in a December slump.
After a 3-3 start, the Rams are 5-2 over their last seven games, with losses against the Ravens and Steelers.
The Rams face the slumping Cowboys (6-7) in Dallas this Sunday. Then, they head north to the Bay Area for a fierce NFC West divisional battle against the 11-win Niners. The Rams lost to the Niners, 20-7, back in Week 6.
NFC Bubble: Philly Eagles
When the Eagles lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 13, everyone wrote them off after they dropped three in a row, and fell to 5-7. Now however, they’ve sprung back to life after looking like they were dead on arrival. The Eagles rallied to defeat Eli Manning and the NY Giants on Monday Night Football in an overtime thriller. The victory evened their record with the Cowboys. With three games remaining, the Eagles and Cowboys are fighting for the NFC crown.
It seems as though the situation in Dallas gets worse and worse each week. They’ve dropped three in a row, and four out of their last five games.
NFC East Key Remaining Games
Eagles: @ WAS, DAL, @ NY Giants
Cowboys: LA Rams, @ PHI, WAS
The Eagles (6-7) are in much better shape to secure a spot in the playoffs than are the Cowboys (6-7) and the Rams. They face the two worst teams in the NFC East, with road games against the Washington Redskins (3-10) and NY Giants (2-11). In Week 16, the Eagles host the Cowboys. The Cowboys smoked the Eagles earlier in the season, 37-10, in Dallas.
The Cowboys host the LA Rams this weekend, who are also on the NFL playoff bubble and in must-win mode. Obviously, it’s next weekend’s game that will most likely determine the outcome of the low-rent NFC East. Meanwhile, it seems like even if the Cowboys make the playoffs, head coach Jason Garrett is a dead man walking.