By Bryan Dietzler
The end of the 2017 NFL season is upon us. With just three weeks to go, it’s time to start figuring out who is going to be in the playoffs when the season ends. We are already seeing some teams secure spots as the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers earned a place in the playoffs. Who else is going to make the postseason?
We will find out soon.
There is another new number one team in the poll this week. The Pittsburgh Steelers climb into the top spot after New England lost and the Eagles lost their quarterback. Is Pittsburgh the best team in the NFL? We are going to find out as they will meet the Patriots this weekend. The winner could, and should, take the number one spot in next week’s poll
At the bottom of the poll, the Cleveland Browns are still the worst team in the NFL although you can almost feel them getting ready to win. They almost did on Sunday. The Broncos got a nice win on Sunday, but the New York Giants continue to struggle and will the last three weeks of the season.
Let’s take a look at my sometimes late but always consistent NFL power poll for Week 15. Where does your team rank?
- Pittsburgh Steelers-(LW 3, 11-2) It wasn’t pretty but the Steelers got it done on Sunday night and are going to be in the playoffs. Will they be the team that takes down the Patriots keeping them from reaching another Super Bowl?
- Philadelphia Eagles-(LW 2, 11-2) The Eagles clinched the NFC East but lost their quarterback for the rest of the season. I can’t make them the number one team in the poll because of this even though they are still a good team. Will they get to the Super Bowl?
- New England Patriots-(LW 1, 10-3) The Patriots fell hard to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night. This makes them tough to keep at number one. How well they do against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Week will tell where this team belongs.
- Minnesota Vikings-(LW 4, 10-3) The Vikings lost but remain a top team in the NFC right now. If the Eagles should stumble without Wentz, will they be the top team in the NFC? They just might be.
- Los Angeles Rams-(LW 5, 9-4) Despite their loss to the Eagles last week, the Rams still hold their number five spot in this poll. Let’s see how they do against Seattle this week. This game will tell a lot about both teams especially the Rams.
- Atlanta Falcons-(LW 9, 8-5) The Falcons are hard to predict. One week they look explosive and the next they fall flat. Still, this team is one of the best in the NFL. Will they be able to reach the playoffs?
- Jacksonville Jaguars-(LW 8, 9-4) After beating Seattle, this team has shown us that they are indeed for real. Jacksonville is a playoff contender and will be for a long time.
- New Orleans Saints-(LW 6, 9-4) The Saints have taken a couple of losses recently and are looking a little different than they did on their eight-game winning streak. Will they be able to get into the playoffs or are they going to falter down the stretch?
- Carolina Panthers-(LW 11, 9-4) The Panthers are a sneaky good team. They just might sneak up and take over the NFC South before it’s all said and done. At the least, they should be in the hunt for a wildcard spot.
- Seattle Seahawks-(LW 7, 8-5) This week’s game against the LA Rams is huge. The winner will win the division. Can Seattle beat the Rams and earn a playoff spot?
- Los Angeles Chargers-(LW 14, 7-6) This is a good team. Will they crack and fold down the stretch or will their momentum carry them into the playoffs?
- Dallas Cowboys-(LW 15, 7-6) The Cowboys have had an easy go of it the last couple of games. Now that they can’t win the division, they can try for wild card spot. Perhaps things will get easier for them as Ezekiel Elliott is coming back soon.
- Kansas City Chiefs-(LW 16, 7-6) The Chiefs are making a big comeback after losing several games. Will they be able to clinch the AFC West and earn a playoff berth? These next three weeks will be critical for them.
- Tennessee Titans-(LW 10, 8-5) The Titans may be the worst eight-win team in the league. Let’s see how they finish down the stretch and how well they compete against the Jaguars for the division lead. Will they be able to get to the playoffs?
- Baltimore Ravens-(LW 12, 7-6) The Ravens are still in the hunt for a playoff spot despite the fact they didn’t win AFC North. Will they play well enough to get into the playoffs?
- Green Bay Packers-(LW 18, 7-6) With Aaron Rodgers coming back, is it possible that the Packers could make the playoffs? Anything is possible with Rodgers at the helm. Let’s see how it goes.
- Detroit Lions-(LW 17, 7-6) Believe it or not; these guys are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. They play Chicago this Saturday and that may be no easy task. They will need to win out and have some help to make the post-season.
- Buffalo Bills-(LW 19, 7-6) Believe it or not the Bills are still in contention for a playoff spot and just might earn one. But with their quarterback issues, it might be difficult.
- Oakland Raiders-(LW 13, 6-7) The Raiders are still in the hunt for the AFC West but are at a disadvantage and would need a lot of help. Will they be able to do it?
- Arizona Cardinals-(LW 22, 6-7) The Cardinals are not that bad of a team and have an outside shot at making the playoffs. If they can get some things shored up this offseason, they could have a decent year in 2018.
- Miami Dolphins-(LW 24, 6-7) The Dolphins played very well against the Patriots winning that game and making us realize that there is a good foundation with this team. Look for them to be more than solid next season and win more games.
- Washington Redskins-(LW 20, 5-8) The Redskins are going to be a next year type of team. Will they keep Kirk Cousins or will they start fresh at quarterback in 2018?
- New York Jets-(LW 21, 5-8) The Jets are going to take a tumble with their quarterback out now. Is Todd Bowles’ job in jeopardy?
- Cincinnati Bengals-(LW 23, 5-8) The Bengals playoff chances are dashed. Now the biggest question is, will Marvin Lewis survive to make it to next season?
- Chicago Bears-(LW 27, 4-9) The Bears beat the Cincinnati Bengals, soundly, last Sunday and their younger players helped them step up and win. The future is promising for this team.
- Houston Texans-(LW 25, 4-9) The Texans will have to wait until next year to get to the playoffs. There is a lot of talent on this team and if they can get just a few more pieces in place they will have success.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers-(LW 26, 4-9) This team really has some trouble and will be rebuilding again this offseason. Will there be a new head coach or will they keep trying with the group they have? Do they need to change coaches?
- Denver Broncos-(LW 31, 4-9) These guys are a little better now but still have a long ways to go. Some work is needed in the offseason to get this team headed in the right direction. Hopefully, they will see improvement in 2018.
- San Francisco 49ers-(LW 29, 3-10) This team has a two-game winning streak going. What’s gotten into the 49ers? Their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo has. He’s going to be a good quarterback.
- Indianapolis Colts-(LW 28, 3-10) Hopefully this team has better luck next year. With Andrew Luck back, things should be much better.
- New York Giants-(LW 30, 2-13) These guys have so much work to do this offseason it’s not even funny. A new head coach and a new general manager are needed. It’s going to be a couple of years, at least, but this team will eventually get back into contention.
- Cleveland Browns-(LW 32, 0-13) The Browns were close to getting a win last Sunday but fell short. That is their mantra. They have three more chances to get a win. Can they get one?