NFL playoff picture: Who’s in and who’s in the hunt


Baltimore Ravens: IN 

If you read my last column, you know what I think about Lamar Jackson. He’s quite literally unstoppable and so exciting to watch. Jackson coupled with a strong running game featuring Mark Ingram and an underrated defense makes for a really scary team. You’ll be seeing the Ravens in the playoffs and perhaps in the Super Bowl. 

New England Patriots: IN 

While Tom Brady isn’t the premiere focus of the team, the Patriots are still really good. This is one of the best defenses and special teams I think I’ve ever seen (minus a kicker). They force turnovers and play really tough man coverage that causes a lot of coverage sacks and forces quarterbacks to make read after read. The Patriots are also looking like a Super Bowl team. 

Kansas City Chiefs: IN 

The Chiefs are probably the most dynamic offensive team in the NFL right now, and Andy Reid utilizes every bit of the talent they have. While defense is very iffy at times, this team is still good enough to play with anyone in the NFL and to take care of business with bad teams. Mahomes’ injury set them back record-wise, but they are still a lock for the playoffs right now. 

Houston Texans/Indianapolis Colts: In the hunt 

Both of these teams are not bad, but they definitely aren’t good. However, I think the Colts are the better team as of right now. The Texans sit at 7-4 while the Colts are at 6-5, but without the injuries to Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton, I think the Colts will win a few more of these games. The Texans have been healthy for the most part, despite Will Fuller going out, and they can’t seem to put games together. They have had games where they look incredible and games where they look like they couldn’t beat the Dolphins. I’d say they’re too inconsistent to win this division and that the Colts will take it eventually. 

Dallas Cowboys/Philadelphia Eagles: In the hunt 

I am not a believer in the Dallas Cowboys simply because I am not a believer in Jason Garrett. Dak is a good quarterback, and Zeke is a good running back. Their offensive line is one of the best in the NFL. The defense is good but not great. You would think this is a good football team, but they aren’t. That has to fall on the coaching staff. The Eagles have shown a complete turnaround this season and have a fairly easy schedule after their loss to the Seahawks. Look for them to possibly win out and take this division. Unless the Cowboys figure something out, look for Philly to mix it up in the playoffs this year. 

San Francisco 49ers: IN 

The Niners is your classic old-school football team. They have a really tough, physical defense; they run the ball a lot with three different backs; and they have a game-manager quarterback. Does this translate to a Super Bowl? Not often, but sometimes. They are reminiscent of a Joe Flacco Ravens team that won the Super Bowl because of a solid quarterback who made the throws that were needed and a very stout front line with an incredible secondary. I’m not crazy about the 49ers as a whole, but they are definitely a playoff team. 

Seattle Seahawks: IN 

The Seahawks are the best wildcard team in the NFL. At 9-2, they’re a shoo-in for the postseason, even though they won’t win their division. Russell Wilson is having an MVP season and continues to play really smart, yet dynamic, football. His ability to extend plays with his feet makes him a terror on every down, and he wears out defenses. The Seahawks are good, but I don’t think they’re in that top tier with these AFC teams. 

Green Bay Packers/Minnesota Vikings: Who knows? 

These are two teams that are very inconsistent but still have good records. The Vikings have definitely been better lately, but their quarterback is Kirk Cousins, which makes me not want to believe in them. The Packers looked absolutely terrible against the 49ers in a game that really counted for a lot. I don’t think their defense is as good as everyone thought, and their offense hasn’t been clicking against good defenses. Maybe Matt Lafleur isn’t the offensive genius everyone thought he was, because it’s definitely not a personnel issue. Regardless, I don’t think either of these teams is that good, but one of them is going to be a playoff team. Don’t look for either to make it past the first round, though. 

New Orleans Saints: IN 

Despite the injury to Drew Brees and the loss to the Falcons after that, I still think the Saints are a really good team. The rhythm of the offense has been wonky lately, and they’ve struggled to get Alvin Kamara going as of late. I think Sean Payton is still trying to find the balance of attack with Kamara and Latavius Murray, who’s been getting more touches lately. Their defense is also good enough to get stops when the offense is rolling. Look for them to make noise in the playoffs, possibly to make a run. The Saints are definitely my dark horse Super Bowl team. 

Thanks for reading, everyone. Unfortunately, this will be my last column with the Troubadour. I hope you enjoyed real sports content. Take care.