With Week 14 in the 2012 NFL season in the books let us look back and go over some things I learned from Week 14:
1. Denver’s weak schedule could hurt them come playoff time
The Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL right now after winning 8 straight games to a 10-3 record heading into Week 15. The only problem is their strength of schedule isn’t all that strong. The three losses on the Broncos record have come at the hands of Atlanta (best record in the NFC), Houston (best record in the AFC) and New England (2nd best record in the AFC), those are really strong opponents as a win could’ve shown Denver deserves to be considered a top AFC team.
Denver’s best wins this season have come in Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh, Week 9 vs. Cincinnati and Week 13 vs. Tampa Bay. With the exception of the Bucs, none of those teams were above .500 when the game was played. Denver will play Baltimore in a pretty telling matchup in regards to AFC playoff standings and then round out the year against Cleveland & Kansas City, not necessarily strong teams.
How the Denver Broncos weak schedule affects them come January will be something you should keep an eye on.
2. Dallas and Washington are making things really interesting in the NFC East
The NFC East is the most exciting division in the NFL this season hands down. With three games to go we have three of the four teams battling it out for the division crown. Of those three teams, two of them, Dallas and Washington, will just not go away making life miserable for the New York Giants.
Intuition is telling me that this will be a “shoot-out” in Week 17 for some reason and that any one of the three teams (New York, Washington & Dallas) could be playoff-bound this season. While New York didn’t slip up this week, they cannot from here on out as both Dallas and Washington has a ton of momentum going for them right now. As we all know this time of the year, it’s not necessarily the best team that wins the division but the one with the most momentum at the right time.
3. Remember when I said Chicago was in-trouble? Well, they are in even more trouble now.
If you’ve been listening to The Bower Show in recent weeks you know I have not been a big fan of the 2012 Chicago Bears lately. I felt like this was a “smoke and mirrors” team that could be exposed for not being as good as their record shows at any moment. While the Bears have been dealt with some injuries and just pure bad luck (Robbie Gould getting injured before the Week 14 game), it’s showing what I have been saying all along: Chicago just isn’t good.
If Chicago wanted to prove critics like myself wrong all they had to do was show up and play. They have struggled since their Monday Night Football loss to San Francisco and it’s only going to get harder as they play Green Bay in Week 15. The Bears are potentially setting themselves up for backing out of playoff contention...could be an interesting final three weeks.
4. Atlanta cannot afford to have losses like that for the rest of this season
It’s taken me some time to give Atlanta credit for everything they have completed this season and when I finally gave Atlanta props they lose like that against Carolina. The Falcons cannot have a loss like that for the rest of the season because they need to start getting in that playoff mindset right now. We all know Atlanta has struggled when it comes to playoff time ever since Matt Ryan became their quarterback and they need every ounce of momentum to carry them into the playoffs.
They will get a good opportunity to prepare themselves for that playoff mindset when they take on the New York Giants in Week 15. A victory against the Giants will give this team the momentum they need with just a couple games to go and the home-field advantage in the NFC within their grasps. Insane to think their is pressure on a 11-2 team with three games to go.
5. Seattle is getting red-hot at the right time
For some reason this Seattle Seahawks team is reminding me of the New York Giants from 2007 & 2011. They were both teams that weren’t supposed to make the playoffs, they both had a lot of adversity against them and their quarterback was overshadowed by other top QB stars in the league. The positive thing about these comparisons is that these teams also got hot at the right time with the season coming to an end.
Seattle just looks unbeatable at the moment and it’s because this team is extremely confident. They believe in themselves because they know everyone else does not believe in them and the success they could achieve come January. Should Seattle continue to play this way and make the playoffs they can be one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs.
6. The New York Giants will control their playoff destiny from here on out
Going into their late-afternoon game against the New Orleans Saints I had my doubts about the Giants winning the game. I say this because it seemed like a better story that the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins would all be tied up in the NFC East with just three games to go. Growing up in New York my whole life this seemed like the perfect time for the Giants to make things interesting and take years off of their fans life (Giants fans reading this can agree with me on that) like they always do come December.
With three games to go the Giants success is up to themselves. The Giants will be tested and one sidestep in the next three weeks could be crucial. The final three weeks of the season looks like this for all the NFC East contending teams:
- New York plays Atlanta, Baltimore & Philadelphia
- Dallas plays Pittsburgh, New Orleans & Washington
- Washington plays Cleveland, Philadelphia & Dallas
It’s not going to be easy for New York but they are in the driver seat looking forward right now.
7. The Green Bay Packers are quietly “putting it together” in these final few weeks
Ever since their Week 12 loss versus the New York Giants, the Green Bay Packers have quietly bounced back into being a top NFC team once again. They have quietly improved all the weaknesses that were exposed by the New York Giants in Week 12 and are doing so in a “not-so-Green Bay fashion.” What I mean by that is the final score is not reflective of the improvements they have made in recent weeks.
The Packers seem to have found a running game the last two weeks as Alex Green has really improved the Green Bay run offense with James Starks out. While they haven’t been perfect, the Packers offensive line has improved in protecting Aaron Rodgers from the defensive pressure. These were two major weaknesses that Green Bay has that have been improving at a steady rate in the last two games, how those two factors look in Week 15 against Chicago will tell a major story in how the Packers could perform come playoff time.
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