The NFL regular season schedule came to an end over the weekend.
For some teams it was merciful relief from seasons gone horribly, wretchedly, wrong. We’re looking at you Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona and Carolina.
For others, just another day at the office as they did what everyone expected, like New England, which one its seventh in a row and finished with the best mark in the league at 14-2.
What is troublesome about the post-season aren’t so much the match-ups, but injuries to key personnel at the worst possible time for teams many thought might run the table.
Oakland, for instance, will have to do without the services of Derek Carr AND Matt McGloin, which means third-stringer Connor Cook as the helm against Houston on Saturday. The Texans are no better off with Brock Osweiler, who was completely underwhelming after taking the big bucks in Texas.
The playoff picture has many potential pitfalls and just as many points of exploitation for a few teams. In the end, though, there can only be one winner. Here are the 12 playoff contenders (and pretenders), ranked from 12th to first in terms of their chances.
No matter which way you look at Saturday’s AFC wild card tilt between the 12-4 Oakland Raiders and 9-7 Houston Texans, it’s pretty much a dog’s breakfast. As we noted in the preamble, Oakland will most likely be starting third-string pivot Connor Cook, who has thrown the ball just 21 times and has inspired zero confidence in Raiders nation. Houston’s quarterback, on the other hand, has been the totally mediocre Brock Osweiler. Between the two, we think the mighty Oz might just have enough in him to drag the sorry Texans into the next round. The only way the Raiders win is if they play good defence and kicker Sebastian Janikowski out-boots Houston’s Nick Novak — which could be the marquee match-up in a game that might likely finish 9-6. Speaking of defence, Oakland was pretty horrible, finishing 26th in yards against (6,001) and 20th in points against (385). Houston? First in yards against and 11th in points against. Bye bye, Raiders.