I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Saturday, December 21, 2013

NFL Week 16

Playoff time is quickly approaching, and NFL fans are beginning to feel the excitement of a possible Super Bowl appearance or the possibility of having the 1st round pick in the 2014 Draft. Going into Week 16, there are only two games that do not have any playoff relevance, and the playoff picture is still clear as mud when it comes to seedings. Teams like Denver and Kansas City could be the #1 seed in the AFC, or they could end up being the #5 seed if they do not win their division. Teams like Miami, Baltimore, Carolina, San Francisco, Dallas, and Green Bay are all considered in the chase for wild card spots and potentially division titles as well. It has been an interesting and unpredictable year in the NFL, and the playoffs will definitely reflect the season. Here are a just a few of the things to watch in week 16 of the NFL playoff chase:

New Orleans at Carolina

If New Orleans wins, they will win the division and receive a 1st round bye. If they lose, then they are still battling for the division title and a wild card seed going into week 17. The first time these teams played in New Orleans, Carolina was able to start fast, but Drew Brees and the Saints offense were unstoppable. Carolina will be in the playoffs with a win and a chance to win the division going into week 17. Cam Newton and the team were hitting their stride and playing very well going into New Orleans, and they were left feeling they did not play up to expectations. Look for Newton and the Panthers to come into this game playing very inspired football!

Chicago at Philadelphia

Both teams are sitting atop of their division, but they have huge division games next week with Green Bay and Dallas. Neither team can afford to suffer a loss here, and losses this week could decide their fate for the playoffs. Both teams could potentially fall from the division lead to not even making the playoffs. The Eagles were embarrassed last week in Minnesota, and the Bears beat a stingy Cleveland Browns team with Jay Cutler back at the helm. Look for an emotional and hard fought game, as the players on both teams realize what is on the line.

New England at Baltimore

New England will win their division with a win this week, but they have a very inspired Miami Dolphins team close behind. Baltimore was able to get a huge win at Detroit last week with a game ending 61 yard field goal. New England will have to travel to Baltimore, and the Ravens appear to be playing the outstanding defense that everyone is used to seeing. Tom Brady will have his hands full trying to avoid pressure from Suggs and Dumerville, but can Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense put up TD’s and not just rely on field goals? Baltimore still has a chance to win the division and needs a win to maintain their wild card position. This will be another hard fought battle, and minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on opportunities to score will make the difference.

At this point in the season the playoff hunt is still pretty open, and the teams that are finding their momentum now will keep things interesting! These Week 16 games are going to be exciting and hopefully will clear up the playoff picture. Enjoy!

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