NFL Teams Show Their Playoff Prowess (Or Lack Thereof)
The reality show that is the National Football League continues to clarify its postseason field. On the 15th weekend of the season, a number of teams established themselves as legitimate playoff contenders, while others slipped into the pretenders role. Instead of postseason plans, it’s time for them to plan for the off-season.
Green Bay Packers
It’s been an up-and-down season in Green Bay. Jordan Love started like a house on fire, and the Packers won two of three to begin the season. Then the interceptions came for the young quarterback, and Green Bay dropped four straight games. There was a tantalizing resurgence and four wins in five weeks, including wins over first place teams like the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. But these last two straight losses have effectively ended their season.
It was fun while it lasted, and Wisconsin online sports bettors were gifted with an interesting, if not always successful, regular season. And it gives them all something to look forward to in 2024.
When the season began, Ohio online sportsbooks were paying plus money on the Cleveland Browns to make the playoffs. There was skepticism about Deshaun Watson at quarterback, and the AFC North looked like the toughest division in the AFC.
The North is the toughest division in the AFC, and maybe all of football. The skepticism about Watson remains. But there is no questioning the defense of this team, the coaching job done by Kevin Stefanski, and the fountain of youth discovered by new quarterback Joe Flacco. The Browns are 9-5 after their comeback win over the Chicago Bears, and BetUS.com has them at -850 to make the playoffs.
To be on their fourth different starting quarterback of the season and have a 91% chance to make the playoffs is nothing short of incredible.
Los Angeles Chargers
Opposite of the Browns are the Los Angeles Chargers. They were a playoff team a year ago, quarterback Justin Herbert is deemed to be an MVP in waiting, and NFL online bettors were getting better odds for a Chargers Super Bowl appearance (+1150) than they were for the Miami Dolphins (+1180). The Dolphins are the team that passed on Herbert and instead drafted Tua Tagovailoa, who is now paying +2500 to win the MVP at BetUS.com.
Herbert is done for the season after surgery on his broken finger, and the Chargers season came to a crashing end in Week 15 against the Las Vegas Raiders. They lost to rookie quarterback Aiden O’Connell and the Raiders, 63-21, and Chargers head coach Brandon Staley lost his job the next day.
Herbert will be back next season. But he will be learning the fourth different offense in what will be just his fifth NFL season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers now have an 84% chance to make the playoffs after their huge win at Green Bay on Sunday. The Bucs won, 34-20, and they moved back into first place in the NFC South. Baker Mayfield became the first visiting quarterback in the history of Lambeau Field to finish with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Lambeau Field first opened in 1957.
Mayfield had 381 yards passing and four touchdowns, and the Bucs are proving to be the most consistent of the teams vying for the NFC South title. They also have the easiest remaining schedule, and are now paying -150 at Bovada.lv to win the division and be the NFC’s fourth seed in the playoffs.
After peaking at 7-4 and getting everyone in Western Pennsylvania excited about a trip to the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers have now lost three games in a row. Instead of Pennsylvania sportsbooks getting ready to have both of its NFL teams in the postseason, it looks like the Steelers will be sitting at home for the second straight season.
At the end of November, the Steelers were paying -243 to make the playoffs. Now, after losses to the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, and Indianapolis Colts, those odds are +215 at BetUS.com. There is also a tough schedule ahead, with games against the 8-6 Cincinnati Bengals and the 11-3 Baltimore Ravens.
At 7-7, the only real question remaining is if Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin can extend his 16-year streak of .500 or better finishes.