Week 11 will be decisive for many playoff hopefuls across the National Football League.
Some seem locks (New England, New Orleans, Baltimore) whilst almost 20 other teams will still have designs on being there when the real stuff begins.
Here’s a snapshot on each team’s playoff push. (I’ve left out those who have little-to-no chance although I do stand to be corrected)
PATRIOTS: 270 points for, 98 against, remarkable numbers and that includes the 37 Baltimore dropped on them. A first-round bye and home field advantage awaits this irrepressible machine.
BILLS: Overcoming New England seems 100/1 but a wildcard spot is attainable. They’re currently in that position with Miami and Denver on the schedule ahead. A playoff spot could be locked away within a fortnight.
CHIEFS: With Patrick Mahomes back, all should steady up in KC. Yes, they lost upon his return but he’s the MVP phenom for a reason and despite a poor defence, Mahomes and his offensively talented friends should do enough to qualify as AFC West winners.
RAIDERS: They’ve had a strong season. Antonio Brown deserted them and Tyrell Williams has had some problems staying healthy. Josh Jacobs is excellent and Derek Carr has played well. They’re a wildcard sneaky but nothing more.
CHARGERS: They’ve underperformed for most of the season. A couple of their losses have been catastrophic but here they are with an outside shot of sneaking in.
RAVENS: Action Jackson has been a sensation (some are saying MVP) and the Ravens are runaway favourites to claim the AFC North. They score heavily and have won five straight.
STEELERS: Have done amazingly well to be 5-5 despite losing to Cleveland last Monday Night. Mason Rudolph can do just enough to keep things rolling but losing James Conner could be the straw that broke the Bumblebees back.
BROWNS: Not for mine. Not without Myles Garrett and not with Baker Mayfield’s inconsistencies at QB. The team has struggled in the red zone and David Njoku’s absence has been understated in that area of the field.
TEXANS: Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Hopkins is money but without playmaker JJ Watt pestering opposing quarterbacks it could be tough to make a run.
They could easily go 0-3 in their next few with Baltimore, Indy and New England awaiting them.
COLTS: Yes, they lost to Miami last week but Jacoby Brissett was out and the Fins have actually picked things up of late. Their clash with Houston in a fortnight could be the decider regarding anything relating post-season play.
TITANS: Ryan Tannehill has stepped in a played well. Problem is, they’re closer to being last in their division than being first so every single week is absolutely crucial.
JAGUARS: They actually are last in the AFC South but Nick Foles has returned and they are just two games behind AFC South leaders, Houston. Everything would need to go right which seems unlikely in Duval.
COWBOYS: A crucial few games await including one versus New England but Dallas is playing some decent football. The Dak Prescott to Amari Cooper connection is money but Ezekiel Elliott needs to up the ante to ensure this team appears when the whips crack.
EAGLES: Tomorrow’s clash with the Pats is enormous. Win and they’re rolling. Lose and see Dallas beat the Bills and things get tricky.
NINERS: Their unbeaten record is gone and the team who ended the run is hot on their heels inside the division. A wildcard spot seems assured but they are gunning for much more. Jimmy Garoppolo is competent and when he plays they just win games.
SEAHAWKS: Russell Wilson has to be the most valuable player in the NFL. It was so obvious – to some – that he would lead his ‘Hawks to a victory against the previously unbeaten 49ers. They have a run game, a defence and they have Ciara’s hubby.
RAMS: Things have gone awry this season but they are in the hunt… just. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley have both regressed this season and they desperately need them back. Jalen Ramsey’s acquisition has helped but only the QB can single-handedly change the fortunes of the team.
PACKERS: Aaron Rodgers is chasing Wilson for MVP status. His play has been stunning in Matt LaFleur’s new system. The defence has made giant strides as well and winning against this team at Lambeau in that inclement weather is still brutally hard.
VIKINGS: Only one game adrift of Green Bay and dangerous no matter who they face thanks largely to Dalvin Cook’s health and performance this season. Kirk Cousins has been excellent and they have two great receivers but Cook has been the difference-maker this season.
BEARS: Go get Cam Newton. They may sneak in this season but there’s no playoff run to be had. Go and get Cam Newton, get him healthy and you’ll be scary.
SAINTS: Drew Brees is back and things should roll along nicely. The Panthers are two games behind and even though 1-7 Atlanta came in and beat them, winning inside Mercedes Benz Arena is still really tough to do. Still a huge SB hope.
PANTHERS: No Newton, no hope… not quite. Christian McCaffrey has been outrageously great and Kyle Allen has had moments of excellence. It’s unlikely they can push much harder than a wildcard shot.
AFC East: Patriots, North: Ravens, South: Texans, West: KC.
Wildcards: Bills, Raiders.
NFC East: Eagles, North: Packers, South: Saints, West: Seahawks.
Wildcards: Niners, Vikings.
Enjoy your football, everyone!