This weekend may have lacked the dramatic endings or snow of week 14, but it still had all the intrigue we’ve come to expect in the 2013 edition of the National Football League with no less than five of the top six seeds losing.
The Broncos dropped out of first place in the AFC with a shock home loss to the San Diego Chargers but then regained it after the Patriots failed to engineer one of their now patented fourth quarter comebacks against a resurgent Miami Dolphins last night.
The Bengals, who jumped to second thanks to New England’s loss — and holding the tie-breaker over the Pats — immediately slipped back to third in the division thanks, once again, to a divisional foe throwing a spanner in the works.
So while everything changed at the top of the AFC, nothing really changed at all as the top five seeds remain the top five seeds.
There were, however, some significant changes in the NFC though it remains impossible to see any team not named the Seattle Seahawks winning the conference once they secure home advantage throughout the playoffs.
The East remains almost certainly the worst division in football with all four teams losing, none more spectacularly than the Dallas Cowboys who literally threw away a 23 point half-time lead by deciding not to continue handing DeMarco Murray the football. Instead, the Dallas coaching staff put their faith in Tony Romo’s arm in a move that made leaving Jamaal Charles on the bench in your fantasy match-up last night look smart.
Despite their short-comings, a win against Washington next week sets up a one-game win-and-they’re-in encounter the Eagles in week 17 with the winner getting the opportunity of being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
Nobody appears ready to want to win the North either with three teams now separated by just half a game which makes Detroit’s road trip to Baltimore so important tonight. If the Packers win out and the Lions don’t, the division is Green Bay’s which would be some accomplishments considering just how long Aaron Rodgers has been on the sidelines for. If the cheeseheads do make the playoffs, I can’t imagine too many teams being happy to face them.
The 49ers should win out and claim the fifth seed in the NFC as the Panthers and Saints meet again next week to almost certainly decide the faith of the NFC South. The loser of that game will drop all the way from second seed to sixth so rarely has there been so much on the line in one game.
Even 15 weeks in, I can’t get my head around whether or not this is a vintage NFL season or a terrible one, whether it’s so bad it’s good or so good it’s bad but it remains enthralling. With just two weeks to go in the regular season, there’s still a huge amount to be decided but I’m still convinced we’ll see a Patriots/Seahawks Super Bowl next February.