We made it. Three-quarters of the NFL season is officially under wraps, and it feels like just yesterday we were all just drafting our fantasy football teams. The playoffs are within our grasp, but it’s important to remember that there is still a lot of football left to be played before we reach that destination.

For a select few, the path to a playoff berth is a smoothly paved road. As for the remaining teams still in the hunt, the journey ahead can be a magnitude of bumps, detours, and dead ends.

There are many variables that will build what type of road certain teams must walk before entering the gates of the post-season. There are only three games remaining, and everyone is focused on one thing right now: who will make it into the 2017 Nfl Playoffs?

No days off in the north

The AFC is a little easier to discuss when it comes to the playoffs because once again it seems to be very top heavy when it comes to who’s more talented.

The New England Patriots have their easy shoe-in once again by dominating their division. Granted this is a weaker Patriots team than we’ve seen in a very long time, it still doesn’t change facts that they’re still a Super Bowl contender in the AFC. Tom Brady, for the most part, is still proving why he’s the best of the best.

The 40-year-old QB is leading the league in passing yards even despite the key injuries that have plagued the Patriots this year.

Losing to teams such as Kansas City and the Miami Dolphins are making people question Tom Brady’s longevity when going into the playoffs. New England may have won the Super Bowl last year, but keep in mind that Brady also played five fewer games than everyone else (including the playoffs). Don’t discredit the Brady and Belichick duo just because they had one bad game in Miami this year. Statistically, Tom Brady has always had trouble in Miami in December.

The only other interesting team in the AFC East are the Buffalo Bills, only to see if they will finally break their playoff drought. Buffalo’s capabilities have stemmed from very high peaks and low valleys. The remainder of the season has only divisional rivals left for them, and even if they win out all their games, a 10-6 record may not be good enough to make it as a wildcard team.

Southern fixings

The AFC South ended up being a graveyard of potential with two of their teams.

Andrew Luck being injured for the season has made the Indianapolis Colts a very exposed team. The Houston Texans were the most electrifying team in the AFC until Deshaun Watson also landed a seat on IR. That left the division wide open for the Jacksonville Jaguars to take for themselves. The Jags have the best defense in the AFC, if not the entire NFL, and are making a big statement for themselves by running away with the division.

The old adage is ‘defense wins championships’ and if that’s true then Jacksonville will be a major threat for the playoffs.

The Tennessee Titans have been fully loaded with talent this year as well. They have a very high chance of snagging themselves a wild-card slot. Unfortunately exactly how far they can make it in the playoffs this season is left to be desired. Tennessee might be one year away from being the dominant team that they want to be. The same thing can be said for Houston and Indianapolis after having a healthy roster in the 2018 season. Anyone who is an avid NFL fan should watch out for the AFC South next year because it is going to be outrageously competitive.

The mild, mild, west

There are so many questions that are to be had when it comes to the AFC West this year. The division that was believed to be the strongest among the entire NFL has come up extremely short in its prophecy. What happened to the Denver Broncos? Why can’t they figure out their quarterback situation? What happened to their championship defense? Or better yet, what happened to Kansas City? Remember when they were 5-0 and people were nominating Alex Smith as MVP? When did Kareem Hunt completely disappear as a potential threat to his opponents? Why did the Oakland Raiders revert back to playing like the Oakland Raiders before acquiring Derek Carr?

How are the Los Angeles Chargers looking like the best team in that division right now? Actually, that question is the easiest to answer. After starting the season 0-4, the Chargers have shown their true colors in L.A. and gone on a 7-2 rally. They are by far the most interesting team to watch in the west, and quite possibly the most interesting team in the entire AFC at the moment.

While their rally to get seven wins was a good foot forward to the playoffs, their two losses did come from the Patriots and Jacksonville -- two teams they most likely will meet again come post-season. Winning out the last three games of the season should lock them in as the best team in the division. If they can manage that, it could change the storyline of potentially having two teams from Los Angeles making the playoffs this year.

The northern invasion

Just like the New England Patriots in the east, the AFC North has dominated by the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past two decades. The same old story can be said again this year, which doesn’t come to any surprise with the weapons that the Steelers possess in their arsenal. Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown carry the offense as The Three B’s, but this year they could add a fourth B-name to that list with Chris Boswell.

Pittsburgh has given themselves a good security blanket on winning the division by defeating the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field in week 14. The Ravens have been playing very well down the final stretch of the season. Although they may not take the glory of being divisional champs, Baltimore should still be able to secure a wild-card spot this year.

Damaged wings

Just saying the name Philadelphia Eagles should send shivers down people’s spine this year. They have ruled the NFC East with an MVP candidate quarterback, a strong running committee, a smart head coach, and a solid defense. Seriously, the Eagles have shown such minimal weakness that it’s no surprise they claim the glory of number one seed this year.

Everything looked like it should have been smooth sailing all the way to the Super Bowl until Carson Wentz tore his ACL versus the Los Angeles Rams. Philly still ended up winning that Clash of the Titans style match-up but at the expense of losing arguably the best quarterback in the NFL this year. Nick Foles is no stranger to Philadelphia, and he didn’t play all that bad when he filled in for Wentz. He has what it takes to still maintain their number one seed, but it changes the entire atmosphere going into the playoffs.

The only other team in the NFC East that could be taken somewhat seriously is the Dallas Cowboys. America’s Team seems to be forgotten ever since Ezekiel Elliott had his suspension upheld. To make matters worse, even if the Cowboys win out the rest of the year, they most likely will still fall short of making the playoffs.

Three’s a crowd

If you were to take any team from the NFC South and decided to rank them on what was most surprising this season, which one would you pick? A top candidate would be the New Orleans Saints, who after going 0-2 to start the year, has adapted themselves as a top threat in the NFC this year with the help of Drew Brees and rookie RB Alvin Kamara.

The pieces were always there offensively for the Saints, but now they have finally figured out a good defense to stop their opponents in crucial situations. Or how about the Carolina Panthers this year? A team who has the same record as New Orleans, only to be classified as ‘underdogs’ due to being separated by a tiebreaker among the division. These two teams are guaranteed to make the playoffs, and the Atlanta Falcons are trying to cruise in as a third wheel for the playoff party. Even after last year’s Super Bowl disappointment, Atlanta has played well enough to catch a glimpse of making the playoffs. That is, as long as someone else doesn’t ruin their plans.

Return of the king

The NFC North will have a new ruler at the throne this year. The Minnesota Vikings have grown into a very respectable team in the NFL with their fast-paced defense. Mike Zimmer has been accepted openly in Minnesota for turning their franchise into the biggest threat since Randy Moss was on the roster.

Even when starting quarterback Sam Bradford went down on injury they still had Case Keenum who has stepped up to the task. It also helps that the Vikings receiving core might be the most underrated in the NFL, even with Adam Thielen staying on pace in receiving yards with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones.

Winning the north division was a breeze for Minnesota this year, and teams will struggle against their mighty defense when it comes to the playoffs. The Vikings can’t sit too comfortably on their new throne though because a familiar face has emerged from the shadows to throw a wrench in the NFC’s dynamic.

That’s right, it’s official. Aaron Rodgers has been cleared to play the remainder of the season. Although the ‘King of the North’ doesn’t have a chance to reclaim his official title this year, he does have a shot at making the playoffs. It’s a long shot though, calculated at a seven percent chance on landing a wild-card slot. Despite all odds, there will always be a good chance for the Packers as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center. Rodgers and the Pack have famously run the table once before, and the two time MVP quarterback has shown us previously he plays better with a chip on his shoulder.

The entire NFC should hope that the Packers don’t make the playoffs this year. Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have seen the NFC Championship three times in their tenure together, and there shouldn’t be any doubt that they would upset a lot of teams if they defy all the odds and still make it in.

The west side story

Staying true to the west-coast offense schematic, the Los Angeles Rams have scored the most points in the entire NFL. The common theme for the Rams this year is youth. A young running back, a younger quarterback, a young receiving core, and most importantly, the youngest head coach in NFL history.

Sean McVay has done a tremendous job cleaning up Jeff Fisher’s mess and creating success from the rubble that was left behind in St. Louis. That description alone should be good enough evidence on making McVay potential coach of the year -- especially because his age has turned heads across the football world. Among the endless praises that can be received for this newly formed L.A. team, there is no guarantee to be the divisional winner this year. The Seattle Seahawks are knocking on McVay’s glory, and it will all come down to one game to determine who takes over the NFC West.

Seattle has a lot weighed against them this year. Their offensive line is weak, the running game is non-existent, and the defense is severely beaten up. Even during all their struggles, there is still one factor that remains on giving the Seahawks a good fighting chance of winning their division. Russell Wilson’s quarterback play in the second half of the season is beyond comparison from anyone else in the NFL.

Wilson will single-handedly carry the entire team on his back to force a playoff berth for Seattle. His back will have to be sturdy going up against the Rams to determine the tie-breaker on who wins the NFC West this year. It should be the game that will determine who will guarantee a spot in the playoffs, and the other will be competing with the NFC North and South on whether they can make the wild card round.

The roads have been built. Seeds are patiently waiting to be filled with particular teams in mind. The only question will be who can achieve the goals attainable for them. The AFC may have their teams already locked in, but the NFC has a lot to withstand for the journey to Super Bowl LII. Prepare yourselves during the remainder of the season, because some of the best football has yet to be played.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more