SportsPulse: We have factual two weeks left in the routine season and there might well be nonetheless so noteworthy up for grabs. Lorenzo Reyes reacts to the excellent from Week 15.

With two weeks left in the NFL’s routine season, eight of the 12 playoff spots were clinched.

Extra jockeying for seeding will happen in Weeks 16 and 17, and 4 spots live up for grabs. But the portray is coming into survey now that we know that the NFC bracket will characteristic the Seattle Seahawks, Inexperienced Bay Packers, Unusual Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, whereas the AFC self-discipline will encompass the Baltimore Ravens, Unusual England Patriots, Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and Buffalo Funds.

As the reshuffling of seeding and seesaw battles of some divisional leads have mirrored, this  lope is wide originate. Obvious, the excellence of the league’s elite squads is graceful clear. Nonetheless, it’s laborious to pinpoint the clear-reduce current in either conference.

Every of these eight playoff locks can have legit arguments for why they’ll elevate all of it. Nonetheless, it’s additionally evident why any of those eight can also falter.

Here’s a gape at the explanations to judge and dread about each and every playoff-sure squad.


Seahawks Imagine in them because they’ve Russell Wilson, whose wizardry presents them an opportunity in opposition to any defense. His offense has the backing of a hungry defense that substances an very perfect blend of journey and childhood. Dread about them, nonetheless, because accidents have diminished the effectiveness of the defense, which locations extra rigidity on the offense. For as sizable as Wilson is, at instances, his solid of playmakers ticket their childhood-essentially based mostly limitations. If an opponent can organize to set up Wilson in take a look at, there’s no person capable of bailing him out.

Packers Imagine because Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers have gotten in sync, and the principle-year head coach does a sizable job of scripting an attack that highlights what the  quarterback does excellent. Improved successfully being at the skill positions has this offense again clicking after some midseason snags. Dread about them because even if their defense can salvage after quarterbacks, the unit is guilty of inconsistencies that give opponents chances. Against upper-echelon groups, Inexperienced Bay has had blended outcomes.

Saints Imagine because Drew Brees and Sean Payton unfriendly amongst the excellent quarterback-coach tandems available in the market. Michael Thomas is the excellent receiver in the game, and this worn roster is battle-tested. Dread about them because at instances, it feels as if their talented defense forgets to display up and presents up so many yards and substances that rigidity mounts on the offense. At instances, Alvin Kamara has sputtered, and Brees has handiest 13 landing passes for the length of the crimson zone and handiest eight for the length of the 10, which both unfriendly amongst the worst for starting quarterbacks.

49ers Imagine because they’ve regarded as one of many excellent defenses in football. They’re aggressive, opportunistic and stop a sizable job of limiting opponents, no subject the form of play. San Francisco’s offense additionally substances sizable steadiness. Tight stop George Kittle is additionally regarded as one of many league’s most unstoppable forces. Dread, nonetheless, because even if he has played successfully in the 2d half of the season, questions live about Jimmy Garoppolo’s consistency. In the occasion that they’ve to play from at the relieve of, it’s a toss-up on whether or no longer he can elevate his workforce.


Ravens Imagine because they’re led by the most electrifying player in the game in Lamar Jackson, who factual space a brand contemporary single-season speeding story (1,109 yards) for quarterbacks. He additionally has recorded 22 landing passes for the length of the 20 (tied with Wilson for first) and a league-excellent 16 for the length of the 10. And their defense, which substances both talented veterans and inexperienced persons alike, presents opponents fits as successfully. Dread about Jackson’s small journey in the postseason. It’s laborious to instruct how he’ll stop once he faces a workforce fancy the Patriots for a 2d time. If some workforce can have him in the pocket, can he elevate games alongside with his arm?

Patriots Imagine because, hello, it’s Tom Brady and Invoice Belichick. They’ve been here over and over, and as well they’ve over and over proven us that its foolish to wager in opposition to them. Unusual England additionally boasts the excellent defense, and because the broken-down adage says, “offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” Dread because no subject his greatness, Brady and his unit don’t have any longer looked perfect in the 2d half of the season. Current target Julian Edelman has battled accidents and appears to be like fancy a shell of himself. The the leisure of Brady’s wideouts are younger and inconsistent, and the Pats aren’t working the ball as successfully as they did a year ago. Also dread about how this defense will graceful in opposition to a sizable athletic quarterback fancy Jackson or Patrick Mahomes, who beat Unusual England in the routine season.

Chiefs Imagine because after a midseason funk that coincided with Mahomes’ accidents, the Chiefs appear to have regained their inch at the graceful time. Mahomes has rekindled his connection with Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce remains the excellent tight stop in the AFC. A defense that underperformed for a ways of the year has without note looked to prefer things out attributable to improved successfully being and opulent in contemporary coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system. Dread because that offensive line nonetheless isn’t sizable, and if groups can salvage to Mahomes, this offense goes south. It’s additionally laborious to instruct whether or no longer this defensive success is sustainable or if the Chiefs’ struggles in opposition to the lope will gash relieve up at the most inopportune time.

Funds – Imagine because they’re a gritty workforce paced by an aggressive defense and a fearless, younger quarterback. The Funds perfectly embody the mentality of coach Sean McDermott. Their defense, which has given up the 2d-fewest substances (15.9 per sport) in the league, continually appears to be like to present this workforce an opportunity, and the lope-first offense made trusty strides as Josh Allen has change into extra overjoyed in Year 2. Dread because even if they’ve a trusty lope sport, Buffalo’s offense doesn’t light up the scoreboard, averaging factual 20.8 substances per sport. Allen has energized his teammates alongside with his willingness to purchase up anxious yards alongside with his legs, but he’s averaging factual 6.7 yards per rush are trying and owns a quarterback score of 84.6, which is 24th in the league. If asked to compare blows with a high-scoring opponent, Buffalo will most likely be sunk.

Notice USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and hearken to the Soccer Jones podcast on iTunes.


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