It’s week 16 of the NFL, and the regular season ending and is making way for Super Bowl XLVI. This past NFL season was a great season as we saw Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers storm the league going undefeated at 13 games before eventually losing to the Kansas City Chiefs. We saw heroic comebacks from the unorthodox quarterback of Tim Tebow as he led his Denver Broncos to a six-game winning streak, which came to an end by the hands of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.With the NFL Playoffs rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at the teams that clinched playoff berths so far. Here are the teams that have clinched their spot in the playoffs:
Now let’s discuss each team.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are currently sitting comfortably at the top seed of the NFL and clinched their spot in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a monstrous season, going undefeated the first 13 games. Their hopes of an undefeated season came short when they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 14-19. As the reigning Super Bowl Champs, the Packers hope to achieve the rarity of winning it all back to back. Only seven teams has ever achieved this feat.
The Packers biggest strength is an offense that believes in passing the ball to everyone. Aaron Rodgers has a great cast of receivers who are ready to make plays and great catches. Rodgers has thrown the ball to really good receivers in Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings, and he’s even made rookie, Randall Cobb, the talk of the league.
The biggest weakness of the Packers is their defense, especially against other good quarterbacks. Against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, the Packers allowed them to score 34 points and gave up 396 passing yards. They played a close game against the New York Giants and escaped with a victory and won by a field goal at 38-35. If the Packers are looking to repeat, their defense will need to step up.
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New England Patriots
Image via Flickr user: Keith Allison
Tomy Brady and the New England Patriots started a dynasty with the franchise’s first Super Bowl win in 2001. Brady was only in his second year then, and was named Super Bowl MVP. He went on to help the Patriots win two more Super Bowls, which were back-to-back, and solidified himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. This season looks to be nothing less than great for the Patriots.
The Patriots have excellent tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and a great receiver in Wes Welker. With Welker catching everything that Tom Brady passes to him, the Patriots have become an unstoppable passing team.
The Patriots primary weakness is their defense. They are dead last in the league in averaging yards given up allowing the opposition to gain 414.4 yards per game and letting their opponents convert third downs at an average of 5.8 per game. The Patriots defense will need to step up and stop good quarterbacks, especially if they’re going to meet Rodgers and the Packers at the Super Bowl.
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New Orleans Saints
Image via Flickr user: modenadude
The New Orleans Saints clinched their playoff berth as one of the most high-powered offensive teams in the NFL. Led by quarterback, Drew Brees, the Saints look to repeat what they did in 2009 at Super Bowl XLIV when they shocked the world and defeated a heavily-favored Indianapolis Colts, led by Peyton Manning, for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
As of week 16, the New Orleans Saints are the most efficient passing team in the NFL. Drew Brees passed the ball for a total of 4,780 yards and is super efficient in completing those passes at an amazing 71.5%.
The Saints have allowed too many pass completions per game. They are towards the bottoms of the ranking in allowing completions averaging 21.9 per game. If the Saints were to meet the Packers or the Patriots in the postseason, they would need to put pressure on their opponent’s passing.
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San Francisco 49ers
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Coach Jim Harbaugh and the San Fransisco 49ers surprised the whole league as they are heading to the playoffs with an 11-3 record. The 49ers has not had a winning season since 2002 and that was the last time they’ve seen playoff action.
The 49ers are a great defensive team. They are first in almost every category of rushing defense and has not allowed an opponent gain any rush touchdown ever. The 49ers do not allow their opponents make any rushing plays at all.
The 49ers has a questionable o-line. Their quarterback, Alex Smith, got sacked 39 times this season and they will need to protect their quarterback more if they’re going to meet powerful-defensive teams in the post season.
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The Baltimore Ravens clinched a playoff spot when the Tennessee Titans lost to the Indianapolis Colts and when the Detroit Lions defeated to the Oakland Raiders. This will be the Ravens’ fourth straight playoff appearance. The Ravens also have a great running back in Ray Rice running the ball for them.
Hard-nosed defense. The Ravens are third in the league in allowing yards per game. This defense would be vital for the Ravens if they are going to meet teams with great quarterbacks like the Patriots, Packers, or the Saints in the post season.
The Ravens doesn’t have the best offense in the league, nor do they have the worse. They would need Joe Flacco to step up a bit more and score if they want to compete with the high-powered offensive teams in the league.
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Who would have known that the Houston Texans would be apart of playoff conversation? After coming into the league in 2002, the Texans clinched their first playoff berth in franchise history. This Texan team believes they’re good and is a team to watch out for.
The Texans are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They play fast, they hit hard, and they have excellent coverage on receivers. They have proved to the rest of the league that they are a defensive team that you can’t take lightly.
Their quarterback, Matt Schaub suffered a foot injury in week 10 and third string quarterback T.J. Yates has started in place of Schaub. It’s hardly probable that a rookie quarterback can lead the Texans through the playoffs.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NFL. They have made playoff appearances virtually every year this past decade and has solidified themselves as one of the best teams in the NFL. Known for their defense, the Steelers are a nightmare for other offenses.
The Steelers are the best defensive team in the league today. They’re leading the league in allowing yards per game and they rarely make mistakes on the defensive end. The Steelers do a good job in pressuring passers and limit their passing yards.
With QB Ben Roethlisberger’s recent injury, people will be questioning how the team’s offense will perform come playoffs. The Steelers already have trouble playing against other elite teams. In their first game with the Ravens, they were kept down at one touchdown and intercepted the ball three times. When Big Ben was playing against San Francisco, the 49ers defense kept the Steelers quarterback scoreless with three interceptions. With Big Ben’s injury, the Steelers will have trouble scoring.
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Super Bowl XLVI Match-Up Prediction
Image via Flickr user: Matt McGee
Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots
This is a dream match up for many. Two of the greatest quarterbacks in their prime going at it. Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. That’s what the world wants to see and that’s what we want to see.
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