Ranking Cities Sports Title Droughts

It has been a wild couple of years in sports in terms of ending title droughts. In 2016, Cleveland won its first championship in any sport in over half a century and the Chicago Cubs broke a 108-year curse by winning the World Series. In 2017, the Houston Astros won their first ever World Series title. 2018 has already seen the Philadelphia Eagles win a long-awaited championship and the Washington Capitals finally bring home the Stanley Cup. Some of the most historic title droughts in all of sports have ended in recent years, begging the question of which cities remain the most tortured for a title. Here is my top ten.

10. Detroit
Teams: Lions (NFL), Pistons (NBA), Red Wings (NHL), Tigers (MLB),
Last title: 2008

It has only been a decade since a Detroit team has won a title, but the history of sports success in the Motor City is not a great one. The Lions have famously (or infamously) never won a Super Bowl, or even appeared in one. They also hold the NFL record for most consecutive playoff losses. Baseball is a little more promising because the Tigers have won before, three times actually, but the last World Series victory came in 1984. The Pistons have had some great teams, but have also been one of the worst run NBA franchises in the last ten years. In the NHL, the Red Wings represent the true bright spot. Detroit has hoisted the Stanley Cup twice since the turn of the century. It hasn’t been that long for Detroit, but it might be a while before one of these four teams wins another title.

9. Indianapolis
Teams: Colts (NFL), Pacers (NBA)
Last title: 2006

Only two teams reside in Indianapolis and the Colts have won a title. The Peyton Manning era is still one fans could look back on proudly, but for a long time the Colts were one of the most tortured franchises in the NFL. They have resumed that post since then. For a city as crazy about basketball as Indy, zero NBA titles is a real bummer as well. The Pacers have only reached the NBA finals once in franchise history losing to the Shaq and Kobe Lakers. Both the Colts and Pacers have been competitive in recent years as well, but always end up faltering in the playoffs, leaving a bitter taste in fans’ mouths.

8. Charlotte
Teams: Hurricanes (NHL), Hornets (NBA), Panthers (NFL)
Last title: 2006

It has also been 12 years since Charlotte has won a title, but they get the edge for having three teams as opposed to Indy’s two. The Hornets have been one of the worst franchises in NBA history. It has been 30 years since the Hornets were founded and the team has never so much as won a division title. Football has treated fans a little better, as the Panthers did reach the Super Bowl back in 2003. They came agonizingly close to beating that Brady guy, but Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winner as time expired to beat Carolina. The Hurricanes are the only team in Charlotte to win a title. After losing in the 2002 Stanley Cup final, Carolina broke through in 2006 to lift the cup. Still, just one title between three teams over the past 30 years is a poor return.

7. Nashville
Teams: Predators (NHL), Titans (NFL)
Last title: N/A

If you also lump in the Memphis Grizzles, the Tennessee would likely move up a few spots on this list. Seeing as Memphis and Nashville are on opposite sides of the state though, it did not seem too fair. Both teams moved to town in 1997, but the Predators came close to bringing home a title in 2017. On the other hand, the Titans made the playoffs in 2017 for the first time in nearly ten years. What holds Nashville back is how new of a sports city it is. It has only had pro teams for 20 years, so the lack of a title is not totally shocking. Only one appearance in a finals setting is more than enough to qualify for this list though.

6. Cincinnati
Teams: Bengals (NFL), Reds (MLB)
Last title: 1990

Oh, where to begin with Cincinnati. For one, the Bengals have been a punch line in the NFL for quite some time. Head coach Marvin Lewis took over in 2003 and has taken the team to the playoffs seven times in his tenure. He is also 0-7 in the postseason. It has been 27 years since Cincy has won a playoff game, the longest active streak in the league. The Bengals weren’t always this way though. In the ’80s, Cincinnati made it to two Super Bowls, both times losing by less than a touchdown to the Joe Montana led 49ers. The Reds haven’t been a whole lot better. Since winning the World Series in 1990, Cincy’s baseball team has only made the playoffs four times. With the Bengals looking like an average team and the Reds in the middle of a rebuild, it could be a while before Cincinnati celebrates another championship.

5. San Diego
Teams: Padres (MLB), Chargers (NFL)
Last title: N/A

Technically, there is only one pro team still in San Deigo, but to not include the struggles of the Chargers in evaluating the drought this city has gone through would be unfair. I actually think the fact the Chargers left makes life as a fan in this city even more torturous. Boasting one of the greatest offenses in NFL history, San Diego never managed to reach a Super Bowl. Its lone appearance was a blowout loss to the 49ers in 1994. Even during the early 2000s, it seemed like the Chargers would finally break through, but never managed to reach the Super Bowl. For the Padres, opportunities for postseason success have been few and far between. In 49 years as a franchise, the Padres have made the playoffs just five times, including two different losses in the World Series. San Diego has long awaited a title and now will have an even tougher time securing one with only the Padres left in town.

4. Phoenix
Teams: Cardinals (NFL), Coyotes (NHL), Diamondbacks (MLB), Suns (NBA)
Last title: 2001

It has been 17 years since the largest city in Arizona brought home a sports championship. The Cardinals came agonizingly close in 2009 before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild Super Bowl. The Suns haven’t been good in years, but still remember the days of Charles Barkley and Steve Nash fondly. Neither of the ever managed to bring home a title. The Coyotes have never made it to a Stanley Cup final, much less won one. That leaves the Diamondbacks, who won the cities last championship in 2001. It is the only title in the city’s history. The Cardinals won an NFL Championship in 1947, but that was actually while the team was located in Chicago. Only one title between four teams is tough for fans to swallow and it does not seem like any of them are close to a title for a least a few more years.

3. Atlanta
Teams: Hawks (NBA), Falcons (NFL), Braves (MLB),
Last title: 1995

Between the Hawks, Falcons and Braves, Atlanta has only brought home one title in the history of sports in the city. The Braves broke through in 1995, which isn’t really that long ago, but this city definitely knows what it is like to want a title. The Hawks have never made it to the NBA Finals while in Atlanta. The 2016 Falcons made it to the Super Bowl and blew the largest lead in the history of the game. It marked the second time the Falcons lost in the championship. Looking at the Braves, they lost four other World Series during the ’90s. Had it not been for that World Series in ’95, Atlanta might very well top this list.

2. Buffalo
Teams: Bills (NFL), Sabres (NHL)
Last title: N/A

Western New York is home to one of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports. The aptly named “Bills Mafia” provides a fun home field advantage whenever the Bills are hosting. Sabres fans have suffered through many years of woeful play on the ice, but still support the team nonetheless. Between these two franchises, Buffalo has appeared in six different championships, winning none of them. The Bills came up short in four consecutive Super Bowls! Talk about torture for fans. The Sabres made two different runs to the Stanley Cup final over the years, but fell short in both. It was the NHL team who made Buffalo’s last championship appearance in 1999. Up until last year, the Bills hadn’t even been to the playoffs since 1999. What holds Buffalo back from the top spot is the fact that the city only has two teams.

1. Minneapolis
Teams: Timberwolves (NBA), Twins (MLB), Wild (NHL), Vikings (NFL)
Last title: 1991

21 years ago was the last time a team from the Twin Cities won a title. Minneapolis is home to some of the most tortured fan bases in sports. On one hand, you have the Vikings. The Purple People Eaters lost four Super Bowls from 1969 to 1976. The Vikings have never made it back to the big game since their loss in ’76. It seemed like they would in 1998, with a historically good offense, only to lose in their first playoff game that year. Then there are the Timberwolves. Minnesota finally broke the second longest playoff drought in NBA history in 2018 after 13 years of failing to qualify. In a league where more than half the teams make it to the postseason, that is quite a feat. The Wild haven’t been in town long, but like the Timberwolves, have never even reached the finals. The Twins are the only team in town with a title, but have not returned to the World Series. While Minneapolis has won a title, none of the teams in the city have even reached the championship stage in the 27 years since. This city is starved for a title and well-deserving of the top spot on our list.

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Why Matthew Stafford doesn’t cut it

There is a lot of pressure when it comes to making the right choice with the first pick in the NFL draft. We have seen our fair share of Hall of Famers, (Peyton Manning, John Elway, Lee Roy Selmon, Earl Campbell) and we’ve seen some hilarious busts (JaMarcus Russell, Courtney Brown, Ricky Bell, Ki-Jana Carter). It really can be hit or miss sometimes.

Matt_Stafford_2009_croppedMatthew Stafford is one of those first overall picks, from the 2009 edition of the draft. Stafford is by no means a bust. He has put up 21,000 yards and 131 touchdowns in his career. However, Stafford really doesn’t cut it for me. He is not number one overall material in terms of what his value turned out to be. He has been an average NFL quarterback, nothing more nothing less.

There are a lot of reasons I’m not too high on Stafford as a starting NFL quarterback. It starts with his over-inflated passing stats. Stafford consistently throws for 4,500 yards in a season, including over 5,000 in 2011. Those numbers look great but Stafford also throws an enormous amount of passes. His career average yards per attempt sits at 7.01. Stafford has never ranked in the top ten for yards per attempt in a single season. He came close in 2012 finishing 11th. He has finished twice outside the top 20 though, including this past season. Among active starters, Stafford is tied with Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton for yards per attempt in their career at 15th. That is underwhelming for sure. That isn’t all on Stafford because his receivers are responsible for picking up yards after the catch as well. However, part of the explanation comes in the next fault in his game.

Matthew_Stafford_(cropped)59.6 percent. That is Stafford’s career completion percentage. His receivers cannot pick up yards for him if Stafford cannot get them the ball. That number ranks Stafford 19th among active quarterbacks. That is below what would even be considered average. Stafford has only managed to rise above 60 percent twice in his four full years as the starter. This stat can be a little misleading because drops and throwaways can play a roll in driving a quarterback’s completion percentage down. Keep in mind though that Stafford doesn’t really need to be totally accurate when throwing to Calvin Johnson due to his insane catch radius. I think that balances any other factors.

You would think too that with guys like Johnson and nowadays Golden Tate at his disposal, Stafford would have a ridiculous number of touchdowns. Over the last four years, Stafford has tossed on average 28 touchdowns per year, which is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, when you look at the last three seasons though, ignoring his 41 touchdown anomaly in 2011, that number drops to 23.7. That second number is a lot more middle of the pack. Over the past three years as well, Stafford has been all up and down, finishing t-20th, 6th and 14th in touchdown passes. That range brings us to the next point.

Matthew_Stafford_2014Stafford lacks consistency, which is something teams desperately crave in a quarterback. Looking at this past year, Stafford toss multiple touchdowns in half of his games. At the same time, he also had four games where he failed to throw a touchdown pass. He also had five games where he threw for 300+ yards. That was juxtaposed to the three games though where Stafford failed to top 185 yards. And while you should dominate bad teams, none of Stafford’s 300+ yard days where against teams that finished in the top half of the league in pass defense and three of the teams were among the bottom five.

All quarterbacks should beat up on bad teams. However, good quarterbacks need to performance against good teams as well. That is something Stafford has really struggled with. Against teams that finish the season with a winning record, Stafford is a mediocre 3-24 in the last four years. That is downright pathetic. And this has to fall mostly on Stafford’s shoulders if he really wants to be an elite quarterback. He can’t blame a sub par defense or a shoddy running game. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers won Super Bowls with average defenses and mostly non-existent running games. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Stafford has zero playoff wins, one Pro Bowl selection (after four other quarterbacks dropped out) and is still riding the one year where he put up Pro Bowl caliber numbers, and still failed to make it. And if all of this has failed to convince you that Stafford is simply an average quarterback, maybe this will. ESPN uses the statistic Total QBR to measure a quarterback’s overall contribution to a game and weights the performance based on the number of plays and the scenario in which certain events occur. It is measured on a scale of 1-100 with 50 being average. In his six total NFL seasons, Stafford has finished each year with a rating below 61, including this season when he posted a 53.5. That was worse than Jay Cutler rated. The same guy who was benched toward the end of the season due to his poor play.

Plain and simple, he just isn’t that good. The Lions are never winning a Super Bowl with Stafford under center. He does not step up in big games and displays incredible inconsistency. He might have a few dazzling games here or there but on the whole, he is a largely average quarterback who has a durable enough arm to throw the ball 600 times a season. On the whole, Stafford just doesn’t cut it.

NFL Divisional round predictions

The Wildcard round featured storied rivalries and entertaining finishes. This weekend though gives us some of the best storylines of the season. We will see Tom Brady face off with the team that has given him so much trouble in the playoffs when Joe Flacco and the Ravens come to town. Two quarterbacks who have greatly changed how the position is viewed will share the field in Seattle when Russell Wilson’s Seahawks host Cam Newton’s Panthers. Two MVP candidates square off as a hobbled Aaron Rodgers takes on Tony Romo’s Cowboys at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The best though is the showdown in Denver between golden boy quarterbacks of present and future. Andrew Luck battles the man he replaced in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning, when the Broncos match up with the Colts. This is Manning’s first playoff game ever against the franchise that drafted him in 1998. Now it is time to break down these divisional round games and tell you who will be advancing to the conference championship.

I will start in New England with the Patriots and Ravens will play for the second time in three years in the playoffs. The last time these two teams met, the Pats lost in Foxboro as Baltimore continued its run to the Super Bowl. This time around will be very different though. This New England defense resembles nothing that it did two years ago. There are a couple of holdovers but the biggest additions include corners Brandon Browner and Darelle Revis. Those two alone allow Bill Belichick to pressure the quarterback without safety help for his corners. Joe Flacco has been on a quite a run of late in the playoffs but it will end in Foxboro. Belichick will be sending pressure Flacco’s way all game long and he will emphasize shutting down the Ravens rushing attack as Pittsburgh did a week ago. I think Brady will exorcise some demons and key on a Baltimore secondary that struggled throughout the regular season. Look for Tim Wright and Rob Gronkowski to have big games. The Ravens are a talented enough team to keep the game close but I think New England will pull away late and win 27-14.

Flipping to the NFC now, many are calling this a mirror image game. Seattle and Carolina play very similar styles of football relying heavily on the defense to make plays and the offense to kill the clock with an explosive running game. At the helm, both squads have talented, mobile quarterbacks, who can give defensive coordinators nightmares when trying to game plan against them. The Panthers have been on a hot streak entering the playoffs and continued it last week with a commanding win over Arizona. The score was closer than the game ever seemed. Seattle had the week off and should be ready for the former Heisman winner. Saturday’s game will be very scrappy and I expect some turnovers. Seattle had the best defense in the league and Carolina’s was no slouch either ranking tenth. The first half will be a lot shifting momentum with both teams exchanging field goals. The Panthers might be the underdog but this team came close to upending Seattle earlier this season. This game will go down to the wire and I think in the end Russell Wilson’s ability to make plays outside the pocket will be too much for Carolina to handle. In this defensive battle will be low scoring and finish 19-13, Seahawks on top. When all is said and done, Seattle should be set to host its second straight NFC Championship game.

Dallas will travel north to take on Green Bay in the other NFC divisional round game to travels to Seattle. This should be an exciting game to watch. The Cowboys will need to start fast in this one if they have any hopes of surviving until the next round. They fell behind early and were lucky to escape with a win over Detroit. This game could be much easier for Dallas though than was initially thought if Aaron Rodgers is truly not at 100% with a serious calf injury. However, Rodgers was clearly hobbled in his game against Detroit two weeks ago and still led the Packers to a victory. Yet, the key to this game will be the Packers’ defensive front. The Lions laid out the blueprint to beat the Cowboys last week getting after Tony Romo and limiting Demarco Murray’s ability to break long runs. Romo was sacked six times, Murray averaged less than four yards per carry and it was clear Dallas struggled. I think Green Bay will come out with a plan early to get after Romo. Meanwhile, Dallas’ defense ranked in the bottom quarter of the league for passing yards allowed. I think Rodgers gets the Packers out to an early lead that the Cowboys, as good as they can be, are unable to overcome. Green Bay wins 34-28.

The last game pits two quarterbacks desperate for a playoff win. Peyton Manning’s career is winding down and his critics have always pointed out Manning’s struggles in the playoffs. On the other hand, Andrew Luck has burst onto the scene and has be called a great quarterback but the doubters still have yet to see Luck take his team past the divisional round of the playoffs. When the Colts visit the Broncos, we should see two offenses heading in completely different directions. Indy has struggled running the ball all year and Denver’s defense ranked second during the regular season for rushing yards allowed. This game will fall squarely on the shoulders of the former Stanford quarterback if Indianapolis is going to stand a chance in this game. Luck has the ability to put up incredible numbers but he has also been turnover prone of late. He will need to play mistake free to give the Colts a chance. For Denver though, this game will be about running the football. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase completely restructured Denver’s offense down the stretch this season to rely heavily on the running game, taking the weight off Manning. The Broncos will want to keep the ball out of Luck’s hands as much as possible and simply wear the Colts defense out with C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. This approach should make also negate the Colts pass rush, which registered an impressive 41 sacks this season. This should be an interesting game but in the end, I think the quarterback of the present holds off the quarterback of the future. Broncos win 31-21.

So my prediction is that we will see the Packers travel to Seattle and another round of Brady versus Manning in the conference championship. Let me know if you think I completely overlooked something or you have a different idea of how next weekend will look. Keep an eye for next week’s predictions as well. Enjoy all of these great matchups this weekend.

NFL Wildcard madness

The Wildcard round of the 2015 playoffs kicks off tomorrow meaning postseason professional football is back. Saturday’s games include the Cardinals versus the Panthers and the Steelers hosting the Ravens. Sunday features the Cowboys taking on the Lions and the Bengals visiting the Colts. The playoffs are unpredictable and can bring out the best in players. Nothing is a sure bet in the NFL, but I will do my best to predict who will win and who will go home.

I will start in Charlotte where the Panthers snuck into the playoffs with a losing record, only the second team ever to do so. That being said, Carolina is hot at the right time as the Panthers won four straight to make the postseason, which included a 34-3 thumping of division rival Atlanta to clinch the division. Arizona on the other hand, has limped into the postseason losing its last two games. The running game has stalled since Andre Ellington landed on injury reserve. The Cards are playing Ryan Lindley at quarterback as well having lost both Drew Stanton and Carson Palmer for the season. Bruce Arians still has the Cardinals alive though between creative play calling and an attacking defense that is capable of keeping Arizona in games, even when the offense sputters. This will be a defensive battle. Carolina caused three turnovers last week and should generate more at home against a shaky Lindley. I think the Panthers have too much momentum and Cam Newton can create just enough offense for Carolina to pull out the victory. Panthers win 24-14.

To the other NFC game, the Dallas Cowboys are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and this Cowboys team is definitely better suited to make a Super Bowl run. The Cowboys have one of the most versatile offenses in the NFL between Tony Romo, Demarco Murray and Dez Bryant. Dallas can beat you through the air or on the ground. Romo is having the best season of his career, as is Murray. These two will carry the Cowboys offense when it goes into battle with Detroit. The Lions’ defense has been one of the many surprises of this 2014 season. This unit finished second in total defense, third in scoring defense and tops in rush defense. Those are some elite numbers. The Lions front four grinds on offenses and generates hits on the quarterback. Eventually those start to take a toll. This game will rest more than anything else on Romo’s ability to improvise in the pocket and exploit Detroit’s secondary, which has only been average so far this year. Offensively, Matt Stafford and the Lions have looked out of sync. I do not expect too much from them, especially going on the road Stafford completion percentage on the road is thirteen percent worse than at home and his yards per attempt drops from 8.0 to 6.3. Detroit also has only one win against a .500 or better team this year. Look for Dallas to roll through a Detroit team still a year or two away from seriously contending. Cowboys win 31-17.

Switching over to the AFC, two young quarterbacks will duel in Indianapolis on Sunday when the Colts take on the Bengals. Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton lead their respective teams into a rematch of a Week 7 game. Indy won the regular season matchup between these two teams, blowing away Cincinnati 27-0. However, the Bengals ground attack has vastly improved since then with Jeremy Hill forming an excellent one-two punch with Giovani Bernard. The Bengals can wear down opposing defenses with its running game but this team’s playoff hopes still hinge on Dalton. Luck knows how to generate points and can get the Colts out to a lead in a hurry. If this game rely too heavily on Dalton’s arm, Cincy will lose. Dalton has never performed well in the playoffs and I do not see it starting now as a solid Colts’ pass rush and Vontae Davis roaming the secondary will cause him problems. For the Colts, Chuck Pagano has to be sure he gets Luck to avoid committing early mistakes. The former Stanford signal caller accounted for 28 turnovers this season. If Luck can hold on to the ball, this is Indy’s game to lose. Neither team is perfect but I trust Luck in the playoffs a lot more than I trust Dalton. I think the Colts win 34-21.

Every year, division rivals meet twice during the regular season, unless they matchup in the playoffs. Saturday night brings us one of the best division rivalries in league history as the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh for round 3. Pittsburgh will be without star running back LeVeon Bell meaning Ben Roethlisberger will have more pressure than ever to carry his team to victory. The toughest thing for the Steelers is how much Bell’s injury limits the play calling. Not only was Bell a top rusher, he was also an asset out of the backfield. Pittsburgh could have desperately used a bye week to get ready but Big Ben has shouldered the load before and he knows what is coming his way with a familiar foe. The Ravens are getting back to playing smash mouth football though which could make life difficult for Roethlisberger and company. Justin Forsett has been a revelation at tail back for Baltimore and taken a lot of pressure off Joe Flacco. The Ravens also have a potentially dynamic passing attack if the offense is firing on all cylinders. The Ravens defense finished tied for second this season in sacks with 49. Look for Baltimore to bring the house, as it knows Pittsburgh’s ground attack is weakened. This should be a great game but in the end, the Steelers’ other one-man show, Antonio Brown, should prove to be way too much for a reeling Ravens’ secondary. Steelers win round 3 by a score of 20-13.

NFC Playoff Scenarios

Week 17 in the NFL is approaching quickly and while the playoff picture is beginning to take shape, there is still a lot of shuffling around that can occur. I am going to take some time here to explain all of the scenarios and then tell you which I think is the most likely.

Here is what we already know: five of the six teams getting into the playoffs have been figured out. Seattle, Dallas, Arizona, Detroit and Green Bay have all earned playoff berths. That is about all that has been determined in the NFC. There is an incredible amount of moving around that can occur in the final week. Let’s start looking at some of the possibilities.

For Seattle, a win would mean home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Seahawks control their destiny and beating Saint Louis at home on Sunday would make Seattle a legitimate threat to return to the Super Bowl as long as the Packers and Lions do not tie this weekend and Dallas does not win. That is really specific but that would give the Cowboys a tiebreaker over Seattle. The Seahawks can still hang on to a home playoff game even with a loss to the Rams if the Cardinals lose as well but the Hawks would not have a first round bye. I think a Seahawks win is the most likely outcome. The Rams have been up and down all year and Seattle seems to be hitting its stride.

Dallas is in a weird spot between the first, second and third seed. Jerry Jones’ team can’t go any lower. A win over Washington is essential and the only way Dallas earns the first seed is if the Lions and Packers tie this weekend while Seattle wins or Arizona loses. It is an odd scenario that would trigger a tiebreaker over Seattle because Dallas beat them head to head but lost to Arizona. That means Dallas would need Seattle to win the division so that the tiebreaker with the Cardinals does not come into effect. The Cowboys need a lot of help too to get that second seed. With a Cardinals loss and a Seahawks loss on Sunday the Cowboys would lock up a first round bye, even if Washington beats them. Dallas could also end up second if the Lions and Packers tie, the Cardinals win and the Seahawks win. The Cowboys will more likely be playing as the third seed come wildcard weekend as I don’t see both Arizona and Seattle falling or a tie in the NFC North title game. I do think Dallas will trounce Washington though to gain momentum going into the playoffs.

The Lions have quietly lined themselves up for home field advantage this season. Detroit will finish as the first seed with a victory in Green Bay and a loss by the Seahawks. Most of what happens to the Lions depends on a win over the Packers. Even if Seattle wins, Detroit will still have a first round bye if it holds off Aaron Rodgers and company. A loss at Lambeau will set the Lions back to a wildcard spot as the sixth seed. Detroit cannot earn the fifth seed because of tiebreakers the Cardinals and Seahawks hold. A tie against Green Bay could make things weird. Detroit would win the division but would be stuck as the third seed if Dallas and Arizona or Seattle wins. That is extremely unlikely but it could happen. Unfortunately for Lions’ fans, sixth is where I think Detroit will finish. Winning at Lambeau field has been a tough thing to do for a very long time, especially against Aaron Rodgers.

The Cardinals will need a win over the 49ers but must rely on some outside help to get a first round bye. Assuming Arizona wins, then Seattle must fall in Saint Louis and the Lions must win in Lambeau for the Cards to clinch home field advantage. Bruce Arians’ squad has a tiebreaker over the Lions but not over the Packers, meaning a Detroit win is pivotal for the Cardinals chances. A loss against the 49ers would mean being the fifth seed or even the sixth seed if the Packers and Lions tie. Arizona will win the division with a win or tie and a Seattle loss. A tie against San Francisco plus a Dallas and a Detroit or Green Bay win would make the Cardinals the third seed. All these potential ties make the NFC a crazy place. I think Arizona finishes as the fifth seed based on a likely Seattle victory no ties between Detroit and Green Bay.

Speaking of the Packers, Green Bay has a lot of shuffling to do. A win over Detroit means a division title and a first round bye with a Seattle win. If Seattle loses, then Green Bay has home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Arizona’s result does not matter due to a Packers’ tiebreaker. With a loss or a tie though, Green Bay would be a wildcard. A loss will mean the Pack is the sixth seed. A tie and a loss by either Arizona or Seattle would give the Packers the fifth seed. I think the Packers will win but so will Seattle meaning Green Bay will finish as the second seed.

The fourth playoff seed is the easiest one to figure out. If the Panthers win or tie with Atlanta then Carolina wins the NFC South and plays as the fourth seed. If the Falcons win then Atlanta is the NFC South champion and fourth seed. Finally, something is simple. I think Atlanta wins this game. Matt Ryan has been on a bit of a tear recently and the defense looks solid.

That’s all the possible scenarios here. So my wild card round matchups would be the Cowboys hosting the Lions and Arizona visiting Atlanta to play. Keep an eye for first round predictions once the playoff field is set. To see the AFC playoff scenarios, click here. Hope you enjoy this final week of regular season football.