Professional Sports

THE SPORTS SHAQ: Who is likely to be left out of NFL playoffs race?

In the AFC, there is a lot of drama we have to sort through to get to the end of this playoff race.

With only a quarter of the season to go, the AFC playoff picture is really four distinct races for six playoff spots.

In the NFC, things are not as clear as they are in the other conference. Every week something shakes up the playoff spots. In the end, we could possibly see three teams from one division (the NFC South) make the playoffs. That will definitely call for some great football to watch.

The fun part about the playoff race is that you have a clear race for every taste of football you may hope to see. If you want to see two amazing modern teams at their peak go head-to-head in a traditional rivalry, you have the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Those two teams are currently competing for the top two spots in the conference. If you should prefer a hard-hitting, smash-mouth football game, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans down in the AFC South can give you just that. Now, if you would rather see total disarray unfold, the AFC West is in a three-team disaster zone with only four games left to play.

Out west, the Denver Broncos essentially have been eliminated, but it is the Kansas City Chiefs that have fallen completely apart after opening the season on a five-game winning streak. The Los Angeles Chargers have surprisingly emerged as a contender after having a couple of shocking wins and the Oakland Raiders are trying to become the team we thought they would be all along.

The Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders all sit at 6-6 and it will be fun to see who will emerge as the number one team. While Oakland and the Chargers are looking better, the Chiefs are looking worse and may end up being pushed out the playoffs. The Chiefs plays both teams the next two weeks so we will see who is gearing up for that playoff run.

Most of the playoff races feature one or more head-to-head games that could end up being the deciding factor. As much as the AFC has felt inevitable to come down to Patriots and Steelers for majority of the season, there is still a lot of drama waiting to be sorted out during the final month of the season.

Though the Steelers have been winning, they are not looking anywhere near the team that can beat the Patriots. When you barely get past teams you should beat, especially when you have a top wide receiver and running backs, I lose faith in how far you will go in the playoffs,

The NFC is filled with just as much drama as the AFC. With the Philadelphia Eagles loss to the Seattle Seahawks Dec. 3, they are no longer the number one seed in the NFC. That title now belongs to the Minnesota Vikings, after their gritty defensive game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints sit at third and fourth after the Rams won their head-to-head matchup two weeks ago with a 9-3 record. This is where it starts to get real interesting.

The Seahawks beat the league’s best team, and because the Falcons could not get pass the Vikings, they are now fifth in the playoff race. The Carolina Panthers lost to New Orleans Dec. 3, but they are still one game ahead of the Falcons in their division heading into there showdown Dec. 7. Both the Panthers and Seahawks are tied at 8-4.

If the playoff started today, the Falcons would be on the outside with a record of 7-5. Fortunate for them, they hold their playoff fate in their own hands.

Their last four games are against division teams and if they win all four of them, they will not only make the playoffs but they also will win the division. They play the Saints twice, the Panthers and Buccaneers once. They are currently one game behind the Panthers, who play the Vikings Dec. 10, and two games behind the Saints.

I will rule out the Lions, Packers and Cowboys. The final playoff spot will go to either the Falcons or the Seahawks and the Falcons own the tie-breaker between the two.

Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at