The 2021-2022 NFL season has certainly been one full of many ups and downs, upsets and disappointments, and, most notably, lots of injuries and COVID-19 scares.
This season, in particular, has been a little bit of a strange one, with teams who struggled last season suddenly becoming good, teams who usually perform well falling to terrible teams, and teams (in general) struggling to score points, resulting in some bizarrely disappointing ending scores.
It is an interesting time to be an NFL fan, and especially a fan who places bets on NFL odds actively and consistently. Due to an unusual number of statistical upsets and surprises, the odds for which team will win the Super Bowl have fluctuated a lot throughout this season. Now that the playoffs have drawn nearer, the moneyline odds have gotten a little bit more definitive.
That being said, I am not going to bring in any specific odds for this Super Bowl preview piece. All of my claims will be based on my personal opinion that has been developed from watching these teams play for 17 weeks. Maybe I will be wrong, but what’s the fun of betting without a little risk?
AFC Playoff Picture
For the AFC, five teams have officially clinched playoff spots, with several teams battling it out for the top seed in the conference for a bye in the first week of the playoffs. The Tennessee Titans (11-5,) the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5,) the Cincinnati Bengals (10-6,) the Buffalo Bills (10-6,) and the New England Patriots (10-6,) are on their way to the playoffs. The Indianapolis Colts (9-7) and the Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) are currently in the hunt for a playoff spot, with their fates to be determined by their performances in the upcoming last week of the NFL regular season.
NFC Playoff Picture
For the NFC, seven teams have clinched playoff spots. The Green Bay Packers (13-3,) The Los Angeles Rams (12-4,) the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4,) the Dallas Cowboys (11-5,) the Arizona Cardinals (11-5,) and the Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) have secured a place in the postseason. The San Francisco 49ers (9-7) are still in the hunt for a spot.
Teams to Count Out
Since I love way-too-early predictions, here is one AFC and one NFC team that I think will be out of the Super Bowl contenders circle after their first playoff game.
Who’s Out in the AFC: The Indianapolis Colts
Even though they have not clinched a playoff spot as of now, I have to say the Indianapolis Colts are the AFC team who will not make it past one playoff game, assuming, of course, that they make it to the playoffs in the first place.
My main reason for making this decision lies in the inconsistency and unreliability of Carson Wentz. While the Colts’ running game, led by Jonathan Taylor, has been impressive and vital, their passing game has been horribly inconsistent, varying week to week.
If the Colts wish to earn a playoff spot and advance in the postseason, improving their passing game on a large scale is vital, and I really do not think that is going to happen. If it has not happened in the past 17 weeks, it probably will not happen in the week before the playoffs.
Carson Wentz has always been a question mark, as he has struggled with injuries his entire career, but especially this season. After going through ankle surgery in the preseason, Wentz missed a few games early in the season with two sprained ankles. I do not think that he is capable of carrying his team to the playoffs or to a playoff win. In my book, the Indianapolis Colts are out before they are even in.
Who’s Out in the NFC: The Philadelphia Eagles
Through some good luck and decent football, the Philadelphia Eagles have somehow scraped their way into the playoffs with a mediocre 9-7 record. A lot of people are saying that the Eagles are the dark horse bet of the NFL playoffs this year, but I think that is going a bit far. The Eagles have certainly made something out of a season where they had nothing, that is for certain. That being said, I would be floored if the Eagles survived and won their first playoff game this season.
This season, the Eagles have beaten a lot of bad teams. As childish as it sounds, they have not really beaten any good teams. Their path to the playoffs has been built on capitalizing off of bad and mediocre teams, instead of out-performing and defeating good teams. That is not an option in the playoffs, especially this season in the NFC. The NFC is home to the three top teams in the league in terms of records: The Green Bay Packers (13-3,) the Los Angeles Rams (12-4,) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4.)
The Eagles cannot capitalize off of wins against bad teams anymore. The playoffs are a different story, and I really do not see them standing much of a chance against any of their NFC playoff competitors. I expect them to get destroyed in their first playoff game, (unless the San Francisco 49ers make the playoffs, then it would probably be a closer game,) sending their Super Bowl hopes down the drain quickly.