Pick Six: Three to follow and three to forget for the NFL play-offs

Which teams are in form and who is in free fall with just three weeks to go before the end of the season NFL regular season? Matthew Crist gives his verdict…

Matthew Crist

There are just three weeks left of the regular NFL season and while some teams are red hot right now, others are showing worrying signs of fading away just when it matters most.

Sunday’s early game this week sees the Houston Texans visit the Tennessee Titans as the pair tussle for pole position in the AFC South, both with identical records as the Texans seeking a response to their 38-24 loss to the Denver Broncos and the Titans coming into this off the back of a 42-21 win over the Oakland Raiders.

The Los Angeles Rams will be chasing their third successive win when they visit the Dallas Cowboys later on Sunday night with the home side slipping to their third defeat in a row, after going down 31-24 to the Chicago Bears, a defeat which may prove costly come Week 17.

Meanwhile, the Bills go to Pittsburgh looking to take another stride towards a play-off spot while the Steelers  can strengthen their grip on a Wild Card spot having moved to 8-5 for the season.

So who is worth watching going into the final few weeks of the regular season and what teams appear to have already run their race heading into the home straight?

Who is hot…

Kansas City Chiefs

Things looked pretty bleak for the Chiefs after starting 4-0 and then losing Patrick Mahomes to a dislocated kneecap in Week Seven, but following a loss on his return, the Chiefs have come up with three straight wins, including a dramatic victory in New England last week.

This is despite their star QB not operating at the breakneck speed he was at the start of the season, even so, last year’s MVP Mahomes has still thrown for 21 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

If Mahomes can fins the kind of form that took the Chiefs deep into the post season last year then this side could be a match for just about anybody come the playoffs.

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears

Once again the Bears have left it late but are giving it their all when it comes to sneaking in as the sixth seed, needing things to go their way of they are to make the post season.

Much of this resurgence has been down to Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with seven total touchdowns in his last two games as the Bears have made it three wins on the bounce.

However, Chicago face the 10-3 Packers, 9-4 Chiefs and 9-4 Vikings in their last three games, and are already one game behind Minnesota in the fight for the sixth seed.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Somehow the Steelers are currently holding a play-off berth despite losing their fist and second string quarter backs at the beginning of the season and though they haven’t had any huge wins of note, they have managed to scrape close wins with rookie Devlin Hodges at quarterback.

Hodges has now won four straight games to start his career despite throwing just 71 passes across them but they will need some huge performances if  they hold on to the sixth seed.

Pittsburgh face Buffalo and Baltimore in the last three weeks, as well as travelling to the Jets, with Tennessee waiting in the wings should they slip up.

Who is not…

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas dropped their third straight game against the Bears in Week 14 – a fourth defeat in the last five – meaning that their post-season hopes hang by a thread.

They say the best form of defence is attack and somehow the Cowboys  they still have the league’s best offense when it comes to yardage and they will probably need it if they are to get over the line in three-weeks time.

It looks more than likely that their season will be decided by next week’s NFC East decider when they visit the Eagles in Philly as any urther slips might just prove fatal for a side who promised so much.

Indianapolis Colts

At one point in the season, the Colts were 5-2 with a 2-0 division record but since then it’s all gone south, crashing down to earth with three straight defeats threatening to undo their play-off hopes.

All is not lost, however, as they are just two games behind the Texans and Titans – but if they do squeeze in it will be something of a miracle.

Sure, Andrew Luck’s retirement had a huge impact on the side but one man doesn’t make a team, so the Colts must now assess their options of they are to avoid more seasons of heartache.

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Okay, nobody should ever write off the New England Patriots, they’ve proved too many people wrong down the years to give up on the six-time Super Bowl winners.

However, based on current form, Bill Bellichick’s men are on the crest of a slump, having lost two games straight and three of their last five and the usually reliable Tom Brady completing just 51.5 per cent of his passes in the last month.

But worry not Patriots fans, New England are usually reborn in January and thrive on pressure, so with Buffalo right behind them, the Week 16 clash between the two is massive and could just reboot their season.

Week 15 Fixtures in Full

Miami Dolphins @ NY Giants
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers  @ Detroit Lions
New England Patriots @ Cincinnati Bengals
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
Minnesota Vikings @ Los Angeles Chargers
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Oakland Raiders
Cleveland Browns @ Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys
Buffalo Bills @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Indianapolis Colts @ New Orleans Saints

*Odds subject to change

Leave a comment

Follow Matthewjcrist on Twitter