NFL week 17 concludes: Playoff predictions

Super Bowl 50 is just around the corner and for most football fans, we’ve made sure to make February 7 clear so that we can focus on gathering our buddies together and get those big screen TVs ready for the big day.

Before the big day happens though, we pay close attention to how our teams are doing week-by-week. After Week 17’s results, some of us may have been surprised with the outcomes of some of this past Sunday’s games.

Sunday evening’s game matchup was against the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings shockingly out-played the Packers, giving the Vikings the ability to secure their first NFC North title since 2009 as they won 20-13.

The Vikings proved to be the dominant team during the majority of the game while the Packers were extremely close to tying the game late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate events in the red zone, the Packers were unable to capitalize on the TD to tie the game.

Due to a kick return fumble made by Cordarrelle Patterson, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to set the Packers on the 13-yard line prior to calling a questionable timeout at 2:18 instead of waiting for the two minute warning. On the next play, Rodgers lost it for his team as he threw an interception to Vikings safety Xavier Rhodes.

Familiar to his successful Hail Mary pass against the Lions, Rodgers repeated the desperate attempt one last time to save the game but his efforts went unrecognized as the ball was knocked down at the goal line.

Peyton Manning returns to action for the Broncos;

Peyton Manning returns to action for the Broncos;

Overall, after clinching their first NFC North title since 2009, the Vikings have proven to be a dominant team as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the team itself played their best late into the season as they beat the bigger teams, the Bears, Giants, and Packers by a significant amount.

The Vikings will host the sixth-seeded Seahawks next Sunday while the Packers take on the Redskins Sunday afternoon.

This season the Seattle Seahawks don’t seem to be the powerful team that they were the past two seasons when they led themselves consecutive Super Bowls. But they appeared to prove themselves worthy of fighting for a playoff position this past Sunday as they dominated the first-place Arizona Cardinals in a 36-6 victory.

As the Seahawks dominated the line of scrimmage, played by their rules and ran circles around the Cardinals’ special teams, it appeared that the Arizona Cardinals played as if this game meant nothing to them.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer arguably played his worst game of the season as he threw one interception, and had dropped passes by his wide receivers. As for the special teams units, they were unable to capitalize on easy tackles giving the Seahawks significant yardage while the Arizona secondary also appeared to be outmatched without free safety Tyrann Mathieu.

At the end of the game, Arizona head coach Bruce Arians stated during the post-game interview “that this was a valuable lesson for players and coaches reading the press clippings all week. This game film will give him plenty of ammo as he motivates and re-focuses the troops for the next two weeks”.

On the flip side, Seahawks Russell Wilson is at the top of his game right now. Chris Wesseling reported that Wilson currently has a 110.1 passer rating (which is the 15th best in NFL history). Wilson also became the first player ever to throw at least 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns while also running for 500 yards. Along the way, he set franchise records for touchdown passes (34) and passing yards (4,024). Wilson certainly is at the peak of his game as others are afraid to face him on the field.

Despite the Seahawks number one running back Marshawn Lynch’s inability to play during this past Sunday’s win over Arizona, he is expected to be eligible to play next Sunday as they face Minnesota.

Despite the outcome of Week 17’s games, we want to know who is going to play in Super Bowl 50. To some, the prediction may come as a no brainer; to others, it may come as a bit of a surprise.
Columnist Joseph Zucker wrote that realistically the Super Bowl matchup may be between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.

Although both the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos sit at 12-4, it would be more fitting that the Broncos land their spot in the Super Bowl.

Zucker commented that, “a dominant defence is what separates the Broncos from the Patriots and Bengals. Entering Sunday, Denver ranked first in total defence and fourth in points allowed. Football Outsiders also placed the Broncos first in defensive DVOA (defence-adjusted value over average). Their pass rush could rattle an inexperienced McCarron or exploit a New England offensive line ravaged by injury.”

Despite Denver’s many flaws with Osweiler, and turnover prone Peyton Manning, it is also the strongest overall team in the AFC at the moment.

As for the NFC team predicted to play in Super Bowl 50; it goes head-to-head between the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks.

The two teams have always seemed to have a battle between each other when they face one another; therefore it would be fitting if the two teams fought for the NFC title game.

“The Panthers are essentially the team the Seahawks were before they won their first conference title in 2013,” reported Zucker. “Neither boasted a flashy offense yet regularly moved the ball down the field thanks to a mobile quarterback and steady running game. They also relied heavily on one of the league’s best defence.”

Although Carolina’s defence isn’t nearly as dominant as Seattle’s, it can be argued that Cam Newton is the better quarterback this season. Newton struggles against the Seattle defence every time they meet but during their last game against Seattle, Newton was able to add up 269 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the win.

With Newton’s MVP season and talent that he has given the Panthers, it is for this reason that it is predicted they will face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

The Brock Press NFL Playoff Predictions:

Satbir Singh Predicts:
Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl over the Arizona Cardinals

Connor Allen Predicts:
Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos.

Connor Allen
Assistant Sports Editor

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