NFL Week 17: 5 Teams on Upset Alert
With the playoff picture almost set, take a look at the five teams that should consider themselves on upset alert for NFL Week 17.
Between teams fighting for playoff seeding to others hoping to just end the year on a strong note, there’s plenty to discuss for these five teams on upset alert heading into NFL Week 17 of the 2016 season.
After four exciting months, the NFL regular season will officially come to an end on Sunday, as some of the remaining games will have a major impact on the playoff standings. While teams like the Seattle Seahawks are battling to earn a first-round bye, other teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will need an absolute miracle just to have a shot at making the postseason.
Meanwhile, there are a handful of other teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals that hope to end a disappointing year on a positive note by ending the regular season with a win. For two teams that seemed talented enough to make a run for the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year, it will be interesting to see the type of approach the Vikings and Cardinals take in the offseason to make sure they bounce back in 2017.
Starting off with the Seahawks, enjoy the final list of teams on upset alert heading into NFL Week 17 as the playoffs are right around the corner.
Dec 15, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll walks to the sidelines after contesting a call in a game against the Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
5. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have nobody to blame but themselves for losing out on the No. 2 seed in the NFC after last weekend’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. At the moment, the Seahawks currently hold the No. 3 spot while the Atlanta Falcons have the advantage of having the No. 2 seed in the conference, which means Pete Carroll and company will need some extra help this weekend if they’re going to have any shot at earning a first-round bye.
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When comparing how the two teams have played throughout the regular season, there’s no reason why Seattle should lose to the San Francisco 49ers as Chip Kelly has only recorded two wins during his first season as head coach, both of which came against the Los Angeles Rams. Only time will tell when it comes to whether Kelly will be back for a second season with the 49ers. But the fact that he’s on the hot seat may be enough motivation for the head coach to come out firing against his division rivals in the Seahawks.
Kelly proved last week against Los Angeles that he’s not holding back on any gutsy decisions after going for the two-point conversion to win the contest instead of kicking a field goal to send the game into overtime. Plus, when looking at the previous history between Colin Kaepernick and Seattle, there’s nothing the quarterback would love more than to make an impact on their playoff seeding.
Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) looks on during the second half against the New Orleans Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
4. Arizona Cardinals
For a team that has turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments, would it really be considered a surprise to see the Arizona Cardinals fall to the Los Angeles Rams during their regular-season finale? The Cardinals may be coming off a very impressive win over the Seattle Seahawks, but keep in mind this is a team that hasn’t won two games in a row since the middle of October.
Not to mention, Arizona already lost to Los Angeles earlier in the season, and that was when Case Keenum was running the offense at quarterback. This time around, Jared Goff will be calling the shots under center. There’s nothing the top-overall pick from this year’s draft would love more than to finally earn that first win as a rookie.
At the beginning of the season, the Cardinals were expected to be one of the top contenders in the NFC, especially after falling just short of reaching the Super Bowl when they lost to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship. With a 6-8-1 record heading into the final weekend of the regular season, another loss to Los Angeles would be the icing on the cake to what’s been a season to forget for Bruce Arians and Arizona.
Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes against the Indianapolis Colts in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
3. Minnesota Vikings
When it comes to the biggest regrets from the 2016 season, the decision by the Minnesota Vikings to give up a first-round pick in 2017 to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Sam Bradford is going to rank near the top of that list. Not only are the Vikings going to be watching this year’s playoffs from home, but also they’re going to miss out on playing into January despite a 5-0 start to the year.
After their impressive start, Minnesota seemed to a lock for at least a Wild Card spot in the NFC before going on to lose eight of their next 10 games. What’s even sadder for this team is it wouldn’t really be a surprise to see them lose to the 3-12 Chicago Bears on Sunday for the second time this season.
Bradford was supposed to be the answer to making sure the Vikings remain strong contenders in the NFC, and while that may have seemed to be the case early on, it’s clear the veteran quarterback turned out to be a complete bust. With Chicago having more players like Matt Barkley in need of proving themselves worthy for the 2017 season, Minnesota may not be as motivated as their division rivals since they can’t even play for draft order at this point since their first-rounder is already going to Philadelphia.
Dec 24, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken talks to wide receiver Russell Shepard (89) on the bench in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A few weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers controlled their own playoff destiny in the NFC after emerging as one of the hottest teams in the league thanks to a five-game winning streak. Since then, the Buccaneers are coming off two tough losses on the road to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints to put them in an impossible situation just to have a shot the playoffs.
Nothing against Tampa Bay, but when looking at all of the scenarios that need to play out in order for them to make the postseason, it’s easier to accept that it’s not going to happen. Between missing out on key opportunities over the last two weeks along with a poor start to the year with a 1-3 record, the Buccaneers can only blame themselves for being in this heartbreaking situation.
Of course, even if these scenarios did play out, Tampa Bay would still need to find a way to defeat the Carolina Panthers. Even if the Buccaneers did win the first meeting between these two teams, there’s nothing the Panthers would love more than to shatter the dreams of their division rivals by coming through with a big road win during the regular-season finale.
Dec 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with Jeremy Maclin (19) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Isn’t it amazing how the Kansas City Chiefs are currently hold on to the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs, but could still finish as high as No. 2? Obviously, the Chiefs will need some help from the Denver Broncos if that’s going to have any chance of happening, but the team is focused on defeating the San Diego Chargers before even thinking that far ahead.
When it comes to the most frustrating teams to follow from the 2016 season, it’s hard not to think of the Chargers since nine of their 10 losses have come by single digits, a trend that unfortunately carried over from last year. Thanks to the frustrations that have built up over the last two seasons, it only seems like a matter of time before Mike McCoy is sent packing from the organization, but that doesn’t mean the head coach wouldn’t love to go out with a bang.
If anything, the last thing Kansas City can afford to do is approach this game lightly as San Diego would love to play the spoiler role to ruin their division rival’s chances of earning a first-round bye. Not to mention, the Chargers would love revenge for what happened in Week 1 when they allowed the Chiefs to overcome a 17-point deficit before going on to win in overtime.