Belfast American Football Writing

I write a column on American Football for a local paper - here you can read the reports a couple of days before they go in print; and my confused waffles...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

11 into 3

AS the American Football season enters its final weekend, more than a third of the league is still in contention for the final three playoff spots available – that’s 11 teams vying to keep playing into 2007.

Looked at in another way, 20 teams are still in contention for Super Bowl XLI, the most ever with one week left to the season since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.

“Teams that are playing the best at the end of the season are the teams that win,” said defensive tackle Darwin Walker of the 9-6 Philadelphia Eagles, who have won four in a row and five of seven in the second half of the season.

And if is the sides with that hot streak that believe they can secure the final three play-offer berths, like the Titans who have won six in a row, the Jets four of their last five, the Packers three in a row and the Rams two in a row.

The Jets and the Denver Broncos know a win will secure post-season football, but for Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Kansas City, NY
Giants, St. Louis, Tennessee only other results will mean they are in the play-offs.

For the New York Jets, the goal is clear: “We like controlling our own destiny and not having to rely on someone else to help us,” said Jets Shaun Ellis.

The Denver Broncos have won their last two with new starter Jay Cutler at the helm. The rookie has become the first quarterback in history to throw for multiple touchdowns in each of his first four games. A win or tie will earn the Broncos their fifth playoff berth in a row.

The Chicago Bears (13-2) have clinched the first homefield advantage in their history and tie San Diego for the league’s best record; plus they take a four-game win streak into Week 17 and definitely want to keep it going entering the play-offs.

Chicago will play the league’s final game of the regular season. Their match-up against the visiting Green Bay Packers is a crucial one for the Packers, but not one the Bears are like to concede as a ‘gimme’.

“We want to finish out the season with another victory,” said Bears WR Rashied Davis. “That’s it.”

The Packers must defeat Chicago and have other scenarios go their way to enter the playoffs.



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