2011 NFL Playoffs logo2011 NFL Playoffs

NFL Playoff Predictions: 7 Teams That Are Clicking at the Right Time

Brett LyonsContributor IIIDecember 19, 2011

NFL Playoff Predictions: 7 Teams That Are Clicking at the Right Time

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    Week 15 is nearly in the books and, as it wraps up, things are getting down to the nitty gritty in the race for the playoffs.

    We’re seeing certain teams rise to the occasion, while others are falling flat on their faces.

    The end of the NFL season is always something that can’t be scripted. The raw excitement and drama is something so enticing, not even Hollywood’s best films can match it.

    There are only two weeks in the regular season. The time to make your move is now.

    So which teams have the upper hand right now in the unofficial game of momentum?

    Who’s riding a hot streak and who’s poised for a Lombardi Trophy run?

    Here are the top seven teams in the league clicking at the most important time of the calendar— the home stretch.

Arizona Cardinals (7-7)

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    It sounds funny, but John Skelton has the Cardinals moving in the right direction.

    Arizona is riding a four-game winning streak and is within shouting distance in the NFC Wild Card race. They’re the furthest from the final playoff spot, but their recent winning ways are impressive. The Cards have wins in six of their last seven games.

    But, they’re going to need to win out and get help from Detroit, Seattle and Dallas losing to even have a chance to make it at 9-7.

Atlanta Falcons (9-5)

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    Right now, the Falcons are as close to a sure-fire playoff team as they come.

    Following their rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday, the Falcons have a solid nine wins and hold tiebreakers over Detroit and Seattle.

    And here’s the wild thing for the Falcons.

    They’re currently a solid lock for the No. 5 seed. However, they’re just a game behind the New Orleans Saints with a head-to-head coming up in Week 16. The bad news is that this one is in the Superdome.

    If the Falcons can beat the Saints and finish the season with a home win against Tampa Bay in Week 17, they have an outside shot to jump the Saints, win the NFC South and finish as high as the No. 2 seed.

Seattle Seahawks (7-7)

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    The Seahawks continue to find ways to win.

    They’ve notched a W in five of their last six and are riding a three-game win streak.

    It seemed unlikely a month ago that the Seahawks would have a shot in hell at getting back into the playoff race, but they’ve managed to defy the odds.

    It’s a long shot right now for the Hawks to play in January. However, their schedule favors them.

    Seattle's next two games are at home against the 49ers and away against the Cardinals. They need to win out to get nine wins and get help from other clubs just to sniff the postseason.

Denver Broncos (8-6)

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    Tim Tebow’s Broncos finally came back down to earth Sunday as they fell at home to the Patriots.

    They’ve still managed to win six of their last seven contests and have turned 1-4 into 8-6. That alone speaks volumes of what the team is capable of when it plays defense.

    The remaining schedule isn’t that tough for Denver either (at Buffalo, vs. Kansas City), so they could realistically pick up two more wins and finish with as many as ten.

    Ten wins could make a world of difference for the Broncos. With the Texans, Steelers and Ravens all having ten wins as well, the Broncos could realistically leapfrog a few, depending on how the tiebreakers fall.

    So, you lose to the mighty Patriots? Oh well, there’s still a tomorrow.

New Orleans Saints (11-3)

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    The Saints are red hot.

    And it’s a good thing they are, because the division-rival Falcons are keeping pace.

    New Orleans is riding a six-game win streak and has claimed victory in seven of its last eight games.

    All cylinders on offense appear to be running well for the Saints. Drew Brees is commanding the offense flawlessly and utilizing all his weapons.

    There’s really not much more you can say. This team is poised and positioned to make a deep playoff run and even lock up the No. 2 seed, which comes with the coveted first-round bye.

New England Patriots (11-3)

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    New England polished off its latest win Sunday by taking care of Denver, marking the team’s sixth straight win.

    By doing so, they secured the AFC East crown.

    The Patriots are the current No. 1 seed in the AFC and have now finished their road schedule. They have two very winnable games at Gillette Stadium against the Dolphins and Bills to close out the season, giving them a realistic chance to finish the season with 13 wins.

    As all eyes are on the conference’s top seed, it’s full steam ahead for New England and their fearless leader, Tommy Terrific.

Green Bay Packers (13-1)

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    The league’s best club still resides in the upper Midwest.

    Even though they lost their claim to a “perfect” season after falling at Kansas City Sunday afternoon, Green Bay might have taken a burden off their shoulders. The talks and pressure of finishing 16-0 are now gone and they still have a firm grasp on the NFC’s No. 1 seed because their only loss was out of conference.

    Aaron Rodgers has his Packers playing lights out with a mere blemish on the record now. If you think that a small trip up to the lowly Chiefs will slow this team down, I advise you get yourself checked out.

    The season wraps up at Lambeau Field for the Pack. Two home games against the Bears (on Christmas) and the Lions, who may or may not have anything to play for at the time.

     

    Brett Lyons is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials. 

    Follow Brett Lyons on Twitter @BrettLyons670. 

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