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Cottam’s Corner: NFL playoffs approaching

Cowboys at Redskins 9/18/16

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Cowboys at Redskins 9/18/16

Zach Cottam, Reporter

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After 17 weeks of football, 12 teams have officially punched their way to the postseason, looking for the opportunity to make their city and fans champions in February. 6 teams from both conferences, the American and National, have earned the right to fight for the Lombardi. The four divisional leaders as well as two “wild card” teams will begin facing off this Saturday, January 7.

The following teams represent the American Football Conference:
1. New England Patriots (14-2)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
4. Houston Texans (9-7)
5. Oakland Raiders (12-4)
6. Miami Dolphins (10-6)

The Patriots, led by MVP-candidate Tom Brady, rolled through their schedule with hiccups to Buffalo and Seattle, and locked up the top seed with their best record since going 16-0 in 2007. The Pats currently hold the best odds to win the Super Bowl at 8-to-5, according to fooballlocks.com. The Chiefs and Raiders finished tied through record, but Kansas City held the tie-breaker in that they had defeated Oakland twice this season. This didn’t come into play until the final weekend of the season, though, as the Chiefs were standing a few games back earlier in the year. The Texans wrapped up a weak division that finished 29-35, the only division with an overall losing record. The AFC Playoff games start this Saturday, the 7th, as Miami Dolphins travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers at 12:05, and the Oakland Raiders head to Houston to take on the Texans at 3:35. The Patriots and Chiefs both earned a first-round bye, and will play the winners of the games this weekend. The Patriots will play the lost remaining seed, and the Chiefs will face the highest remaining seed.

The following teams represent the National Football Conference:
1. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
2. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
3. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
4. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
5. New York Giants (11-5)
6. Detroit Lions (9-7)

The Cowboys, led by a dominant running attack thanks to the best offensive line in football and the league-leading rusher in Ezekiel Elliott, wrapped up the first seed by Week 15 and finished with their best record since 2007, getting to 13-3 for the third time in franchise history. The currently hold the second best odds to win the Super Bowl at 15-to-4. The only team to “really” beat the Cowboys (the Eagles don’t count, they beat Mark Sanchez) was the New York Giants, who took the first wild card seed, and pose the most realistic obstacle between the Cowboys and Houston. After starting the season at 4-6, Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy promised to “run the table” in 2016, and that’s exactly what they did. The Packers won their next 5, including the division-clinching win against Detroit on the last game of the year. The NFC Playoffs take place on Sunday, the 8th, as the Packers host the Giants at 3:40, followed by the Lions and Seahawks battling it out in the night game, beginning at 7:15. The Cowboys and Falcons earned the week off, and the Cowboys will play the lowest remaining seed while the Falcons take on the highest remaining seed.

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Cottam’s Corner: NFL playoffs approaching