Santa is about to unwrap the playoff fate for the entire NFL. In just a few days, we will know the exact NFL playoff matchups, but things are starting to take shape in both the NFC and AFC. The Saints-Steelers matchup served as a perfect picture of the race in our NFL power rankings.
Just seconds before JuJu Smith-Schuster's fumble, it looked like the Steelers were mounting a comeback victory. Now, the Steelers will need the help of Baker Mayfield to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh needs the Browns to defeat the Ravens in order to have a chance to make the playoffs.
While there was no guarantee the Steelers would have won the game, it appeared Pittsburgh was on their way before Smith-Schuster's fumble. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke about the position the team now finds themselves.
"We made the bed, we'll lay in it," Tomlin told NFL.com. "I'll expect us to lay in it very well and perform. We'll control what it is that we can control and that's our preparation to play next week. All other things out of our control, we won't worry much about. Like everyone else, we've had 15 opportunities to this point to state a case for ourselves so we won't lament about our positioning. We'll just simply control the things that are in front of us, and that's next week's preparation and play."
Tomlin is hoping Mayfield can help make that bed a little nicer.
The Road to the Super Bowl in the NFC Will Travel Through the Superdome
The Saints were the beneficiaries of the fumble as it helped New Orleans' secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Playing in the Superdome is a massive advantage for the Saints, and now the team has the opportunity to play their two playoff games at home. The Saints offense is particularly lethal at home making it tougher for the Rams, Bears and the other NFC contenders come January.
Some of the Saints players are referring to it as "Domefield advantage." Saints running back Alvin Kamara spoke about the vibe inside the Superdome and how the team feeds off the energy.
“That’s like we got 13 people on the field because the Dome is that much of an advantage with the noise, with the energy, just the atmosphere that that brings,” Kamara told Nola.com.
The Cowboys & Patriots Clinched Playoff Berths in Week 16
After squandering opportunities in Week 15, the Patriots and Cowboys took care of business in Week 16. Both teams clinched their division and are officially headed to the playoffs. The Cowboys are locked in as the NFC's No. 4 seed, while it is more complicated for the Patriots.
New England still has some work to do in order to secure a first-round bye, but the Patriots sit in a good position. A win by the Patriots against the Jets in Week 17 will give New England a little extra rest.
For the Cowboys, there continue to be questions about the Dallas offense, but the defense is doing enough to compensate. The Cowboys were clicking offensively with the addition of Amari Cooper but have hit a bit of a dry spell over the last couple weeks. We will see if they can get the offense back in high gear before the postseason.
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