By Jash Mody
Every year, the National Football League hosts the playoffs, in which the best American football teams compete. The playoffs are significantly competitive given the circumstances that if teams lose, they go home. Normally there are seven teams from each of the two conferences — NFC and AFC — that compete until there is only one team left from each. The two final teams compete in the Super Bowl. The reason the playoffs is such a big deal is due to the intensity and close games. The Super Bowl itself breaks multiple records as it averages 5.7 million viewers every year.
The NFL playoffs not only determine the best team, but they impact the entire NFL. The playoffs are mainly impacted by specific players and coaches. Coaching is a key principle of football. Many significant games have been impacted simply by decisions and techniques from coaches. For example in 2015, Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, made the decision to throw the ball on the one yard line. The ball was intercepted, which led to the loss of the Seahawks. If they simply ran the ball, the game most likely would have ended differently.
“Multiple professional NFL analysts projected the Chiefs to win...”
This year's Super Bowl was a massive game for coaching, with the powerhouse offense of the Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Multiple professional NFL analysts projected the Chiefs to win. However, Todd Bowels, the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers, planned the perfect game plan to knock out the defending Super Bowl champions with an impressive score of 31-9.
Key players have also impacted the playoffs. One example is Tom Brady, who has over 30 playoff wins, 10 conference championships and seven super bowl wins. Specifically this year, the Los Angeles Rams have signed multiple star players such as quarterback Mathew Staford, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and linebacker Von Miller. Former league MVP Aaron Rodgers continues his success with the Green Bay Packers, as they dominate their division. These efficient coaching decisions and elite level players can really determine a playoff team.
“Coaching has decided what players play in certain positions. It has either helped or hurt the chances of a team making it to the playoffs. Great coaches like Bill Belichick, Bruce Areins, and Andy Reid have helped develop their franchises, attain franchise players and acquire Super Bowl wins,” said freshman Arjit Nair.
The ways in which the playoffs impact the NFL future is also the order of the draft, where the worse teams do, the higher their draft pick will be. Also, if there is a specific moment or controversial decision, the NFL can take decision making and regulations in order to maybe change the rules. Finally, players who have done exceptionally well can be considered for an extension in their contract with their team or even looked at as a potential player for another team.
Artwork by Ashwathi Chemban
NFL fans and NHP students are filled with excitement and anticipation over the playoffs.
In terms of predictions, currently in the NFC side, the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals are clearly the top teams statistically. The Los Angeles Rams started the season strong but have slowly fallen apart. However, looking at past patterns, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have a strong chance of making it to the Super Bowl. For the NFC, the Buccaneers and Packers are the most likely to play in the NFC Championship game.
As for the AFC, the Patriots and Ravens are impressively strong contenders and have outplayed many of the other powerful teams, such as the Chargers, Bills, Titans, and Chiefs. Taking the following into account, the Super Bowl is projected to be Ravens vs. Buccaneers. The Patriots' top level defense and coaching can bring them up, but their inconsistency on the offensive side will be a struggle for them. The Packers, however, are currently the best team in football, yet when it comes to the playoffs, they have struggled coaching-wise for the past 10 years. The Buccaneers' coaching and experience will most likely win it all against the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
NHP students have varying opinions about who will move forward this year.
“I believe that the Bucs will repeat as champions. They have an amazing defense and an even better offense. And their quarterback is the greatest player in the history of football, Tom Brady. Tom Brady knows how to win, and that has affected the Bucs. They were a great team last year, and I think they can win it all this year,” said freshman Dylan Sanichara.
“I believe that the Green Bay Packers are going to win the Super Bowl. They have so much experience and a great leader in Aaron Rodgers,” says freshman Charlie Vasquez.
The standings of these top-performing teams have created a suspenseful and competitive atmosphere surrounding the NFL world. Students at NHP and fans alike will have to wait until February to see how the Super Bowl will play out.