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Friday, April 19, 2024

49ers, Ravens lead playoffs as AFC and NFC top teams

Major games left in the last week of the NFL season before the playoffs

 

By MEGAN JOSEPH — sports@theaggie.org

 

As the NFL season comes to an end, with one final week remaining, there is much uncertainty as to who will earn certain spots in the playoffs and eventually the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens have secured their spots in the playoffs as the two first-seeded teams in their divisions and conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). 

With strong seasonal performances from teams in each respective division, the playoffs will consist of 14 teams, seven from each conference. The teams are seeded from one to seven based on their performance throughout the season and will remain divided into the NFC and AFC. The winner of the conference earns the AFC or NFC Championship title and a ticket to the Super Bowl to determine who the NFL Champion is. 

This season for the AFC has proven to be dynamic, with many top teams falling victim to defeat. Nonetheless, the Ravens pulled out first seed for the division playoffs after their win over the Miami Dolphins during week 17 of the season on Dec. 31. As the first-seeded team and winner of the AFC North sub-division, the Ravens are awarded a “bye” — meaning they do not have to play to advance — for the first round of playoffs.

Having one of the best records this season out of all NFL teams, the Ravens are a strong prospect to make the Super Bowl and play against their NFC counterpart. Suffering only a total of four losses this season and securing 13 wins, the Ravens will be a hard team to beat in the championship. 

Although the Dolphins lost to the Ravens, they have still had a strong season, currently being placed as the second-seeded team in the conference. The Dolphins are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs despite still awaiting to see if they have earned the title of AFC East champion over the Buffalo Bills. If the Bills secure a victory over the Dolphins, then the Bills will win their fourth consecutive season as AFC East Champion and surpass the Dolphins as the second-seeded team in the conference. However, if the Dolphins secure a win, then they will maintain their current position as the second-seeded team and avoid falling to the sixth-seeded spot.

Another impressive performance this year came from the winners of the past Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite not leading the AFC division this season, the Chiefs should not be counted out of the Super Bowl and AFC championship just yet. As the third-seeded team in the conference, the Chiefs have shown they have what it takes to stay in the game with their AFC West title that they secured with support all around.

With such strong teams coming from both the AFC and NFC divisions, there is no question that this season’s playoffs and subsequent Super Bowl will be very entertaining. As the only other team in the league to suffer four losses this season, the San Francisco 49ers have been seeded first in the NFC division. After winning a total of 12 games this season led by underdog quarterback Brock Purdy, we can expect to see the 49ers go far in the playoffs and potentially make it all the way. 

Similarly to the Ravens, the 49ers have also been granted a bye for the first round of the playoffs and are one of the more favored teams for the Super Bowl. At the 49ers’ recent game against the Washington Commanders, the 49ers played remarkably well, with Purdy breaking the 49ers’ all-time passing yards record in his first season as the team’s starting quarterback.  

Even though the 49ers have secured their win as the NFC West champions, the NFC East champion is yet to be announced. The second-seeded team in the NFC division, the Dallas Cowboys, still has one last game to play before the NFC East champion is to be announced. This game against the Washington Commanders will prove very crucial for the NFC division standings. If the Cowboys are unable to pull out a win against the Commanders, then that gives the Philadelphia Eagles a chance to win the NFC East title and move up to the second-seeded position. 

Additionally, if the Cowboys lose their final game then the third-seeded team, the Detroit Lions, has a chance to take over the second-seeded position. As the NFC North winners, the Lions can only take the second seed position if the Cowboys lose their final game and the Eagles lose their final game. Thus, there is a lot riding on this week’s set of games for not only the Cowboys and Eagles but also the Lions. Nevertheless, no matter the outcome of the games all three teams will have a spot in the playoffs and a chance to fight for the championship.

With both conference divisions battling for their spots in the playoffs and Super Bowl, this season is far from over. 

 

Written by: Megan Joseph — sports@theaggie.org

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