Against all odds, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the verge of making the playoffs. Ultimately, betting on Baker Mayfield would have been a good bet. The quarterback has regained his feelings, his bearings, but above all his confidence. He looks a lot like the Baker Mayfield who led the Cleveland Browns to the second round of the playoffs in 2020. By signing a one-year contract at minimum salary, the 28-year-old center had nothing to lose. He proved this season that he can still be the leader of a winning team. Mayfield notably helped receiver Mike Evans have another 1,000-yard season. If those two can still be together on Sunday, the Bucs will be winter detail. And against the disappointing Panthers, it felt like it was done. Nothing went well in Carolina. Despite the selection of Bryce Young first overall in the last draft, the rebuild is slower than expected. The team will finish last in the entire league. The Bucs will be able to secure their place in the playoffs with one hand behind their back.
For the 17th straight season, Mike Tomlin made sure he didn’t end the season with a losing record. The Steelers’ year has been full of ups and downs, but they’re still standing, albeit a little banged up. Mason Rudolph will get the final start of the season. Receiver George Pickens decided to start playing well three weeks ago and running back Najee Harris decided his season started in December… Regardless, the Steelers will have to win against the powerful Ravens. The NFL’s best team humiliated the Miami Dolphins last week by scoring 56 points. However, we sometimes tend to forget it, but Pittsburgh can count on one of the most dangerous defenses on the circuit. Assured of first place in the American, the Ravens will undoubtedly want to rest a few key players. This is why the Steelers will be able to get by in the most important game of their season.
For this last edition of the season, we will be breaking the rules. Hoping that the bosses don’t mind. After long minutes of reflection, it was impossible to decide between two weekend meetings.
The first will be that between the Texans and the Colts. These two teams have three things in common: they play in the same division, they both have a 9-7 record, and a loss in this game would keep them out of the playoffs. Clearly, only the winning team will be part of the big waltz in January. Thanks to quarterback Gardner Minshew, who deserves to occupy a starting position somewhere in the NFL next year, the Colts experienced good progress in the second half of the season. But on the other hand, C. J. Stroud, the offensive rookie of the year, has shone brightly since his sensational entry into the NFL. He should have been chosen first overall instead of Young. Now you just have to know which defense will come up. But because the Texans defense has allowed fewer yards and fewer touchdowns this season, the advantage will go slightly to the Texans’ side. Especially since Stroud seems to be born for big moments.
Then, the other obligatory duel is that between the Bills and the Dolphins. For the Bills, this game is crucial. If they win, they finish first in their division. If they lose and the Steelers and Jaguars win, their season is over. Cruel, right? And above all, it will be an opportunity to see what Josh Allen is really up to. The Bills have been the favorite to win the Super Bowl for the past three years. And that never happened. Allen’s immaturity and decisions have something to do with it. But in a season where they were quickly dismissed, Allen rose from the ashes. Lately, against good teams, he has been dazzling. He has really gained ground, even if he remains imperfect. Most importantly, Allen is a great competitor. Probably more determined than Tua Tagovailoa, who completely crashed last week against the Ravens. The Bills will be a playoff contender. And they should not be taken lightly.