NFL Storylines Week 15: #StarWars Edition

The NFL season heads into its 15th week and at this point, teams are either playing for draft picks, a spot in the playoffs, or home-field in the playoffs. Here is how I see some of the biggest NFL storylines panning out, as compared to characters and movies of the Star Wars franchise:

What to Expect in The Return of Aaron Rodgers (the NFL’s Luke Skywalker)

Aaron Rodgers, the best quarterback in the NFL (yes, he is better than Brady), comes back off of a 9-week layoff from a collarbone injury he suffered in a Week 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Since his injury, the Packers have gone 3-4, and the Vikings have only lost 1 game. The Packers this week go to work in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers, a team that currently holds the 5th seed in the NFC, but a loss could cost them a playoff spot. Now, you may be wondering, what do I expect out of Aaron Rodgers? I didn’t write a blog post about this, yet my preseason Super Bowl prediction was Packers-Steelers, with the Packers winning. My prediction has stayed the same, and the return of Rodgers, with all of the odds against him, gives me even more confidence as to what the Packers can do. In 2013, Rodgers had injured his collarbone and came back for Week 17 against the Chicago Bears. The winner of the game would go to the playoffs, and Rodgers won the game on a 4th and 8 with 46 seconds to go by throwing the game-winning TD to Randall Cobb. In 2014, after the team started 1-2 and people counted the Packers out, Rodgers had the famous R-E-L-A-X press conference, and the team ended up going 11-5 and were 1 game away from the Super Bowl. I expect Rodgers to work his late-season magic and lead the Pack to the playoffs, and to the Super Bowl. The force is strongest with Rodgers when they need it most.

A New Hope for Philly?

Carson Wentz was not just the possible MVP QB of the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was the man the city rallied around. He had done so much in supporting the city, especially through the AO1 Foundation, that he became a savior for the city of Philadelphia. Their dream season with Super Bowl hopes looked like it would become a reality, but Wentz’s ACL injury last week ended most hopes of that (by the way, my best wishes and prayers are out to Carson in hopes that he has a speedy recovery and comes back better than ever next season). Now, go back to the previous sentence where I said ‘most hopes’ are gone and not all. Yes, the Eagles have hope, ‘A New Hope’, as Star Wars fans would like to say. Nick Foles replaced Michael Vick in 2013 after his injury, and threw 27 TDs-2 INTs, won the NFC East, and became a Pro Bowler in that season. Now, I am not saying that you should expect Foles to play at that high a level, but to say that the Eagles have no chance at a Super Bowl is not right. I see NFC Championship Game for sure, but Super Bowl is unlikely. Don’t count out Foles.

The Steelers Killer B’s

The Killer B’s, Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and yes, even kicker Chris Boswell, are orchestrating a season similar to the way Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca fought their way to victory against Darth Vader and the Emperor in ‘Return of the Jedi’, as The Killer B’s have led the Pittsburgh Steelers to an 11-2 season so far. This has led them to first place in the AFC, and nothing but smiles on the faces of them and all those in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh now goes faces their biggest test, ‘The Dark Side’ of the AFC, the New England Patriots, who are 10-3 after their suspect loss to the Miami Dolphins Monday night. Now, of course, this game not only will determine who will get home-field advantage, but the winner of this game will probably win the AFC and go the Super Bowl. After watching the stagnant and lethargic Pats offense, and the confused Pats defense, I have supreme confidence in Pittsburgh, especially since the game is in their house.

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NFL Conference Championship Weekend

This is the weekend where teams will receive a ticket to MetLife Stadium for the Super Ice Bowl. Here are the predictions for who wins and who goes home.

 New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos; 3:00PM EST

The Pats historical run without rook WR Aaron Dobson and star TE Rob Gronkowski has highlighted a team for the ages, with big plays from WR Julian Edelman and RB LaGarrette Blount. The Broncos got away with a huge game, with a 24-17 over the San Diego Chargers. The Patriots will go to MetLife Stadium. Final Score: 26-23, Patriots.

San Fransisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks; 6:30PM EST

The 49ers came away with huge wins over the Green Bay Packers, 23-20, and the Carolina Panthers, 27-10. The Seahawks survived after the the New Orleans Saints huge comeback, winning 23-15. The 49ers and Patriots will meet in a Clash of Clans at MetLife. Final Score: 30-23, 49ers.

The AFC Playoff Predictions: After Week 17

The AFC has had many surprises which you won’t even believe would have happened even before the season started. Here is what I think will happen after Week 17.

Number 1: Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are winners of 11 straight games. They are led by 4-time MVP Peyton Manning. Another key part of their success has been Eric Decker becoming Manning’s favorite target, and Von Miller and Co. getting some big stops on D. There is no one stopping ‘em now. Though, they will lose in the Divisional Round to the Colts 34-31.

Number 2: New England Patriots

The Patriots had a strong offseason after losing the Super Bowl, making Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley great replacements for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They also got former Pat Jabar Gaffney, and Brandon Lloyd, who have had great seasons. They will lose to the Colts in the Divisional Round 31-29.

Number 3: Houston Texans

Houston has had the best season ever as a team. Arian Foster has improved, and Matt Schaub has played better than ever. On the D, JJ Watt is having a MVP-caliber season. This combo of offense and defense has made the Texans the most dangerous team in the NFL. They will lose to the Bengals in the Wild Card Round 31-10.

Number 4: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were the number 2 seed, then lost to the Steelers in OT 23-20, and the Redskins in OT 31-28. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are aging, and Lewis is injured. Terrell Suggs hasn’t been able to lead the team on a struggling D, though Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb is a shut-down corner. Joe Flacco has had an all-over-the-place-styled-season. Ray Rice had carried this team to some big wins early in the season. They will lose to the Colts in the Wild Card Round 44-20.

Number 5: Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck has made the Colts forget about Peyton Manning, and also, he is playing just like Manning, leading his team to huge come-from-behind wins in the 4th quarter. Rookie Wide Receivers T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery have had spectacular seasons. Reggie Wayne had been criticized and many said he was to old to lead the team and play as Andrew Luck’s go-to guy, though he changed that this season. Former Baltimore Ravens Defensive End Corey Redding was signed to a $10.5 million dollar contract, and Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have had some great seasons leading this always-brilliant D. They will make it to the Super Bowl, though lose 38-26.

Number 6: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were the 6th seed last year, and will repeat that same result. Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and AJ Green have had great seasons. They will lose in the Divisional Round to the Broncos 38-33.