NFL Playoff Picture


There's just two weeks left in the NFL season, and after another crazy weekend, the playoff picture is becoming clearer, but still in flux. Here's a look at the conferences and some fearless predictions about who'll be in the fray.

NFC:
Division Leaders:                                                                   Contenders:
West — Arizona Cardinals (11-3)                                           Seattle Seahawks (10-4)
North — Detroit Lions (10-4)                                                 Green Bay Packers (10-4)
South — Carolina Panthers (5-8-1)                                         Philadelphia Eagles (9-5)
East — Dallas Cowboys (10-4)                                               New Orleans Saints (5-8)
                                                                                                 Atlanta Falcons (5-9)

The picture in the NFC is more clear in terms of the teams likely to make the playoffs, but the seeding is very much up in the air. The Green Bay Packers were in the driver's seat, until losing to Buffalo. Now the Cowboys and Seahawks appear to be in the pole position for NFC byes if everyone wins out. And the Week 17 showdown between Detroit and Green Bay will be for the division. In the South, the Carolina Panthers could be in if they win out and the Saints lose even one game (which might happen tonight).

Predictions:
1. Seattle Seahawks (West Champs, 12-4)
2. Detroit Lions (North Champs, 12-4)
3. Dallas Cowboys (East Champs, 12-4)
4. Carolina Panthers (South Champs, 7-8-1)
5. Arizona Cardinals (Wild Card, 11-5)
6. Green Bay Packers (Wild Card, 11-5)

AFC:
Division Leaders:                                                             Contenders:
West — Denver Broncos (11-3)                                        Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
North — Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1)                                 Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
South — Indianapolis Colts (10-4)                                    Buffalo Bills (8-6)
East — New England Patriots (11-3)                                San Diego Chargers (8-6)
                                                                                          Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)

The picture in the AFC is more clear in terms of division champions. While no divisions have crowned a champion in the NFC, in the AFC the West, East, and South have been won. But a lot of seeding is still up in the air. In addition to the contenders listed, an additional three AFC teams are currently 7-7. But since I think it will take at least 10 wins to be a Wild Card in the AFC, I have eliminated the Dolphins, Browns, and Texans from the playoff picture. Plus, based on yesterday, I think the Browns and Texans (who lost their second quarterback for the year) will struggle to win any more games.

Predictions:
1. Denver Broncos (West Champs, 13-3)
2. New England Patriots (East Champs, 12-4)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (North Champs, 11-5)
4. Indianpolis Colts (South Champs, 11-5)
5. Baltimore Ravens (Wild Card, 11-5)
6. Buffalo Bills (Wild Card, 10-6)

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