Here is our weekly view at the playoff picture as the season slowly comes down to what should be a great finish. In the AFC, the division winners might all be known by Monday Morning, while the NFC Division leaders might all be known by Monday night. The AFC is struggling to find 6 worthy teams to send to the post season, and the NFC still has 9 or 10 contending. Five games to go! Enjoy!
1. Houston (10-1): Although showing a few cracks in the armor, and dealing with more than few injuries on defense, they will win this division, and probably be the number one seed in the AFC.
2. Denver (8-3): After surviving the hard part of the schedule with a respectable record, they can now coast to a division title.
3. Baltimore (9-2): I still see a few flaws in this team, but if they defeat Pittsburgh this weekend the division is theirs.
4. New England (8-3): Playing what was considered the easiest schedule of the year, they will easily win the East.
5. Indianapolis (7-4): Interesting thing here is they play Houston twice, and Houston has always been the second fiddle. Will the Texans play the game in week 17 at full strength?
6. Cincinnati (6-5): This team has really hit it’s stride at the right moment. Games against San Diego, Dallas, Philly, before finishing with Pittsburgh and Baltimore. They will need to win the next three, or face elimination at the hands of tough division rivals.
7. Pittsburgh (6-5): This all rests on the health of Big Ben. Baltimore, San Diego, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Cleveland remain.
8. Miami (5-6): I throw them in just to get to 8 teams…but the above 7 will fight for the 6 spots.
1. Atlanta (11-1): The Falcons will finally get a home playoff game…let’s see if that helps.
2. San Francisco (8-2-1): Here is another team that ran into a little identity crisis before getting back on track. I think the QB situation needs to be settled quickly before it becomes a distraction.
3. Chicago (8-3): The Bears received a huge boost when the Packers failed to show on Sunday night in New York. Seattle, Minny, Green Bay, Arizona, and Detroit to finish. With three division games left anything can happen, especially with only two remaining home games.
4. New York Giants (7-4): The Giants know how to go on a run when needed. With Seattle, Detroit, Tampa, New Orleans, Dallas, Green Bay, and Minnesota all losing last week they are in a good spot even if the division eludes them somehow.
5. Green Bay: (7-4): Not everyone can rush the passer like the Giants, but anyone who can will be able to give this team trouble. Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago, Tennessee, and Minnesota decides this division and their seeding in the playoffs.
6. Seattle (6-5), Tampa Bay (6-5), Minnesota (6-5): All of these teams had a chance to take a step towards the playoffs or fighting for the division, and they all lost last week, some in horrific fashion. The division is now out of reach for all of them, and they will fight each other and themselves down the stretch.
9. Washington (5-6): The Redskins have one realistic shot….beat the Giants for the division. After the upcoming Monday affair they have Baltimore, Cleveland, Philly, and Dallas. I’m not sure they can jump all three teams ahead of them to get a wild card spot, but stranger things have happened.
10. Dallas (5-6) New Orleans (5-7): Many are predicting that these teams still have a shot, but again both teams lost big games last week.
Six teams for one spot will be exciting and exactly what the league wants heading into December.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @tufdan