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NFL morning after: Filling in the playoff picture

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Ten NFL Sundays down and seven to go, and I know who’s making the playoffs.

OK, I might be wrong about a few, and in seven weeks you might remind me of this column and point out all the places where I was wrong and make me eat my words. But I actually think that as you go through the NFL standings right now, you can get a pretty accurate picture of how the final standings are going to look seven weeks from now. Let’s go through it:

NFC East: Dallas. Despite Sunday night’s massacre in New Orleans, I still favor the 5-5 Cowboys over the 5-5 Eagles, largely because the Cowboys have already won at Philadelphia. The Cowboys and Eagles meet in Week 17 in Dallas, and I think the Cowboys will complete the season sweep and seal the division title on the last day of the season.

NFC North: Detroit. The Lions’ win over the Bears gives Detroit a one-game lead, and considering how easy the Lions’ schedule is, plus the fact that the Packers are down to Scott Tolzien at quarterback, we can pencil in the Lions to win the North.

NFC South: New Orleans. The 7-2 Saints, whose offense looked amazing on Sunday night in Dallas, will hold off the 6-3 Panthers.

NFC West: Seattle. After San Francisco lost to Carolina on Sunday, the Seahawks have a two-game lead over the 49ers, and Seattle has a head-to-head win over San Francisco as well. This is Seattle’s division.

NFC wild cards: Carolina and San Francisco. The 49ers and Panthers are currently a game ahead of the pack at 6-3, and I’ll be shocked if they don’t end up as the two NFC wild card teams. The 5-4 Bears, Packers and Cardinals are all in the mix, as are the 5-5 Eagles, but the Panthers and 49ers are pretty clearly the two best in the wild card chase.

AFC East: New England. The Patriots lead the Jets by two games in the standings and will win this division for an amazing 11th time in Tom Brady’s 12 years as their starting quarterback.

AFC North: Cincinnati. The Bengals missed a golden opportunity to put the division away on Sunday in Baltimore, but they’re still a game and a half ahead, and they’re going to win this division.

AFC South: Indianapolis. The Colts looked terrible against the Rams on Sunday, but Indianapolis is still two games ahead of Tennessee, and Houston and Jacksonville have no shot. It’s the Colts by default.

AFC West: Denver. This is the only division that I don’t think the current first-place team will win. I expect the 8-1 Broncos to sweep the 9-0 Chiefs, winning this week in Denver and then winning in Kansas City in Week 13, and Denver will win this division.

AFC wild cards: Kansas City and New York Jets. The second-place team in the AFC West will be the top wild card team, so let’s pencil the Chiefs in for that spot. The biggest question mark on the board is the sixth and final AFC playoff spot: As of right now the Jets would get it, and I think they’ll hold onto it holding off the Dolphins, Chargers, Browns, Ravens and Titans.

A lot can change in the next seven weeks, especially if a key player is injured. (It’s worth noting that before Aaron Rodgers went down, I thought the Packers had a very good chance of getting to the Super Bowl, and now I’m picking them to miss the playoffs.) But I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ve got this whole playoff picture figured out. Here are the rest of my observations from Sunday:

Another terrible game for Trent Richardson. With five carries for two yards in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, Richardson now has 88 carries for 250 yards, an average of 2.8 yards a carry, in seven games as a Colt. It’s looking more and more like the Browns fleeced the Colts when Indianapolis shipped a first-round draft pick to Cleveland in the Richardson trade.

Another terrible game for Ray Rice, too. Rice had 18 carries for 30 yards in the Ravens’ win over the Bengals on Sunday. He’s now averaging 2.5 yards a carry this season. That’s a stunningly bad average for a three-time Pro Bowler who had never averaged less than 4.0 yards a carry in any season of his career before. Rice has no room to run behind a terrible Baltimore offensive line.

The Seahawks’ secondary is sensational against tight ends. One of the things that really stands out when you watch Seattle is the way strong safety Kam Chancellor and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner cover tight ends. On Sunday Seattle played one of the best tight ends in the league, Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, and totally kept him in check: Gonzalez didn’t catch his first pass until it was basically garbage time, with the score 26-3 Seattle in the third quarter, and Gonzalez finished the day with just three catches for 29 yards.

Clay Matthews looked like Art Jimmerson at UFC 1. Matthews is playing with a massive club on his broken right hand. He’s a tough guy for wanting to be out there, but he looked like he was struggling and had a quiet day in the Packers’ loss.

That’s the Tavon Austin the Rams thought they were drafting. Through the first nine weeks of the season, Austin looked like one of the NFL’s more disappointing rookies, averaging just 6.7 yards a catch. On Sunday, Austin had touchdown catches of 81 and 57 yards and threw in a 98-yard touchdown on a punt return as well. I still have my doubts that Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is the right guy to find ways to get Austin the ball in space consistently, and it’s worth pointing out that Schottenheimer only called four plays for Austin (three passes, one run) all game on Sunday. But there’s no doubt that Austin has game-breaking talent.

Welcome back, Jake Ballard. It was nice to see Ballard catch a pass for the Cardinals on Sunday in his first live game action since the Super Bowl almost two years ago. As the Giants’ starting tight end in that Super Bowl, Ballard suffered a major knee injury in the game and hadn’t been able to get all the way back to 100 percent healthy for more than a year. Both the Giants and the Patriots released Ballard, but he signed with the Cardinals last week and is already contributing to the offense.

Giovani Bernard has some learning to do. Bernard, the Bengals’ rookie running back, is a superb young talent who’s a threat to break off a long gain every time he touches the ball. But he needs to learn that there are times when you just need to lower your shoulders and run straight ahead, and one of those times is when you get the ball on fourth-and-2 in overtime. Bernard tried to dance around after catching a swing pass from Andy Dalton, and he ended up losing 11 yards. Those 11 yards helped the Ravens greatly when they won the game with a 46-yard field goal on the next possession.

What happened to Colin Kaepernick? The 49ers’ quarterback was awful against the Panthers on Sunday. Since throwing for 412 yards in Week One, he’s only reached 200 passing yards once. On Sunday he completed 11 of 22 passes for 91 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception.

Did the Jaguars just cost themselves the No. 1 pick? It’s nice that Jacksonville won a game and assured itself of avoiding the fate of the 0-16 Lions of 2008. But did the Jags cost themselves the chance to draft their franchise quarterback of the future (maybe Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater) with the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft? Actually, I don’t think so. Looking at the rest of the schedule, I think there’s still a good chance the Jags will finish 1-15. And while the Buccaneers are currently winless, they have a few winnable games the rest of the way and should finish more like 2-14 or 3-13. The Jaguars are so far out of the playoff race that they can’t even see the leaders, but they’re still in the pole position in the race for the No. 1 overall pick.

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92 Responses to “NFL morning after: Filling in the playoff picture”
  1. cuda1234 says: Nov 11, 2013 6:36 AM

    Kapernick was never that good, just a product of the media who got infatuated with him and tried to make him a star.

  2. arwiv says: Nov 11, 2013 6:51 AM

    Dallas is disgustingly bad at this point. It wouldn’t surprise me if even my lowly Giants won that division. If I had to pick a favorite at this point though, it would be the Nick Foles led Eagles, not the Cowboys. Book it now….Garrett and Shanahan will be fired after this season. If the Giants don’t have a miracle run, Id like to see Coughlin step down. The only guy who will definitely be back in 2014 is Chip Kelly.

  3. jjb0811 says: Nov 11, 2013 6:54 AM

    you forgot to list the GM’s and coaches who will be tossed aside in January.
    1. Maimi
    2. TB Bucs
    3. Minny needs a new coach
    4. Houston needs a change at either position, probably coach
    5. Tenn needs new direction. The only team that constantly loses to all defeated teams.
    6. Dallas needs a new GM but that’ll never happen their current GM loves being .500 as his records has been for over a decade.

  4. sasquatch77 says: Nov 11, 2013 6:57 AM

    Die hard Bronco fan here, and even I’m not counting on a sweep of the Chiefs at this point. I was, up until the final 1:45 of the Chargers game. Then I saw Peyton limping around like a dude with a hairline ankle fracture.

    Are there any Bronco fans out there that weren’t chilled to the bone by that post-game press conference where Peyton said he was “sore, real sore”. It didn’t have that nonchalant delivery of a player who knows for a fact that he’ll be fine come Wednesday.

  5. wryly1 says: Nov 11, 2013 7:02 AM

    Largely agree that’s the way things are likely to shake out, with one notable exception. Do the Bengals really look like a playoff bound team? Dalton is okay when he’s good and absolutely awful when he’s bad. Granted there’s mediocre football being played by AFC North teams, but Bengals haven’t yet shown they can beat any of them.

  6. trbowman says: Nov 11, 2013 7:05 AM

    Remember when folks ripped Jim Brown for calling Richardson “ordinary” ?

  7. gmsalpha says: Nov 11, 2013 7:08 AM

    It’s kind of funny to ask if Jacksonville cost themselves a chance at the first overall pick when you bring up their need at QB with TWO guys in Bridgewater and Mariota.

    Who cares if they get the first pick? If they have their eye on two guys, they should only care about remaining in the top two.

    I tend to think given time to build some chemistry with Nick Foles, the Eagles will get into the playoffs. That offense is really clicking now, and Riley Cooper has definitely become a major factor with the new QB (though it seems like he gets lucky a lot with the cornerback falling down). So I give the Eagles the edge over the Cowboys in the NFC.

    I also wonder about Kaepernick. I don’t get to watch many 49ers games, but I’m starting to wonder how good he really is, and how much is media-driven. I don’t feel like he’s a gimmicky quarterback, but perhaps he was simply the beneficiary of an excellent group of offensive weapons and linemen. I’ll be paying more attention.

    Ireland in Miami has got to go!! He’s already overstayed his welcome by several years.

    Greg Schiano has go to to go!!

    I am really excited to see the Broncos/Chiefs games. The Chiefs feel like first-round playoffs losers to me. Maybe they’re just boring. But I don’t see them being a serious threat.

  8. trbowman says: Nov 11, 2013 7:08 AM

    “Do the Bengals really look like a playoff bound team?”

    Does any other team in that division?

    That defense is still elite. Dalton will always cap that teams upside as a contender though. Struggles against strong defenses.

  9. thejabronisayz says: Nov 11, 2013 7:10 AM

    People keep saying that Tavon Austin’s season has been a disappointment. While I personally think he has not lived up to the lofty expectations set for him, what people don’t seem to understand is that Schottenheimer simply doesn’t use him. Besides punt returns, Austin is barely on the field for offensive plays, as evidenced by the fact that as you said, he only had four plays called his way. However, before this week, I know of at least two other TDs that he had called back due to penalties (punt return vs Dallas and touchdown catch vs Carolina), not to mention other long punt returns called back. Overall, I don’t think the problem is Austin as much as the problem is Schottenheimer failing to utilize him properly.

  10. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 11, 2013 7:21 AM

    I TOLD YA….

    Get Andy Dalton REAL #2 and #3 wide receivers.

    Marvin Jones = 1 rec. – 2 yards

    Mohamed Sanu = 3 rec. – 26 yards

  11. giantsfanlewis says: Nov 11, 2013 7:27 AM

    What happened to kap? People need to stop judging qbs on a few game sample is what happened to kap.

  12. arwiv says: Nov 11, 2013 7:31 AM

    As far as coaches on the hot seat, as someone above mentioned:

    Philbin (unless they make the playoffs)
    Tomlin
    Kubiak
    Munchak
    Coughlin
    Shanahan
    Garrett
    Schiano
    Frazier

    honorable mention: Jim Schwartz (if the lions tank he needs to get the axe)

    I bet 6 of those 10 are fired after this season.

  13. kwgator says: Nov 11, 2013 7:34 AM

    At least the Kaepernick Family has made $2.38 of the “Kaepernicking” Trademark

  14. Patriot42 says: Nov 11, 2013 7:47 AM

    Your fan favorite teams are showing through. You like many feel it is your duty to put the Cowboys on top of the heap.

  15. joeflaccosunibrow says: Nov 11, 2013 7:56 AM

    I might be a homer, but until Cincinnati does something, I cannot count them in.

  16. broncsfan72 says: Nov 11, 2013 7:56 AM

    Yeah if Manning can go I see a split between home games with the Chiefs. If Manning can’t the Broncs get swept. It’s so hard to play in Kc. Unless you’ve been there it’s hard to believe. You can’t even hear yourself scream. it’s that loud. Never count your chickens…..

  17. joetoronto says: Nov 11, 2013 7:58 AM

    The Bungals???

    No way, the only game they might win going forward is the Dec.22nd game against the Vikings.

    This is the Browns division, watch.

  18. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Nov 11, 2013 8:00 AM

    Actually the Saints played in N.O. not Dallas.

    The NFC east is on a silver platter for Dallas but they will find a way to choke it.

    If Seatlle has home field in the playoffs, they are headed to the super bowl.

    AFC south is about as bad as the NFC east. May be worse.

  19. jbeagles23 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:05 AM

    Kap was being called a superstar way too soon. Remember before Alex smith was hurt people were whispering MVP that 2012 offence was hot and he took for lucky to take over. Watching him not he doesn’t look like a franchise qb

  20. oriolesvsravens says: Nov 11, 2013 8:07 AM

    The Ravens o-line didn’t help Rice but there were times when you could see something in Rice’s footwork that didn’t look like the Rice of old. He looked slow and indecisive when behind the line and in space. Pierce had better gains but still an overall poor performance for the running game. I feel bad for this defense who played well against the bad Andy Dalton. This game should have been a dominant win if Flacco played better, even with the bad running game.

  21. vysethelegend says: Nov 11, 2013 8:08 AM

    The only reason Brian Schottenheimer is in the NFL is because of his dad. The guy is and always will be an awful coach.

  22. PeterKingLovesCoqAVin says: Nov 11, 2013 8:09 AM

    So, basically, “I think the teams with the best records right now will make the playoffs.” Strong take.

  23. franklinstking says: Nov 11, 2013 8:10 AM

    Don’t pencil in Cincy for anything, The division is Cleveland’s to lose.

  24. wimperd says: Nov 11, 2013 8:12 AM

    I think your predictions are spot on except I would say the Chargers make it in favor of the Jets.

  25. cags777 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:13 AM

    You seriously thought the Packers were a Super Bowl team? Did you ever watch their defense at all this season? They give up WAY too many points per game. That is not acceptable and they never should have been considered a Super Bowl team.

  26. maurysline says: Nov 11, 2013 8:14 AM

    As far as coaches on the hot seat, as someone above mentioned:

    Philbin (unless they make the playoffs)
    Tomlin
    Kubiak
    Munchak
    Coughlin
    Shanahan
    Garrett
    Schiano
    Frazier
    —————————————

    Take Tomlin and Coughlin off that list. Neither will be fired for one bad season. Not the way those organizations are run. They both will be given at least one more year despite of whatever happens this season.

  27. thebirdofprey2 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:20 AM

    Tebowing and Kapernicking always struck me as being similar but I Tebow could muster up more than 46 net passing yards in a game.

    I remember thinking Jim Brown was being bitter when he was talking bad of Trent Richardson, man was I wrong. That new first round pick for next year might turn into something for the Browns.

    NFC Least should not be sending any teams to the playoffs this year.

  28. packeranddarien says: Nov 11, 2013 8:20 AM

    NFC East: Dallas. Despite Sunday night’s massacre in New Orleans, I still favor the 5-5 Cowboys over the 5-5 Eagles, largely because the Cowboys have already won at Philadelphia. The Cowboys and Eagles meet in Week 17 in Dallas, and I think the Cowboys will complete the season sweep and seal the division title on the last day of the season.

    MDS, (aka Makes no Damn Sense)

    What makes you think that Tony Romo will win a win-and-in final game, when he’s crapped the bed in has last FOUR TRIES and THREE of them vs the Eagles, TWO of them at home?

    Dude, what are you smoking? That team is toast. The OL is in shambles. The secondary is rancid .

    It’s just a matter of when that infant Bryant has another outburst on the sideline like a petulant child to confirm what we already know.

    Get a clue, bra.

  29. hodag54501 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:21 AM

    Somewhere in the media I wish at least one person would realize professional sports franchises don’t tank seasons to get a top draft pick.
    Coach: “Remember men, even though you are paid millions of dollars to do your job, for the rest of the season we want you to purposely screw up so we can get the top draft pick”.
    Players and assistant coaches:” Sounds good to us, coach”.

    A team with a payroll of more than $100 million dollars, all the marketing plus other jobs dependent on the organization and they purposely throw it all away to get a draft pick? There is absolutely no guarantee ANY draft pick will pan out, so you disgrace your organization so you can draft one guy?
    That is what this writer and dozens of others say across a season. It is so absurd that it’s laughable, but the more they say and write it, it gets out there as a real option. IT ISN’T. The Jaguars players go out there to win. They don’t want to lose. They are getting paid to do their jobs. By tanking, those players could LOSE THEIR JOBS.

    Why are so many people in the media so damn dumb?

  30. packeranddarien says: Nov 11, 2013 8:25 AM

    Its obvious he’s a myopic Cowboys drone.

    Dallas? Yeah, they really look like a team coming together down the stretch and the Eagles don’t….

    Really?

    They will be LUCKY to beat the Giants after the bye.

  31. dexterismyhero says: Nov 11, 2013 8:26 AM

    If anybody takes Bridgewater or Mariota at 1 or 2, they will be sorely disappointed.

  32. northshorejag says: Nov 11, 2013 8:28 AM

    On Jax and the first pick in the draft:

    “You play to win game”

    And who knows what will happen between now and April. Play to win. Period.

  33. packeranddarien says: Nov 11, 2013 8:31 AM

    I don’t think the problem is Austin as much as the problem is Schottenheimer failing to utilize him properly.

    Or maybe the player actually has to earn his playing time by actually knowing what he’s supposed to be doing out there. Everyone thinks just because he’s fast, he should be starting. Sorry, just doesn’t work that way. Fisher doesn’t coddle those kind of players. See Young, Vince.

    I mean, look who is starting in front of him. Don’t you think there COULD be some accountability of the player by what he shows the coaches in practice?

    Even the punt return was a poor decision masked by unbelievable athletic talent.

  34. bleedgreen says: Nov 11, 2013 8:32 AM

    Kaepernick wasn’t ever that good in the first place. He replaced a top 3 QB (at the time) and kept the offense rolling. Alex Smith was lighting it up without running, so it opened up a bunch of holes for Kap. I wonder how much longer Harbaugh is going to feel like a genius for trading Smith instead of Kap.

  35. jmac1013 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:33 AM

    gmsalpha says:
    Nov 11, 2013 7:08 AM
    It’s kind of funny to ask if Jacksonville cost themselves a chance at the first overall pick when you bring up their need at QB with TWO guys in Bridgewater and Mariota.
    =========================
    How’d that work out for San Diego in the Manning/Leaf draft?

    You always want to be in control of your own destiny.

  36. bigbenownsthenfl says: Nov 11, 2013 8:35 AM

    Tomlin is going nowhere. He is owed 14 million on his contract and that is guaranteed money. And that is not how the steelers organization Works. Hence 3 coaches in 30 years!

  37. askingwater says: Nov 11, 2013 8:35 AM

    MDS you are on point with this one…this is one of the most predictable and boring NFL seasons I can ever remember, and I remember the last 35. Teams are winning divisions by default, and the probable wild-card teams are so limited that it’s a joke (The Jets? Really? And even the Chiefs who may go classic Chiefs and be one and done in the post season). Wake me up around 3 p.m Eastern time for the Conference Championship games, January 19.

  38. bigjimatch says: Nov 11, 2013 8:37 AM

    Off topic, but has any one else noted that all of the Jet’s anonymous player reports have disappeared at the same time Revis did? Coincidence?

  39. dxa5053 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:42 AM

    Kaepernick was hyped so much by the media due to not even a full season of play. his bad games will soon out weigh his good but the media will make excuses for him

  40. gjperch says: Nov 11, 2013 8:55 AM

    Agree, Broncos are on sketchy ground. Even if Peyton doesn’t have a fracture, he’ll be even less mobile.

    However, the Chiefs are also on sketchy ground. Yes, they are undefeated, and as a Broncos fan, I’m worried, but I just think once they lose their first game, they’ll suddenly look human again and lose a few more after that.

    I never understood the Trent Richardson trade (maybe for a 3rd rounder, but certainly not a first rounder). I can only guess that the Colts figured he’d suddenly be a stud with a good QB to take some of the heat off him. Instead, he’s somehow regressed.

  41. tpa43 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:59 AM

    The Bucs are the only team in professional sports that have not won a game this year! Time for the Glazers to sell the team to a respected new owner.

  42. shogunassasin30 says: Nov 11, 2013 9:01 AM

    sasquatch77 says:
    Nov 11, 2013 6:57 AM
    Die hard Bronco fan here, and even I’m not counting on a sweep of the Chiefs at this point. I was, up until the final 1:45 of the Chargers game. Then I saw Peyton limping around like a dude with a hairline ankle fracture.

    Are there any Bronco fans out there that weren’t chilled to the bone by that post-game press conference where Peyton said he was “sore, real sore”. It didn’t have that nonchalant delivery of a player who knows for a fact that he’ll be fine come Wednesday.

    ____________________________

    I don’t disagree at all man. Tom Jackson may be right – Peyton “probably” should sit out a few and get healthy. Breaking every record in the world would be great and all, but at the end of the day let’s just get in to the post season and see what happens. As Bronco fans I’d rather take some losses down the stretch and have Peyton out the rest of the year by making his injuries worse. Losing homefield stinks but Denver had to go in to KC and in to old 3 rivers stadium for the AFC championship game for their first superbowl run. Doesn’t matter where they play at the end of the day if you’re talented enough

  43. stevincinci says: Nov 11, 2013 9:02 AM

    Terrible play call on 4th and 2 by Bengals OC Gruden. You don’t call a swing pass on a play like that. Pass the ball forwards. Not necessarily Bernards fault he didn’t have anywhere to run.

  44. ac540 says: Nov 11, 2013 9:02 AM

    They’re still the Bengals…They’re not winning anything with the red headed Matt Schaub. Does anyone trust any of those AFC wild card “contenders” other than the AFC West team?

    The Champs are lying in the weeds…

  45. bengalguy says: Nov 11, 2013 9:03 AM

    Lol. Everyone so QUICK to hammer away @ Dalton. My god , give it a rest. He played in Baltimore ( VERY tough place to play) against a solid Defense with a swirling wind all day. Dalton is a fine QB. ( lets not forget, he was offensive player of the month for October)
    If it’s not his arm, then it’s his hair, if it’s not his hair then it ‘s his toughness, if it’s not his toughness then its his smarts…….on & on & on……give it a rest, dude wins plain & simple, he has a 87% QB career rating, he’s been to the playoffs twice & will be there again this year. When other QBs have bad days they get a free pass…..when Dalton gets one everyone gets all crazy. Lol. Cincinnati is a good team w/ 53 GOOD players. Isn’t thst how it’s supposed to be ?
    And besides……@ what point are we going to start saying that Flacco. & Kapernick are holding they’re great defensive teams back???? Looking @ what Kap has done this year, shouldn’t he start getting grilled?????

  46. panthers34 says: Nov 11, 2013 9:46 AM

    While the bottom could fall out of our receiving corps at any moment I feel good about the Panthers at least getting the last Wild Card. This game was huge since we already lost a tiebreak to the Cardinals. If we beat the Patriots its just gravy, after them we have Miami and Tampa Bay.

  47. salsendardo says: Nov 11, 2013 9:48 AM

    If the Browns beat the Bengals and the Ravens beat the slumping Bears its going to be a 3 team race until the end. Anointing the Bengals the division winner when they have 3 division games left and a 1.5 game lead is a little premature.

  48. gooboy6 says: Nov 11, 2013 9:49 AM

    No way Chiefs lose to Broncos at Arrowhead in 3 weeks…Chiefs will get their first loss this Sunday though, we always lose in Denver

  49. bkh405 says: Nov 11, 2013 10:09 AM

    It’s a damn shame that the loss of Bradford coincided with Zac Stacy’s breakout. If the Rams had Bradford under center with the running game they have rolling right now, they certainly have a shot at winning that Seattle game and Tennessee would have been a victory.

    I guess STL fans will just have to be happy playing spoiler to the likes of ‘Zona and San Fran.

    Also, big ups to you geniuses in DC. I know I’m going to enjoy whatever player the Rams select in the top 5 with your pick. Maybe they’ll run a play action fake to the podium in April and bring Jake Matthews a burgundy and gold jersey, then throw it in the garbage and give him the real deal Blue and Gold.

  50. 12thmanseattle says: Nov 11, 2013 10:17 AM

    I actually think these are pretty spot on with the exception of 2 teams.. I think the chargers have a decent shot at taking that 2nd wild card when it’s all said and done.. And looking at San Fran’s schedule especially the next 3 weeks with 2 of those against New Orleans and Seattle I think there’s a very good chance they end up barely missing the playoffs to a team like Dallas or chicago

  51. jackblackshairyback says: Nov 11, 2013 10:19 AM

    As long as the Browns are able to keep Brandon Weeden on the sideline, they could make both the wild card race and the AFCN race very interesting. With a win upcoming against Cincy, they would be 1/2 game back of the Bengals, and own the tiebreaker over them. They currently own the tiebreaker over the Ravens because of division record.

  52. mobuccsfan says: Nov 11, 2013 10:37 AM

    I do think the Browns are players in this–probably not going far if they make the playoffs but they have a shot to get there.

    I think Carolina can actually win the South and NO be the Wild card. I think their defense against NO will actually be too much and not the other way around–Brees won’t get as much time to get the ball to all of those weapons against that front seven and to lose twice to CAR–and assuming CAR keeps winning games they are supposed to–would easily make them the champs in the South.

    I think the Eagles might be leary of the G-men. They (G-Men) still aren’t playing at their level but they have the “we’ve been here” before factor having to win a bunch down the stretch to get in–and once a team gets in, as they showed, anything is possible. I can see Dallas losing some more games like yesterday–especially is Sean Lee is out for a long time. Ware still isn’t there, you could see it watching it. He could easily get re-injured; no true running game and inconsistent and one freak injury to Romo, and the team could be really done. I don’t think it is a stretch to be between the Iggles and G-men at the end.

    I do think the NFCN is the Lions to lose and they control their own destiny–as long as Bush, Stafford and Megatron stay healthy and the defense can keep improving.

    The colts will still win south by default–think Titans could challenge some but too many injuries for them, noticeably Locker.

    I never thought I’d say this but I wouldn’t rule out the Jets just yet in the East–crazier things have happened. I definitely see them as a potential wild card.

    I agree the Donks win the west and the Chiefs take a WC and first round loss. If the Jets should implode and Titans don’t do anything and if *( know, lots of ifs) if the AFCN only has the division winner standing at the end, I could very well see Donks win division, Chiefs and Chargers as WC teams.

    NFC West–I seriously think if AZ’s offense can stay consistent and cut down on turnovers–they are the biggest threat to Seattle–and not the 49ers this year. Kapernick just isn’t the same as last season and their running game and defense doesn’t look the same either. AZs defense is pretty nasty and could keep them in the chase all season–if nothing else to be a WC team.

  53. tedmurph says: Nov 11, 2013 10:48 AM

    It’s nice that the Browns seem to have finally turned things around, but I don’t see how anyone can look at their schedule and see more than 8 wins. Cincy has a nice roster, excellent D(even without Atkins) and although Dalton isn’t top 10 material(prob more mid-pack), he’s plenty good enough to go 10-6 and get to the playoffs. Whether he’s good enough to win when he gets there is another story.

  54. weepingjebus says: Nov 11, 2013 10:52 AM

    “will win this division for an amazing 11th time in Tom Brady’s 12 years as their starting quarterback.”

    But…he’s still a washed-up system QB, right fantasy sports world? Newsflash: Brady will play however long he wants to until deciding to finally let the rest of the AFC East out of the woodshed in order to go retire on a billion dollar island with his supermodel wife. ‘Murica.

  55. MyTeamsAllStink says: Nov 11, 2013 10:55 AM

    Terrelle Pryor would be an outstanding WR or tight end.He is NOT an NFL QB

  56. natepalmer1 says: Nov 11, 2013 11:02 AM

    The Seattle Seahawks are clearly the top team in the NFC, and possibly the team to beat in the NFL…Outside of their loss in Indy, they have proven to be warriors on the road and at home…The Saints travel to Seattle for a Monday night showdown, and then a Frisco home game, and it looks like a no. 1 seed and homefield advantage…Good luck to any NFC team playing at the Clink during the playoffs…They’ll need it…

  57. shlort says: Nov 11, 2013 11:13 AM

    Don’t count Green Bay out at this point. With 4 losses, they have a legitimate chance of winning, and here is why.

    I watched Tolzien play pretty well for a guy that didn’t take a rep in practice and never tossed a fooball in a regular season NFL game. Bottom line is that Tolzien fits the system and could do as well as Flynn did in his couple games of fame. It’s not like the Packers are going up against the Broncos, Saints and Seahawks the next 3 weeks. They have the Giants, Vikings and Lions coming up. If they take 2 of those games (Giant and Vikings would be most probable for the 2 wins), and Rodgers comes back after the Lions game, look for GB to take the North.

  58. jayniner says: Nov 11, 2013 11:14 AM

    What happened to Colin Kaepernick?

    It’s pretty simple. He’s not comfortable in the pocket. His first reaction is to watch the pocket around him collapse and look for a way out. He’s more comfortable scrambling out of the pocket and either throwing on the run or running it himself. That’s why he did so well last year — Harbaugh let him do it. If it weren’t for our defense and Frank Gore, we’d be fighting for a first round draft pick next year.

    3-step drop and pass Kap…

    Trust your line.

  59. blakeden says: Nov 11, 2013 11:17 AM

    Kapernick is now trying to be a drop back QB and he hasn’t been that style QB….Harbaugh is trying to develop another Andrew Luck… May happen but not for two or three more seasons. Of bigger concern is getting into the red zone 2 times for 6 pts, it’s time to get an imagination.

  60. cfeeley52 says: Nov 11, 2013 11:26 AM

    I agree with all of these except 2. The Bengals won’t get it done, they’ve proven they can’t stay consistent down the stretch and will find a way to screw it up before playoffs roll around. Dallas wins the division in week 17? I might buy them making the playoffs, but predicting Romo will win a crucial game in week 17 ignores his entire career track record. When presented with a win or go home game, Romo will find a way to go home, every time…

  61. shlort says: Nov 11, 2013 11:33 AM

    jayniner says:Nov 11, 2013 11:14 AM

    What happened to Colin Kaepernick?

    It’s pretty simple. He’s not comfortable in the pocket. His first reaction is to watch the pocket around him collapse and look for a way out. He’s more comfortable scrambling out of the pocket and either throwing on the run or running it himself. That’s why he did so well last year — Harbaugh let him do it. If it weren’t for our defense and Frank Gore, we’d be fighting for a first round draft pick next year.

    3-step drop and pass Kap…

    Trust your line.
    _____________________________

    Kaep’s problem is that the option system is his strength, and thanks to Kaep, NFL Defenses have worked on stopping that.

    Kaep has never really been a pocket passer. Harbaugh should have developed him over time with a different system. Kaep has the skill to be good, but will he be given an opportunity in a league that demands winners?

    Drop back and pass only works if a QB has a working knowledge of defenses. The best QBs read the D before the snap ever happens. Kaep waits for the D to develope during the play to decide what he is going to do. By then, it is usually too late. That is why his favorite target is Davis. Hit the check down route with Davis is Kaeps bread and butter.

  62. sportsinhd says: Nov 11, 2013 11:42 AM

    The Eagles are 5-5 with all of their wins coming on the road. How is Dallas at home for the last game of the season against the Eagles helpful?

  63. jgedgar70 says: Nov 11, 2013 11:52 AM

    What happened to Kapernick? Easy. The Carolina Panthers defense happened to him. That was the best front 7 he has faced all year, a group of studs.

    But the secondary is good as well. Every week, the national media predicts the Panthers will get torched because they have a terrible secondary, and every week the secondary steps up. Nobody in the national media has ever heard of any of the Panthers DBs, so by definition they have to be terrible, right? Wrong. Bring on Brees, his 47 receiers and their terrible running game. We will shut them down and take the NFC South.

  64. patsfansknowitall says: Nov 11, 2013 12:04 PM

    I don’t think you wrote enough about the patriots – they’re the best team in the conference. It’s a waste of time to speculate on anything except them winning the SB.

  65. redbirdsrising says: Nov 11, 2013 12:09 PM

    >The Cowboys and Eagles meet in Week 17 in Dallas, and I think the Cowboys will complete the season sweep and seal the division title on the last day of the season.

    Twice Romo had to win the last game of the season to get into the playoffs and twice the Cowtards dropped a giant turd. Dallas better be nervous if this scenario plays out a 3rd time.

  66. purpleattack says: Nov 11, 2013 12:12 PM

    Thanks for saving me a bunch of time on Sundays, now I don’t need to watch the games to know what will happen.

  67. mrgdawg says: Nov 11, 2013 12:18 PM

    No way the Broncos go into Arrowhead and get a victory. The noise, the cold, 3rd straight tough game….too much to overcome. They split home & home.

  68. jayniner says: Nov 11, 2013 12:35 PM

    jayniner says:Nov 11, 2013 11:14 AM

    What happened to Colin Kaepernick?

    It’s pretty simple. He’s not comfortable in the pocket. His first reaction is to watch the pocket around him collapse and look for a way out. He’s more comfortable scrambling out of the pocket and either throwing on the run or running it himself. That’s why he did so well last year — Harbaugh let him do it. If it weren’t for our defense and Frank Gore, we’d be fighting for a first round draft pick next year.

    3-step drop and pass Kap…

    Trust your line.
    _____________________________
    shlort says: Nov 11, 2013 11:33 AM

    Kaep’s problem is that the option system is his strength, and thanks to Kaep, NFL Defenses have worked on stopping that.

    Kaep has never really been a pocket passer. Harbaugh should have developed him over time with a different system. Kaep has the skill to be good, but will he be given an opportunity in a league that demands winners?

    Drop back and pass only works if a QB has a working knowledge of defenses. The best QBs read the D before the snap ever happens. Kaep waits for the D to develope during the play to decide what he is going to do. By then, it is usually too late. That is why his favorite target is Davis. Hit the check down route with Davis is Kaeps bread and butter.

    ——————————–

    Agreed. It’s getting frustrating to see a less than 200 yard passing game every Sunday. Even when Crabtree is back and they have 4 solid receiver options, he’ll still wait for things to develop. He’s proven that works against average/poor defenses….just not against good ones.

  69. olcap says: Nov 11, 2013 12:41 PM

    Nice analysis.

  70. mylionsroaring says: Nov 11, 2013 12:44 PM

    jjb0811 says: Nov 11, 2013 6:54 AM

    you forgot to list the GM’s and coaches who will be tossed aside in January.
    1. Maimi
    2. TB Bucs
    3. Minny needs a new coach
    4. Houston needs a change at either position, probably coach
    5. Tenn needs new direction. The only team that constantly loses to all defeated teams.
    6. Dallas needs a new GM but that’ll never happen their current GM loves being .500 as his records has been for over a decade

    __________________________
    Agree and disagree

    Frazier is a pretty good coach in Minnesota, he just was dealt a bad hand with Ponder. Once that all gets settled they will get back to winning football. His team hasn’t quit on him. That is a sign of a solid coach. I do see your point though and he may be gone. I just don’t know that it will be the best move when the dust settles. If the qb position gets worked out they are a well coached team overall.

    Tennessee has been dealing with some bad luck from their quarterback injury wise. The defense is playing well, and so is the offense when they have their starting qb. Look no further than Green Bay to see how much the starting qb means to a team.

    Tampa Bay needs to Fire their coach today

    Dallas needs to Fire their coach as soon as the season ends.

    Depending on what the investigation tells us Miami may need to fire their guy. He is a solid coach though so if he isn’t involved he should stay.

    Houston is a team that looked to far ahead. They looked at the playoffs before the season started. That is on the coach, but he will learn from that and keep his job. Look for them to bounce back. If Schaub (SP) don’t throw three pick sixes to end games the coach is looking pretty good right now.

  71. gurkharavens says: Nov 11, 2013 12:48 PM

    There is no way Bengals are going to win the division. I cannot muster how the Ravens won the game yesterday despite a lackluster effort .(Tells a lot about the Bengals team) Steelers are in a deep hole. So, as a Ravens fan, as much as I would want them to win the division; I think the Browns will win it. AFC North seems more like NFC East this season

  72. sportsdrenched says: Nov 11, 2013 12:53 PM

    What happened to Colin Kaepernick?

    In MLB the season is long enough that luck runs out, and fast starts are adjusted to.

    In the NFL a string of luck can get you a play-off spot and even to a Super Bowl. Kaepernick went gang busters the latter half of last season, and during the playoffs. THEN all the D Coordinators spent all off-season figuring out a way to stop him, or at least slow him down. Adjustments were made. Now whether Kaepernick becomes a career NFL QB, or just a flash in the pan depends on him making counter adjustments.

  73. niner13 says: Nov 11, 2013 12:57 PM

    Kap does not see the field well. He locks onto one receiver and never sees others. It’s called poor field vision. He never goes through progessions, and there often are open receivers he never looks at. It may be correctable, but he’ll never be the natural drop back passer, despite Harbaugh’s efforts to make him one.

  74. rivercitydog says: Nov 11, 2013 1:00 PM

    “Bengals are going to win this division”?

    Don’t think that you know the Bungals the way WE know the Bungals.

    Think you may revisit that statement after Cleveland goes into their house this weekend and kicks their asses.

  75. assuredmutualdestruction says: Nov 11, 2013 1:08 PM

    You forgot to mention that Russell Wilson is Luke Skywalker

  76. assuredmutualdestruction says: Nov 11, 2013 1:10 PM

    Kaepernick was a second round pick for a reason…and it wasn’t his physical ability.

  77. blu4l1fe says: Nov 11, 2013 1:20 PM

    Inconsistency is pretty much across the board except for a few teams that have quite an advantage in the win column. Specifically in the NFC East, I think it is a four team race. I don’t really see Dallas nor Philly dominating their last few games as with the Skins or the Giants. It may just very well be that 9-7 makes it to the playoffs this year.

    This is crazy enough to happen but I know that teams really don’t want to play the Giants especially if they get into streak and somehow make it to the playoffs.

  78. chris6523 says: Nov 11, 2013 1:27 PM

    Way to go out on a limb. Predict that the 12 teams currently in if the season ends today would be in the playoffs at the end of the season. That’s some bold prognosticating, right there.

  79. joemammy says: Nov 11, 2013 1:33 PM

    This is Cleveland’s year in the AFC North. Baltimore, Cincy and Pittsburgh are nothing more than speed-bumps…and speed-bumps get rolled over.

    The Browns will show the Bengals what an elite defense really looks like.

  80. dd8228 says: Nov 11, 2013 1:44 PM

    wide open once again, as we have seen in recent years, wildcard teams that are hot in last 4-6 games can win it all. Green bay, Giants twice, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. All won super bowl recently. All had great line play on both sides of the ball and a qb who came through with game on line vs higher seeded teams ON THE ROAD.
    obviously Seattle, Denver and New Orleans look completely unbeatable at their homefields. BUT Carolina fits the mold of the recent lower seeded super bowl champs. Strong line, great defense, solid run game, qb not making mistakes. Look like they can challenge a Seattle or New Orleans. In the AFC unless Manning goes down, they are hands down the best team and no-one will beat them at Mile High. Only teams that have a shot at them seem to b New England and Kansas City, but both of those teams have issues on one side of the ball. With Gronk back for the Patriots they could match Denver for points. KC has a great rush that could keep score down but I’ve also seen Cleveland and buffalo move the ball well vs them the last two weeks in games Kc should have lost. I don’t see another afc team challenging, possibly the Colts but they seem to have regressed, should have lost to Houston and rams toasted them. Speaking of the Rams, they have the talent and the line play to compete with anyone, but their qb is not very good.

  81. pats777 says: Nov 11, 2013 2:00 PM

    When was the last time a team with a -62 point differential made the playoffs? Not gonna happen for the Jets.

  82. jose4040 says: Nov 11, 2013 2:02 PM

    Wow! Another post where the Chiefs get no credit for their great season thus far. Has anyone seen the Bronos schedule. They’ve only played one team with a winning record and they lost. KC will sweep the Broncos. Everyone is putting points against the DEN D and so will KC. KC has held their opponents to an average of 17 pts. KC has one of the leagues top Defense unlike the teams DEN has played. KC will win the division, maybe not undefeated but maybe they will. The big question is if they can finally win a playoff game. It’s been 20 years since their last win in the playoffs. Maybe this is the year. As a Chiefs fan, I really hope this is the year.

  83. clssylssy says: Nov 11, 2013 2:06 PM

    But what happened to the Panthers when Zona nearly laid a twenty burger on them? Zona? Really? Guess that just goes to show that Any Given Sunday…! Still plenty of time for the injury bug to decimate any given team and I wouldn’t count the 9ers out of anything!

  84. assuredmutualdestruction says: Nov 11, 2013 2:23 PM

    Niners lose on the road in Detroit…it’s gonna happen…watch

  85. ivanpavlov0000 says: Nov 11, 2013 2:37 PM

    I think both AFC wild card teams will come from the West. The Chargers will make the playoffs, not the Jets. And that will cost sexy Rexy his job.

  86. whodeybacker says: Nov 11, 2013 2:42 PM

    Seems the Bengals are fodder fothis forum. They have played 4 of there last 5 games on the road. They were 3-2 in them with both losses being in ot. They will win at least 10 games. Also they have not had there bye yet. They will weather the storm.

  87. rodh32340 says: Nov 11, 2013 2:59 PM

    KC is having a great year and they have a fine RB but their Offense is nomthing special, their Defense however, that is a winner! They are the reason that they are undefeated, now can Peyton get up on this Def? If he can grab a couple of quick scores early, I don’t see KC’s offense matching scores with Manning. It will definitely be the highest rated game of the year for fans of good solid NFL football, if the refs let them play! Denver by a FG…but I could be talked into a KC win easily.

  88. leroykellyfanclub says: Nov 11, 2013 3:12 PM

    I wouldn’t anoint the Bengals as division champs, Browns defeated the Bengals, 17-6, on Sept. 29 in Cleveland.

  89. onlyanoyster says: Nov 11, 2013 4:01 PM

    As a Seahawks fan, I could not be happier with the little Harbaugh putting all of his eggs in the Kaepernick basket.

  90. whodeybacker says: Nov 11, 2013 4:45 PM

    Browns beat Bengals in week 2?? Big deal. They were at home and that was 8 games ago. I ve said the Browns would finish 8-8. There good. And may get a wild card imo. Wont win the division though. And for the ja’s giving mecthumbs down for pointing out 4 of cintis last 5 games have been on the road? ? Idiots

  91. gatorjet says: Nov 12, 2013 11:43 AM

    I guess Darrelle forgot that he held out his rookie season all of the preseason- that would actually make it his second time to hold out in 2010 in 4 yrs!! I guess his ego forgot that- as a Jet fan thank you very much for leaving, getting us needed cap space back and for Sheldon Richardson and for preventing a 3 rd hold out this year that you hinted at- so if getting all that for a perineal hold out – sign me up!! Sayonara!!!

  92. gohawks7 says: Nov 12, 2013 1:34 PM

    SF and Kaep had a really easy schedule the second half of last year and the defenses they faced in the playoffs (GB and Atl) were a joke. Now that they are playing some good teams….it’s not all that rosy.

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