Tuesday, December 7, 2010

NFL 2010: Playoff Picture with Four Weeks Remaining

The AFC post season pool is pretty much set. It’s just a matter of jockeying for position at this point.

Here’s the field:
(East) New England: 10 - 2 – Home field through out
(North) Pittsburgh: 9 - 3 – First Round Bye
(West) Kansas City: 8 – 4
(South) Jacksonville: 7 - 5
(Wild Card) New York Jets: 9 -3
(Wild Card) Baltimore: 8 – 4

In the North, the Ravens are three games ahead of Cleveland – no race there unless the Ravens can pull ahead of the Steelers to win the division. The Jets are three games up on the Miami Dolphins – same scenario as the North, but New England would go 2 – 2 for the rest of the season? Doubtful.

The race is in the AFC South. Jacksonville is one game up on the Colts and two games up on Tennessee and Houston. The Colts must get healthy. Their slaughter at the hands of Dallas showed how torn apart the Indianapolis team is. Indianapolis hosts Jacksonville in two weeks. That game could decide the division.

Who would have expected Kansas City to be playoff bound? San Diego was surging but gave up an embarrassing loss to Oakland and now stand two games back. Oakland has the tie-breakers over San Diego. Kansas City faces both San Diego and Oakland so tie-breakers could come into play if they lost both games and their competition won their remaining four games. The bottom line is if Kansas City wins three games, they’re in.

Incidentally, there are no teams beside the six teams we show seeded for the playoffs who currently hold a winning record in the AFC.

The NFC is a different matter. There are plenty of open races, but the West could really embarrass the NFL with a division leader with a losing record.

(South) Atlanta: 10 - 2 – Home field through out.
(North) Chicago: 9 – 3 – First Round Bye
(East) Philadelphia: 8 – 4
(West) Seattle: 6 – 6
(Wild Card) New Orleans: 9 – 3
(Wild Card) Green Bay: 8 – 4

Here are other contenders:
New York Giants: 8 – 4 – Wild Card or East title
Tampa Bay: 7 – 5 – Wild Card, South title (long shot)
St. Louis: 6 -6 – West title

In the NFC, all conferences are open races and two teams have a shot at the Wild Card beyond the two we show as seeded.

The Dallas Cowboys are surely the team nobody in contention wants to face. Since the dismissal of Wade Phillips, they’re winning convincingly with just one loss. Jason Garrett has the team on the move which had been a laughing stock through October. The Eagles do battle with the Cowboys twice, at Dallas, this weekend and then finish against them at home.

With four weeks to go, the AFC field looks almost set in stone. The NFC, the surest bet would appear to be Atlanta winning the south, but would anyone bet against the possibility of Green Bay overtaking the Bears if they are healthy. With two games against Dallas, and the New York Giants getting things pulled back together, the Eagles could fall. The West is total chaos. One team will win by default. With all these possibilities in play, it’s way too soon to project the final Wild Cards. Today’s first place teams could be the Wild Cards at season’s end.

No comments: