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The NFL season is entering its latter half, and the race is just as exciting as ever. Two divisions have a three-way tie for the lead, and another has the third team half a game back. Both conferences have a division with three teams currently in the playoff bracket; a division has only finished that way twice since the current divisional alignment occurred. One win-less and one unbeaten team remain, which should make for an entertaining finish. Aside from the runaway NFC West, all divisions are led by at most two games, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, November 8:
You play the Packers at home. You score 38 points. You lose. That says all you need to know about Green Bay.
San Francisco may not always score the most, but they have the league’s most formidable defense and a kicker that can score from over 50 yards away with great reliability. Without question, the 49ers this year are a team to be reckoned with.
Any team like the Giants that can win in New England is to be feared. Then again, the Bears did the same in Philadelphia. Both teams are similar in that way, though the Giants haven’t been too consistent this year. If the Giants can settle down and play a full 60 minutes against a quality team, they’ll do fine, otherwise the Bears will take advantage.
So far, New Orleans hasn’t lost at home while Detroit hasn’t lost on the road. However, Detroit has a noticeably better defense, and a decent offense of their own. With Detroit’s resurgence and the sheer force with which they play (Suh, Fairley and Megatron amongst others), New Orleans will have a hard time.
After a bit of turmoil in the AFC North, Cincinnati finds themselves atop the standings. Their offense is good behind the rookie pairing of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, and their defense is the third best in the league. The Bengals can hang with any team, and they’ll be more than ready to prove it.
With the weakened Colts (and an under-performing Chris Johnson) in their division, Houston is taking advantage to put together a franchise season. Andre Johnson will be back soon enough, and with Houston’s surprisingly good defense, they’ll be tough.
Thanks to a three-way tie that kicks Buffalo out of the picture, New England leads the AFC East. The thing is that they’re sliding fast. Defenses are figuring out their offense and their own defense still tends to give up tough plays at the most inopportune times. Pittsburgh may have lost at home to Baltimore, but at least they’re consistent in their performance. And with New England’s recent home playoff history, Pittsburgh is fixing to win this Pats game as well.
Baltimore has got to be feeling great after sweeping the Steelers for the second time ever. Kansas City, meanwhile, was limited, at home, to a field goal by the previously win-less Dolphins. Kansas City is struggling in the NFL’s weakest division, and this rematch from last year’s playoffs, down to the seeds, shouldn’t end any differently.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFL Playoffs, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers