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With just seven weeks to go, and several divisions are still very much up for grabs. For that matter, the whole AFC is on the line, with going from #1 to #6 in a week becoming rather likely lately. The Packers are still the team to beat, but with San Francisco, Pittsburgh and even Houston winning big, there’s some hefty competition. New England and Oakland are back on track for the time being, while the Giants are slipping. There’s a lot to look forward to in the season’s home stretch, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, November 15:
It’s the Packers. Enough said.
San Francisco held off a good version of the Giants to win their seventh in a row. They’re an all-around team that can score and limit opponents’ points, and should pretty much only be given a true test by the Packers.
New Orleans held very strong to hold back Atlanta in OT in Atlanta. Chicago took advantage of home-field to take down the powerhouse known as Detroit. Both teams are very home-field oriented this season, which when coupled with the Saints’ runaway offense (only a touchdown behind Green Bay) should give New Orleans the edge they need.
That game in Chicago was actually the first road loss for Detroit all season. The Giants were still in that game against San Fran until the final minute. The troublesome thing for the Giants is that Detroit has 61 more net points. Given the sporadic struggles NY has had this season, Detroit is in line for its first playoff win in forever.
An early season victory over Pittsburgh has Houston ruling the AFC. When healthy, they’re a very dangerous opponent. If Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson remain healthy for the playoffs, they’ll do fine. Even if they are, expect other teams to keep almost non-stop pressure on them.
Pittsburgh has been just as dominant as ever. In fact, their only real achilles heel has been Baltimore. Still, it’s been difficult for anyone to do well against Pittsburgh this season.
Aside from Denver, Cincinnati‘s losses this season have been to good teams Pittsburgh and San Francisco. New England picked things up against the Jets, but they will always be known to concentrate only on their own passing game while Tom Brady is in town. Cincy’s offense has been a pleasant surprise this year, so Tom Terrific may need to stay on top for New England to avoid another embarrassing home playoff loss.
Oakland is in first place, but in the weakest division in football. Baltimore has the league’s second-best defense behind San Francisco, but any supposedly good team has its credibility damaged after losing to Seattle. But considering Baltimore’s overall defense on the season and their 98 more net points, they should do fine.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFL Playoffs, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers