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Nine weeks into the season, many teams still have legitimate chances of making waves. The Vikings are down, the Steelers are up and the Falcons are still (barely) unbeaten. Three AFC divisions are only led by a game, so not only are the Wildcard slots up for grabs, the seeding overall is still chaotic. In what has become the norm this season, anything can and will happen, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, November 7:
The Falcons held off the Cowboys at home 19-13 to remain unbeaten. Say what you want about Atlanta not being able to blow anyone out, but they’re very good at winning close games, so they don’t need to blow anyone out.
Once again, Chicago put up an excellent performance, marching into Tennessee and putting up 51 points. With that kind of ability, Chicago once again established themselves as the team to beat.
San Francisco moved up during their bye week, while Seattle conquered Minnesota to move up to #6. However, Seattle is only 1-4 on the road so far this season, and San Fran is a difficult place for a road team to take control of San Francisco’s excellent defense. The still relatively unproven Seahawks will have a real tough time in this one.
New York suffered a close home defeat to Pittsburgh, while Green Bay put up 31 at home to take care of the severely weakened Cardinals. With both teams now at 6-3, this could suddenly be a very exciting game. Even so, New York isn’t to be considered any less talented, and has slightly better stats. They’ll be at home, and have a much more balanced offense as opposed to an almost pure passing attack.
Houston limited Buffalo to nine points to pick up their seventh win of the season. A powerful offense backed up by the AFC’s best defense has the Texans sitting pretty atop the conference.
A visit to Cleveland helped Baltimore keep a hold on a first-round bye, but even that was a bit of a struggle. Their remaining schedule doesn’t have too many easy games left, and the injuries will catch up to Baltimore shortly.
Pittsburgh has now won three in a row, including their most recent 24-20 road win against the defending champion Giants. Aside from that, Pittsburgh’s only other road win on the season was against a Bengals team in a severe drought. Their offense is certainly capable of shredding the Patriots‘ defense, but the New England D has only given up 170 points so far, very far from the worst. If Pittsburgh, even with their defense, is to have any chance on the road against Tom Brady, they’ll need to make sure their punter has the night off.
We’re all salivating over the prospect of Peyton Manning facing off against his successor, but it might not be as exciting as we would hope. True, Andrew Luck now holds the rookie passing record for single game yardage, but Peyton has more abilities, is more proven and has better pieces in Denver. Indianapolis has done very well this season, to be sure, but in their only road game of the season against a talented squad (Chicago, Week 1), they didn’t fare so well.
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New York Giants, NFL Playoffs, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks