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Seven weeks into the season, there is only one unbeaten team left (Kansas City) and two winless teams (Tampa and Jacksonville). The AFC is starting to clump up. The NFC East finally has a team with a winning record. The Packers are making a run of things with Chicago and Detroit having issues. The NFL is quite volatile right now, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, October 22:
Seattle took advantage of the Saints’ bye week to move into sole possession of the #1 seed. Their 191 points is fourth in the NFL, and their defense, while not completely perfect, continues to impress while their offense continues to back it up. Without any setbacks, and homefield advantage, they could very well march to the Super Bowl.
New Orleans is coming off their bye week, and they needed it. Jimmy Graham is questionable for next week (foot), and as he is Drew Brees’ best weapon, he’ll be needed. However, even without a catch, the Saints still barely lost to New England. If they have everyone healthy and everything going right, they’ll be fine, but otherwise, it’ll at least be a tough road.
After a tough home loss to Cincinnati, Detroit is barely above .500. After three straight wins following a shaky start, the Packers have taken the lead in the NFC North. Even without multiple receivers, the Packers have been putting together some good games with various scores and margins of victory. All they have to do is keep pace with Detroit and Chicago while regaining health, and they’ll be in a decent position.
Dallas won in Philadelphia to take firm control of the NFC East, but Philadelphia is down to their third-string quarterback with Michael Vick hurt and Nick Foles concussed during the game. San Francisco is just a game away from the NFC lead, and haven’t been having any issues lately behind four straight wins. Look for San Francisco to pull ahead in this one.
After eking out a win over ailing Houston, Kansas City is the league’s final unbeaten team, pretty good for a team that just had the #1 draft pick. KC has an excellent defense and good offense, but close calls against bad teams won’t cut it. They have what it takes to make a deep run, put to make the deepest run, they’ll need to score plenty more against the best teams to support their defense.
Thanks to New England’s tough game against the Jets, the Bengals have moved up into one of the byes. While they don’t have the best stats, they have been able to grit out close wins; other than a 10-point win against Pittsburgh in Week 2, all their victories have been by one possession. That gives Cincinnati a distinct advantage if their opponent isn’t able to open a multiple-possession insurance lead.
Indianapolis was finally the one to take down Peyton Manning and the Broncos, and in his homecoming to boot. The Chargers have breached the right side of .500, though beating up on Jacksonville isn’t exactly newsworthy. These two have had plenty of great playoff games before, but the momentum beating the Broncos gives them makes Indianapolis a tough customer.
New England beat the Saints, then lost to the Jets. It’s tough to know which Patriots squad will show up, but with all levels of their defense missing their best guys, it’s tough to imagine the Broncos not rolling in any case.
Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFL Playoffs, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks