Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If the NFL Playoffs Started Today (Week 14)

I don't know why I waited (and maybe waded) through the Monday game. After giving it some more thought, I decided to only include teams that had won more games than they have lost. If the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Chargers continue to charge up the standings, perhaps I'll include them next week. Things are getting very intriguing. Nothing is settled except for the top spot in the NFC, and that has been fairly well settled for the last few weeks.

NFC
1. Green Bay 13-0 (kc, CHI, DET)
2. San Francisco 10-3 (PIT, sea, stl)
3. New Orleans 10-3 (min, ATL, CAR)
4. New York Giants 7-6 (WAS, nyj, DAL)
5. Atlanta 8-5 (JAX, no, TB)
6. Detroit 8-5 (oak, SD, gb)
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7. Chicago 7-6 (SEA, gb, min)
8. Dallas 7-6 (tb, PHI, nyg)

AFC
1. Houston 10-3 (CAR, ind, TEN)
2. Baltimore 10-3 (sd, CLE, cin)
3. New England 10-3 (den, MIA, BUF)
4. Denver 8-5 (NE, buf, KC)
5. Pittsburgh 10-3 (sf, STL, cle)
6. New York Jets 8-5 (phi, NYG, mia)
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7. Tennessee 7-6 (ind, JAX, hou)
8. Cincinnati 7-6 (stl, ARI, BAL)
9. Oakland 7-6 (DET, kc, SD)

The only question with Green Bay is whether they will go for the undefeated season. They still need to win this week to ensure their homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, so they should be able to pull off the win in Kansas City. The Packers' second team could probably beat the Bears now. Ho hum.

The top of the AFC holds the most intrigue. There are four teams at 10-3 and it appears that strength of victory will determine the standings if everyone wins out. The Steelers are the only one of the four teams that has three conference losses (two to Baltimore) so they are on the outside looking in with a pretty tough game this weekend at San Francisco. The Texans may be hurt by their weak schedule to conclude the season, although Tennessee could help matters by winning a few games (as they should).

In the NFC, there are three tiers. The Packers are a tier by themselves. The Saints and 49ers are fighting out for the second seed. Either way, the Saints will host one game and should be a good source of points. They would probably not travel as well as the 49ers to Green Bay. The third tier is the rest of the teams fighting for spots four through six. The Giants won an unbelievable game to take the lead in the NFC East. The Falcons and Lions also won their way into the top six, while the Bears and Cowboys fell out. Atlanta should be able to take care of Jacksonville at home this week, but their game at the Superdome in Week 16 should be an interesting one. The Raiders looked horrible this weekend at Green Bay, but Detroit is not a lock to win any game.

The Jets also won their way into the playoffs with a nice win over the Chiefs. They have road games against the Eagles and Dolphins with a semi-road game against the Giants in Week 16. Tennessee and Cincinnati could slide up to the sixth spot if the Jets should lose.

The Wild Card match ups currently have the Lions visiting New Orleans and Falcons head to New York in the NFC. The Saints spanked Detroit 31-17 in Week 13 and that would be a good match up for the home team. The Giants are just 3-3 at home and the Falcons are 4-3 on the road, so Atlanta would have a good shot at pulling the upset in that one (weather permitting).

I don't know if you realize this (I certainly didn't), but the Patriots have not won a playoff game since 2007. Last year, they lost to the Jets in the Divisional round and two years ago they were beaten by Baltimore in the Wild Card game. They are currently slated to face the Jets for the third time this year and second straight year in the playoffs. In the regular season, New England won both match ups handily. The Steelers and Broncos are still set to play. I'll be very interested to see what the Patriots do in Denver this weekend.

Since I forgot to put up a top ten player list last week, I'll go for a top 20 list this week:

This week's top ten players:

1. Aaron Rodgers (1)
2. Drew Brees (2)
3. Tom Brady (3)
4. Arian Foster (5)
5. Ray Rice (4)
6. Frank Gore (7)
7. Rob Gronkowski (9)
8. Rashard Mendenhall (8)
9. Jordy Nelson
10. Ben Roethlisberger (5) - I am not sure he can hold up
11. Michael Turner
12. Eli Manning
13. Calvin Johnson
14. Ahmad Bradshaw
15. Jimmy Graham
16. Andre Johnson - assuming he comes back
17. Tim Tebow
18. Shonn Greene
19. Mike Wallace
20. Willis McGahee

Also considered
Torrey Smith
Wes Welker
T.J. Yates
Joe Flacco
Antonio Brown
Santonio Holmes
Plaxico Burress
Roddy White
Matt Ryan
Julio Jones
Marques Colston
Pierre Thomas
Jake Ballard