Yes, I know we’re only halfway through the season, but ten of the twelve playoff spots are pretty much already spoken for in each conference, leaving a bunch of sub par teams to scramble for the remaining wild cards. In the AFC; Houston, New England, Denver, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are all in line for return trips to the playoffs. That leaves Miami, Indianapolis and San Diego in a race to reach ten wins, which they’ll all likely fall short of, meaning that Indy’s win over Miami last week would be the tie breaker that allows them to face a vengeful Peyton Manning on the road in the first round. Assuming Houston is able to hold onto the one seed, and Denver is able to get by Indy, that would provide fans with their annual Manning vs. Brady sequel. This whole scenario would also mean we get Baltimore and Pittsburgh in round one, and maybe even a Baltimore/Houston rematch in the second round.
The NFC is a mirror of the AFC, with Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Green Bay all having secured playoff spots by midseason. This leaves us with Seattle, Tampa Bay and New Orleans all fighting for the six seed. New Orleans would have to somehow overcome one of the league’s worst defenses in history during a season already marred by Bountygate, which is a tall order to ask of anyone. If Seattle can win at home against San Fran in week sixteen, it should be enough to earn them a third game tie breaker against their division rival in week one (assuming that S.F. is the three seed). The week fifteen rematch between Chicago and Green Bay will be the deciding factor to see who wins the North division, and being a Bears fan means that I’ve picked them to be the two seed. This scenario lines us up for the Packers to play the Giants in round one, and (crossing my fingers) a possible Green Bay/Chicago playoff classic in the second round.
I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, so I’ll save myself the embarrassment of making any foolish Super Bowl predictions without knowing who is healthy and who is clicking going into January, but I’ll just put it out there anyway: Chicago over Houston 20-13.