Sunday, November 06, 2005

NFL Ramblings

Figured I should write about the NFL and its coalescing playoff picture now that we're halfway through the season...

We're in that weird time when the games don't quite "matter" yet like they seem to at the end of the season, but we have a pretty clear idea of which teams are true contenders. Of all the NFL teams I've seen, Denver looks like the best. They've beaten down some good teams this season, and they have no weakness. Denver is in good position to get homefield/altitude advantage, which would make them my Super Bowl favorites. Indy has played one team with a winning record so far. I'll have to see how they fare against the Patriots tomorrow night before making any judgments about them. It's telling that Indy opened with a bunch of bad teams and couldn't really get going on offense. Manning got his record last season by beating up on bad teams. It hasn't happened this year, so why should we think it will start happening against good teams like New England, Pittsburgh, Cincy and San Diego? Indy still has a pretty weak schedule for the rest of the way, so it wouldn't surpise me if they edge out Denver for homefield advantage. The four teams I mentioned in the previous sentence are my picks for the other AFC playoff spots. The Steelers have a bit of an easier go of it than the Bengals do down the stretch, so I like them to win the division.

Carolina's drubbing of Tampa Bay today makes them the class of the NFC--another team that is complete on both sides of the ball. Their two remaining games against Atlanta will decide the division. Whichever team falls short will grab a wild card spot--both seem to have equal-strength schedules. Tampa, quite simply, won't be able to win with their current quarterback situation, as the game today proved. The NFC North and West divisions are pretty awful; Seattle and Chicago should win their divisions, despite their being very one-dimensional teams. The NFC is an absolute crapshoot now that the Eagles have fallen back to earth, thanks to their aging and declining offensive line and McNabb's limited mobility. The Giants seem like the team to beat, but I don't know if I trust Eli Manning just yet. Fact is, all of these teams seem equally capable of having either a flawless game or a horrible game, and the division could come down to a lucky bounce or an overturned replay or something similarly random in the last game of the regular season.

Going out on a limb:

AFC picks:
North winner: Steelers
South winner: Colts
East winner: Patriots
West winner: Broncos
Wild card: Bengals
Wild card: Chargers

NFC picks:
North winner: Bears
South winner: Panthers
East winner: Giants
West winner: Seahawks
Wild card: Falcons
Wild card: Redskins


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