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Jim-harbaugh-49ersJust past the midway point, the 2011-12 NFL Playoff picture is becoming to be a bit more clear.  Outside of the undefeated Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, no teams are separating themselves from the pack (no pun intended). In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers are 2nd best record wise at 7-1 but many football analysts still aren’t true believers in Jim Harbaugh’s squad.  They have only 1 quality win (over Detroit 25-19) and lost to a rather mediocre Dallas Cowboys team.  The Niners will face a big test this Sunday against the 6-2 NY Giants.  The Chicago Bears (5-3) and New Orleans Saints (6-3) have also played well at times but will need to show they can consistently win.  With little chance of catching the packers, the Bears have a huge game against the NFC North rival Lions.

In the AFC, the surprising Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) and Houston Texans (6-3) find themselves atop the division standings.  The New England Patriots are right there sitting at 6-3 but their defensive has come into question and Tom Brady has not looked himself the past few weeks.  Bill Belichick will look to get the Pats back on course this week against the Jets.  The opposite can be said of traditional AFC powerhouses the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) and Baltimore Ravens (6-2).  Both have looked better of late after starting off the season slow but the NY Jets and Buffalo Bills are ready to overtake them should they slip up.

In a league full or parity, we find a large group of teams bunched around the .500 mark.   The second half of the season looms large as many teams will be jockeying for a playoff spot.   If the season were to end today, here is who would be and who would be out of the 2012 NFL Playoffs.

AFC Playoff Race

Seed Team Division Record
1
Cincinnati
North 6-2-0
2
Houston
South 6-3-0
3
New England
East 5-3-0
4
Oakland
West 5-4-0
5
Baltimore
North 6-2-0
6
Pittsburgh
North 6-3-0
Outside Looking In…
7
N.Y. Jets
East 5-3-0
8
Buffalo
East 5-3-0

NFC Playoff Race

Seed Team Division Record
1
Green Bay
North 8-0-0
2
San Francisco
West 7-1-0
3
N.Y. Giants
East 6-2-0
4
New Orleans
South 6-3-0
5
Detroit
North 6-2-0
6
Chicago
North 5-3-0
Outside Looking In…
7
Atlanta
South 5-3-0
8
Dallas
East 4-4-0
9
Tampa Bay
South 4-4-0