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NFL Playoff Picture (Week 10)

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

2011 Season NFL Predictions

With the preseason getting under way  to see how NFL teams are shaping up, it’s now time for the 2011 Season predictions!

2011 Season NFL Top Spot Predictions by division:

AFC West: San Diego Chargers, though they have a difficult schedule, they should be able to pull ahead.

AFC South: Indianapolis Colts.  Peyton Manning’s health an issue (neck injury) and could possibly be the Colts undoing this season.  Perhaps too much stock is put solely into Manning.

AFC North:  Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens.  Ravens have a great schedule; most of the tough games are home games.  For the Steelers, they have a few tough games lined up against Baltimore and a home game against the Patriots.  This division will be a tough win.  Other possible competitors include the Cleveland Browns with Colt McCoy as their quarterback.  The Cincinnati Bengals will probably compete with the Detroit Lions for the worst record in the league and they get rid of talent to meet their salary cap.

AFC East: Obviously the New England Patriots have the best record.  Tom Brady will resume play at QB this season after being out on the disabled list for the majority of the season last year.  The New York Jets are best positioned and hungry to take that title from the Patriots however.  Their two key players, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, will come back from another season.  While this probably won’t be the Buffalo Bills year again, they will be in a great position to get one of the top quarterbacks next season.

Wild card: the Jets and the Steelers would make an awesome duo to knock-off the Colts and the Chargers.

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the Seahawks have won five of the last seven divisional titles.  Their roster is still being overhauled, but they should still take the top spot again.

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons.  The Falcons have banked on Julio Jones being their go-to guy at the expense of many draft picks.  Ray Edwards on defense should also be formidable.  Just behind the Falcons are the New Orleans Saints.  They will be an improved team this year, but probably not enough to overtake the Falcons.

NFC North: Tough to predict, but probably the Green Bay Packers.  The Packers resigned most of their key free agents therefore having much of the same guys as on their 2010 Super Bowl Championship team.  The Chicago Bears are right behind them, although they might have too much stock in their Dallas Cowboys pickups, Roy Williams, Marion Barber and Sam Hurd.

NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles.  While this division is one of the most competitive, the Eagles should easily take the top spot with their great talent and large salary cap to add more key players.

Wild card: Saints vs. Seahawks and Packers vs. Falcons.

Superbowl: Ravens over Eagles

MVP: Michael Vick

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Patrick Peterson, CB Arizona Cardinals

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram, RB New Orleans Saints.

Predictions by Bleacher Reports