Interesting Races In Six Divisions
With six games to go for everybody, six of the eight divisions still have interesting races, be it for a divisional championship or wildcard contention.
This is one of the two divisions that does not have an interesting race. New England has a three-game lead over its other three rivals, and even with the loss of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots will coast to an easy division title.
Buffalo is the only team of the back three that we see has a chance to get hot and go on a run to finish 9-7-0. Even at 9-7-0, there is a good chance they would miss out on the playoffs. This week’s game at Indianapolis may be the most important game left on their schedule.
Baltimore now has a two-game lead over Pittsburgh, and it looks like the Ravens will keep that lead. Pittsburgh needs Ben Roethlisberger to come back sooner rather than later, because Cincinnati could easily finish on a hot streak and nip them for second. For now, we project Pittsburgh to edge out the Bengals and take one of the two wildcard spots.
Houston is cruising to a division title, but the surprising Indianapolis Colts are in the thick of the wildcard race. If the Colts continue to hold serve at home and pick up one road win from among Detroit, Houston, and Kansas City, they will take the second wildcard berth. The schedule looks very favorable, because their three remaining home games are very winnable (especially if Houston does not need to win secure home field advantage in week 17.
This is the other division with little excitement. Peyton Manning proved he still has what it takes to win, and the Broncos are running away with the division title. San Diego is underachieving for more than likely the last year under Norv Turner.
The mediocrity division could possibly be won by an 8-8-0 team this year and should be won by a 9-7-0 team. The New York Giants swooned in the middle of their schedule last year, losing four in a row by an average of 13 points per game. They recovered to finish 9-7-0 but were outscored for the season before getting hot in the playoffs.
Dallas could easily be tied with the Giants by Sunday night, but don’t count out Washington yet. If the Redskins win on Thanksgiving Day, and the Giants lose to Green Bay, RGIII and company will be one game out of first, and the Giants still have to visit Fedex Field.
The old black and blue division is perhaps the most interesting race in the NFL. With Jay Cutler sidelined the last six quarters, Chicago has become the Cookie Monsters of the Midway. One Cutler comes back, the Bears should rebound, but Lovie Smith has to find a better way to provide Cutler protection.
Green Bay is not the power they were the last two seasons, but the Packers have enough horses remaining to get to 11-5 and guarantee themselves a playoff spot.
Minnesota is one of those teams that can be on and look like the Vikings of old or off and look like the Vikings of the last two years. The Purple and White’s schedule is too difficult to get to 10-6.
Atlanta built up too much of a lead to lose it, but New Orleans may be the better team at the present time. Then, there’s Tampa Bay. All three teams have enough talent and play well enough together to make a deep playoff run.
We believe the Buccaneers and Saints could finish in a tie for second, but one game shy of making it to the postseason.
San Francisco’s situation is somewhat like Minnesota’s. The 49ers can look like the 1985 Bears one week and the 2009 49er team the next. However, using interpolation, if they continue this 50-50 trait, they will finish 11-4-1, 10-5-1 at the least.
Seattle is the big intangible in the entire league. The Seahawks are tough at home and decent on the road. They could easily go 3-0 at home from here on, and they could win two of their three road games (Miami, Chicago, Buffalo). We believe Pete Carroll will be back in the playoffs this year. If the Seahawks can win out and nip San Francisco for the division title, nobody will want to visit Centurylink Field in January.
|New York Giants||9-7-0|
|Green Bay Packers||11-5-0|
|New Orleans Saints||9-7-0|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9-7-0|
|San Francisco 49ers||10-5-1|
|St. Louis Rams||4-11-1|
|New England Patriots||12-4-0|
|New York Jets||7-9-0|
|San Diego Chargers||6-10-0|
|Kansas City Chiefs||1-15-0|
Projected Playoff Seeds
A F C
3. New England
N F C
2. Green Bay
3. San Francisco
4. New York Giants
Indianapolis at New England
Pittsburgh at Denver
Seattle at San Francisco
Chicago at New York Giants
Lower Seeded Winner at Houston
Higher Seeded Winner at Baltimore
Lower Seeded Winner at Atlanta
Higher Seeded Winner at Green Bay
This Week’s PiRate Ratings
|New York Giants||104.8||103.9||103.4||103.0||2.5|
|Green Bay Packers||107.3||106.6||104.7||106.0||2.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||102.4||102.4||100.7||102.5||2.5|
|New Orleans Saints||102.3||103.5||104.1||105.0||3|
|San Francisco 49ers||109.9||108.2||105.0||106.5||2.5|
|St. Louis Rams||94.4||95.8||96.4||97.5||3.5|
|New England Patriots||110.4||108.3||104.8||106.0||2|
|New York Jets||99.3||98.1||96.9||97.0||3|
|San Diego Chargers||98.7||97.8||99.5||97.0||3|
|Kansas City Chiefs||89.5||88.9||88.7||88.5||2|
This Week’s PiRate Spreads
|New England||N. Y. JETS||8.1||7.2||4.9||6.0||6 1/2||48|
|Denver||KANSAS CITY||17.5||17.1||14.7||16.5||10 1/2||44|
|Atlanta||TAMPA BAY||0.2||1.7||3.6||3.5||1||48 1/2|
|6.2||3.0||4.0||-0.5||2 1/2||37 1/2|
|N. Y. GIANTS||Green Bay||0.0||-0.2||1.2||-0.5||2 1/2||49 1/2|