The absurdly premature playoff picture presents one man's predictions for the NFL playoffs, each given week in the season -- even if that week is unreasonably early.
AFC East Champ:
New England Patriots
AFC West Champ:
San Diego Chargers
NFC East Champ:
New York Giants
NFC West Champ:
• The Bob Sanders(notes) injury tempts me to slide the Colts down the ladder more than the loss to the Texans does. And I do apologize for invalidating that Texans win at every opportunity. I feel like I'm being kind of a jerk to the Texans. When I think long-term, though, about which teams will hold up best through November and December, I've got to put my trust in Peyton Manning(notes). Sorry.
• Speaking of invalidating wins -- and yes, this opinion is heavily biased -- the Chiefs' win over the Chargers was a textbook example of a "the better team just kind of ran out of time" game. Goofy weather always helps the underdog, the Chargers made a few mistakes that snowballed, and the Arrowhead crowd provides the most tangible boost to a home team in the league. Long-term, I'll still take the Chargers.
• The Ravens went on the road and beat the Jets. To me, that's the Gigantic Plums win of the week, and earns the Ravens a first-round bye.
• The Steelers' win might've been ugly, but that was a pretty good team they beat. More specifically, that was a pretty good offense they shut down. When Roethlisberger returns, everything gets easier offensively.
• Aaron Rodgers(notes) is still the knife that butters the bread in Green Bay, but I think the loss of Ryan Grant(notes) will hurt more than people think. Brandon Jackson(notes) isn't on Grant's level, and behind Jackson on the depth chart is ... I don't know. Edgar Bennett, maybe. Anyway, Buffalo, Chicago and Detroit are up next on the schedule, so the Packers get some time to adjust.
• Did I love the Seahawks' thumping of the 49ers enough to immediately make them a playoff team? Not really, but what else am I going to do? It's certainly not going to be the Rams. The Cardinals barely managed to beat those Rams, and the 49ers not only got drilled, but are in midseason form, as far as bickering and whining goes. Seattle's 2010 marketing campaign should be, "BY DEFAULT!"
• I've got one more win to invalidate: Redskins over Cowboys. Honestly, tell me if you felt like Washington did anything to reach out and grab that game by the throat, or if the Cowboys handed it to them. I don't believe the mistakes the Cowboys made are the type that will repeat themselves. At least, not as soon as Marc Colombo(notes) gets back in the lineup.
• For at least one week, I'm going to indulge myself in the wild fantasy that Michael Vick(notes) will find football redemption this year, lead the Eagles to the playoffs, and become a respected locker room leader. Yeah, I'm getting ahead of myself, but it's a story I'd love, especially if it seemed like Michael Vick had grown and matured along the way. I'm putting in a vote of confidence for this storyline right now.