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 York Jets
AFC West Champ:
San Diego Chargers
NFC East Champ:
NFC West Champ:
San Francisco 49ers
• I know, Ravens fans. You're mad. Not only did you drop from the second seed to out of the playoffs completely, but the team taking your place is the Steelers. Your purple Zubaz must be in quite the bunch right now. I understand. It's justified.
The numbers just squeezed you out this week. I suspect you'll be back soon, provided that Joe Flacco(notes) can rebound into the form of a decent quarterback, following that 17-of-39, four-interception day. You probably feel very optimistic about that. My enthusiasm level for Flacco is probably a bit lower.
• I have no play other than to move the Jets into the AFC East Champions slot, after the clobbering of the Patriots. I'm curious to see what happens against Miami on Sunday night, though. Mark Sanchez(notes) will face a defense better than what the Jets saw against the Patriots, and they'll have to cover Brandon Marshall(notes) without Darrelle Revis(notes). Intriguing game.
• The Titans cling to one of the Wild-Card spots, despite the loss to the Steelers. As you may have noticed, I think the Steelers are pretty good, so I'm not going to penalize anyone too harshly for that. I just hope that Jeff Fisher hasn't destroyed Vince Young's(notes) confidence.
• I don't feel good about the New England Patriots in that last spot. I just wanted to get that on the record. Their pass defense is going to kill them. Baltimore's the team I most wanted to put in their spot, but when there's any doubt, I lean towards the better quarterback.
• You know what? I'm riding the Michael Vick(notes) wave. I'm embracing it. The Cowboys have been a massive disappointment, the Giants just got throttled, and the Redskins still have a few things to prove. Why can't the Eagles win that thing? Why can't they turn into a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Why can't Michael Vick become America's most beloved athle--OK, I'm getting carried away. But still, I'm aboard the Vick bandwagon for as long as I can be.
• San Francisco's noble performance in defeat was enough to earn them the NFC West title spot. Seattle getting jackhammered helps, too, and I believe the Cardinals have been mathematically eliminated. If the 49ers had lost by 17, I don't know what I'd have done here. The Las Vegas Locomotives may have gotten the nod.
• Atlanta edges Washington for the final spot. You look at the Falcons' two-week résumé, and they've got a blowout win and a narrow loss to a good team. I'll take that over Washington's flukey win over the Cowboys and their narrow loss to the Texans, who might be good, but who might also have just a shockingly bad defense.