The maybe slightly premature 2010 playoff picture: Week 13

December 8, 2010

• This always gets to be less fun this time of year, because it's no longer about the teams I think are better, but instead about numbers, schedules and probability. Those are the reasons the Chiefs and the Jaguars make the cut this week. I always feel like a jackass when I'm adding new teams this late in the season.

• As for the Chiefs, I still think they lose to San Diego this weekend. But even if they do, they'll retain a one-game lead in the division, with a remaining schedule that isn't terribly difficult. San Diego's remaining games aren't killers, either, but at this point, I've got to play the numbers. They lean towards Kansas City. I can still see San Diego winning out, while the Chiefs drop the game to the Chargers and one more, but I can't figure out how much of that's my heart, and how much is my head. Last week's beating at the hands of the Raiders makes me want to play it safe.

• Speaking of the Raiders, it's a similar numbers game for them. They'd also have to make up two games in four weeks, and their remaining game against KC is on the road.

• The Colts are only one game back of the Jaguars, and they get to play them at home, which is nice. But the Colts need to win that one to possibly get the tiebreakers on their side. There are also the small matters of the Colts not being very good at playing football lately, and Peyton Manning(notes) throwing interceptions like his name is Brett Favre(notes).

• On that topic, what we're seeing from Manning right now isn't anything more than a rare slump. A severe one, but still, just a slump. The Colts can't run the ball, the defense can't stop anyone and Manning feels (rightly) like he has to do everything himself. So he forces some throws he wouldn't otherwise make, to receivers he wouldn't otherwise trust. I expect that he'll rip the Titans to shreds Thursday night. He'll be more comfortable and make better decisions when he knows he won't have to score 35 points to win. Right now, the Titans couldn't score 35 points in 60 minutes on an empty field.

• Nothing else in the AFC requires further explanation, does it? I was considering the Jets for a first-round bye, but I didn't know until Monday night that they weren't actually a football team, but instead, 53 cleverly disguised concubines for the New England Patriots.

• The Saints and the Falcons could be playing for home-field throughout the playoffs when they meet in Week 16. The game's in Atlanta, and the Falcons also won the first meeting, if you're curious. Say New Orleans wins, though. Then they've split the head-to-head games, will likely have matching division records, and the tiebreaker would then be record in common games. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to figure that one out until I have to.

• I've got the Eagles overtaking the Bears for the second seed. I've been hating on the Bears this long, why stop now? Their last four games are New England, at Minnesota, the Jets and at Green Bay. There's no way they aren't losing at least two of those. I could even be talked into four.

• Right now, I've got the Giants as the team squeezed out by the unfortunate representative of the NFC West. I don't feel great about it, because I do think the Giants are a quality team. I can't convince myself that the NFC East is a two-playoff team division, though. Someone had to be left out. Sorry.

• It seems possible, perhaps even likely, that Wild Card Weekend will feature four teams, all Wild Cards, all on the road, favored to win their games. I'm guessing that would be a first.