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Shutdown Corner Playoff Projection – Saints and Broncos on collision course to the Super Bowl

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It's never too early to project what the playoff bracket will look like in January.

Through the season we'll try to guess what the NFL playoff picture will look like when the season ends. To see which teams are for real, and which are going to collapse despite their great early season record. You might be 6-2 at the halfway mark, but that doesn't mean you'll be standing on top of your division at the end. It's important to note this is our ever-changing prediction of how we think things will play out and not necessarily a current plugging-in of teams with the corresponding records.

Think of it as "bracketology" for the pigskin set.

(Check out last week's Shutdown Corner Playoff Projection here.)

Not much change this week. Have the top teams in the NFL already separated themselves from the rest?

[Watch: Why the Steelers will upset the Patriots]

I think we all know the difference between Denver and Jacksonville by now. Kansas City is the one team that could shock us and win the AFC West. Denver is still the AFC’s best team, but if Kansas City’s defense can attack Peyton Manning, who is currently dealing with ankle injuries, the Chiefs could shake up the AFC.

What do you think the chances are of the 49ers beating out the Seahawks for the NFC West?

San Francisco has a shot, but the impending return of Seattle receiver Percy Harvin will make that task very difficult. Seattle’s defense continues to play well, and safety Earl Thomas is having another Pro Bowl season. I am sticking with Seattle until proven otherwise.

If the Saints get that No. 1 seed, could anyone beat them at the Superdome?

It will be extremely difficult. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw five touchdowns during a recent victory against Buffalo at home, and it is hard to believe there are many quarterbacks in the NFC that can hang with him in the playoffs. The emergence of Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy, coupled with the eventual return of Randall Cobb, could make the Packers dangerous in the postseason. However, New Orleans is the team to beat.

If the Patriots falter, is Miami good enough to take the AFC East from them? What about the Jets?

Miami has a better chance to finish with the NFL lead in sacks (32 so far) than make the playoffs. The Dolphins have dropped four consecutive games and are failing to live up to their preseason hype – again. I like the New York Jets, but rookie quarterback Geno Smith is very inconsistent. It is hard to believe New England can give away this division.

Is there any scenario you can envision in which Dallas doesn't win the NFC East?

Not at all. Philadelphia does not have a good quarterback and the Eagles’ three wins (Tampa Bay, Washington and New York Giants) are against squads with a 4-18 combined record. Washington’s defense is bad and New York’s entire team is horrible. If Dallas cannot win this division, the Cowboys should never be taken seriously again.

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Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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