Shutdown Corner - NFL

The absurdly premature 2011 playoff picture: Week 11

• We're going to wait until the end to discuss the Cowboys, because I find their inclusion here to be a tremendous source of personal shame.

• Related to that, though, the Detroit Lions have fallen out of the A3P for the first time since Week 1. The decision came down to three teams for the two NFC wild-card spots: the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. Somebody had to go, and Chicago's won its last four, Dallas won three of its last four, and Detroit has lost three of its last four. The nature of the Lions' last loss was a factor, too -- they really didn't even compete against the Bears. They should get well against Carolina this weekend, and then it's Green Bay and @New Orleans.

• I moved the New Orleans Saints ahead of the New York Giants in the NFC seeding, due mostly to New York's brutal remaining schedule, which includes New Orleans, the Green Bay Packers, the New York Jets and Dallas twice. Fortunately, they'll get to settle this issue on the field in a couple of weeks on Monday night.

• The Houston Texans are likely to be a controversial No. 1 seed in the AFC, but I don't think yanking the top spot away is warranted just yet. Don't they at least deserve a chance to see if Matt Leinart(notes) has a career resurgence in him? And how amazing would it be if he did? He's been laying low for a while -- I don't think I've heard one word about him since he signed with the Texans. Maybe he's been spending all that time devouring the playbook and studying like Whitley Gilbert from "A Different World." For a top ten overall draft pick that washed out into a backup, opportunities don't get much better than this. I'm rooting for Leinart to crush it.

• The Baltimore Ravens are all the way out after losing to Seattle, with the AFC's wild-card spots going to the Jets and Cincinnati Bengals. I had room for just one inconsistent, up-and-down, effort-comes-and-goes team this week, and it went to Dallas. Sorry. Opportunity awaits with a game against the Bengals this weekend, though.

• Why the Jets? I'm not sure I have a great explanation for that, actually, other than the fact that I didn't want to give the spot to Baltimore, I'm not buying the Tennessee Titans and there's no way the AFC West is getting two teams.

• Speaking of the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders are back in, because how could they be denied after the San Diego Chargers made it so clear on Thursday night that they wanted the Raiders to win the division? They've got a one-game lead and play the Vikings this week, while the Chargers have the Bears, the Broncos have the Jets and the Chiefs have the Patriots. Time for making hay.

• Back to Dallas. Sigh. I look at the roster and how they've played the last couple of weeks, and I'm fine with the call. Dez Bryant(notes) continues his emergence toward being one of the best in the game, Laurent Robinson(notes) has made an impact, DeMarco Murray(notes) is a beast and for some reason, I believe in Tony Romo(notes). But they've suckered me so many times before. Every time I break down and give them a spot, they turn around and get pasted by whatever group of scrubs appears on their schedule next. I am probably doing a tremendous favor to the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins or Arizona Cardinals -- the next three teams on Dallas' schedule.

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