September 14, 2011
The absurdly premature playoff picture presents one man's projection for the NFL playoffs, at each given week in the season -- even if that week is unreasonably early.
• Right now, you are witnessing history. The Detroit Lions appear in the Absurdly Premature Playoff Picture for the first time in the history of the Detroit Lions or the A3P. Three reasons: Matthew Stafford(notes), Calvin Johnson(notes) and a run defense that held LeGarrette Blount(notes) to 15 yards on five carries and Earnest Graham(notes) to 13 yards on six carries. On the road against a quality team, Detroit put down one of the most impressive wins in Week 1.
• New rule: When you give up 422 yards to Cam Newton in his first professional start, you lose your spot here. Taking Arizona's place is the St. Louis Rams, the most impressive NFC West team of Week 1, despite losing 31-13.
• Speaking of that Rams/Eagles game, Michael Vick(notes) did not have a great day passing, despite getting away with a handful of really risky throws. The good news for them is that that can happen, and they can still win 31-13 on the road. They'll take the Giants' spot atop the NFC East, and mea culpa there: I drastically underestimated the impact of the Giants' injury problems. Either that, or Rex Grossman(notes) is going to be an All-Pro this season. I'm sticking with the former explanation.
• Also out: the Atlanta Falcons. I do still think they're going to be very good in 2011, but it's hard to justify putting them in and leaving the Chicago Bears out after, you know, this happened. The vaunted NFC South took the big 0-fer in Week 1. Chicago @ New Orleans is an interesting Week 2 matchup.
• Over in the AFC, the teams are all the same, but the deck is reshuffled. I didn't necessarily intend for that to be the case, but tell me, who on the outside would you put inside? You buying Buffalo yet? The Bengals? Either team from that Jaguars/Titans showdown that was the AFC's answer to 49ers/Seahawks?
• The main beneficiaries here are the Jets, Steelers and Chargers. The Jets would've probably hung on anyway, but they deserved to lose at home, and would've, if not for Tony Romo(notes) having a gigantic Romo fit at the worst possible time. The Steelers were beaten unmercifully. And the Chargers, despite all the talk about fixing the special teams and avoiding a slow start, played poorly on special teams and started very slowly. I'm starting to think that Norv Turner is not a master motivator.
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