Shutdown Corner - NFL

AFC First-Round Byes:
Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers

Other AFC Divisional Champions:
New York Jets
Denver Broncos

AFC Wild Cards:
Baltimore Ravens
New England Patriots

NFC First-Round Byes:
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints

Other NFC Divisional Champions:
Minnesota Vikings
San Francisco 49ers

NFC Wild Cards:
Philadelphia Eagles
Chicago Bears

See last week's absurdly premature playoff picture here.

• Not a coincidence: Four of the top five quarterbacks in this week's Quarterback Power Rankings lead teams in the "First Round Bye" spots. Way more often that not, good quarterback = good team.

• The AFC is a land of tumult and upheaval, while the NFC is a placid like of stability. Only one AFC team remains in the same position it was in last week, while only one NFC team is changed.

• Concerning the Denver Broncos finally breaking in, it was just time. It didn't make sense to hold them out any longer. They're real. Mike Nolan has somehow crafted the defense into something that is far greater than the sum of its parts, and Josh McDaniels's has an offense that makes Kyle Orton(notes) look good. His quarterback rating is 97.7, and he has yet to throw an interception.

I don't know how they're doing it, but it's happening, and I can't deny it any longer. Even Brandon Marshall(notes) appears to have his stuff together. I don't know what to say, other than that I was wrong, I am very very dumb, and I should send Josh McDaniels the "I'm Sorry Bouquet" from FTD. Next time you come over, Merlin Olsen, you can help me out with that.

• Despite a 2-2 record, I gave the Steelers a first-round bye. Why? Well, no one else has really grabbed it, as Mark Sanchez(notes) and the Jets fell back to earth a little bit this week, Baltimore lost to New England, and New England's still got some shaping up to do. Long-term, I just like the way Ben Roethlisberger's(notes) playing, I like that they'll get better with Troy Polamalu(notes) back, and I like the signs of life from Rashard Mendenhall(notes).

• The Bears were the one team to sneak into the NFC picture, dislodging Atlanta. Perhaps that's a little unfair, as Atlanta was off this week, but I like what the Bears are doing. If you toss out Week 1, where Jay Cutler(notes) threw something like 89 interceptions, they've got a nice résumé: three wins, no losses, a win over Pittsburgh and only five teams in the league that have scored more points than they have.

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