The absurdly premature 2011 playoff picture: Week 1

Shutdown Corner

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.

• I know. There's nothing in there that's a terribly bold choice. However, since there's almost always at least a 50 percent turnover rate in playoff teams from one year to the next, and I have significantly less than that, couldn't that itself be considered bold? I say yes, because sometimes I convince myself of ridiculous things in order to boost my self-esteem.

• Oddly enough, my preseason No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed in 2011 are identical to my preseason picks from last year. Hooray for consistency, Packers and Saints! Hooray for stubbornness, me!

• Teams I found most difficult to leave out: St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys.

• Teams it was somewhat difficult to leave out, but not really: Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts.

• Teams I considered throwing in because I think they could surprise, but mostly because it would have made me look edgy and daring: Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars.

• Included teams that were the closest to being left out: Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans.

• I do have the Jets winning the AFC East ahead of the Patriots, but don't read a whole lot into that. I see it as a very close race, with the teams splitting their regular-season matchups, and the division title coming down to the Most Points Scored on the Road by Players Who Have Enjoyed Taco Night at Riker's Island tiebreaker.

• I do feel weird not having the Colts in here, and I'm aware of the possibility that Peyton Manning will return in two weeks and make everyone feel really silly about the whole Demise-of-the-Colts thing. But I'm not sure I wouldn't have had the Texans in that spot anyway. I'm buying the notion that their defense will be respectable this year, and if it is, I think they're better than the Colts. Manning or no Manning.

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