The absurdly premature 2011 playoff picture: Week 3

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.

• Say, who's that handsome stranger hanging out in the two-seed spot in the AFC? Why, it's the Houston Texans. Why the Texans? Because why the flip not? I see zero concrete arguments that could be made for San Diego, Baltimore or Pittsburgh ahead of Houston. The win against Miami wasn't what you'd call pretty, but it's a road win, and even the ugly road wins are pretty. They're 2-0, and the only other non-Patriots teams in the AFC that's 2-0 are the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

• However, as a 2-0 team, the Bills probably deserve their own bullet point. I like them, but not enough to include them here. They're on the radar, though, and if they'd happen to beat New England on Sunday, then of course, that would warrant re-evaluation.

• If we're giving out bullet points to 2-0 teams that didn't quite qualify, here's one for the Redskins. Congratulations. You're still not making the playoffs.

• Elsewhere in the AFC, there's just a bit of reshuffling, most notably, Pittsburgh back as a division champion, and Baltimore back as a wild card. If you're a Ravens fan and feeling snubbed, I don't blame you. Thirty-five to seven is a pretty good argument, but losing to the Titans does cut their legs out somewhat. It's a tough call to make, and when in doubt, I go with the better quarterback. As long as Big Ben is healthy, I see the Steelers of Week 16 looking much better than the Steelers of Week 2. Or the Ravens of Week 16.

• Over in the NFC, through three weeks, we've had three different champions in the West. This week, it's the 49ers, because lost in Tony Romo's Willis Reed performance was the fact that the 49ers very nearly went to 2-0. In the NFC West, very nearly accomplishing something is a big deal.

• The only other change is Atlanta sneaking into Chicago's old spot, and again, similar to the Pittsburgh/Baltimore situation above, Chicago fans have an argument. That argument goes something like, "30-12." I know. But I don't think that was indicative of what Atlanta's going to be like this season, and we already saw them rebound with an impressive win over a good Eagles team. And again, when in doubt, I go with the better quarterback.

• As far as the Bears go, try not to see this as an indictment of them; in fact, I thought they acquitted themselves pretty well in New Orleans. Sure, the final was 30-13, but the Bears played New Orleans tough through a lot of that game -- better than most teams probably will, especially in the dome. I believe in the Bears as a quality football team. Just not, at least in this particular week, a playoff team.

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