Shutdown Corner Playoff Projection – Detroit Lions roaring back atop NFC North

Anwar S Richardson
Shutdown Corner

It's never too early to project what the playoff bracket will look like in January, even after just one week.

Through the season we'll try to guess what the NFL playoff picture will look like when the season ends. To see through which teams are for real, and which are going to collapse despite their great early-season record. You might be 6-2 at the halfway mark, but that doesn't mean you'll be standing on top of your division at the end. It's important to note this is our ever-changing prediction of how we think things will play out and not necessarily a current plugging-in of teams with the corresponding records.

Think of it as "bracketology" for the pigskin set.

I see you reconciled with Detroit. So the Lions are the kings of the NFC North again?
I change NFC North winners more than most entertainers switch outfits during a concert. Detroit is 3-1 and was very impressive during a 40-32 win against Chicago in Week 4. If Reggie Bush can stay healthy, Detroit is a hard team to beat. The Lions' defensive line, led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, has been very impressive, too.

Really ... is Green Bay going to miss the playoffs?
If Green Bay does not solve its defensive problems, yes. Green Bay is giving up an average of 29.3 points per game, and that puts too much pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I love what Eddie Lacy brings to Green Bay’s rushing attack, but this team has to improve defensively.

Nobody would have been upset if you put New Orleans back at the No. 1 seed, you know.
New Orleans was my Super Bowl winner prior to the season, and I am staying with them. Feel free to ignore that I also had the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl. New Orleans is at Chicago, while Seattle travels to Indianapolis, this weekend. Let’s see what happens in those games before we switch No.1 teams.

The Patriots are back atop the AFC East. You're a believer again?
What impresses me about New England is this team does not skip a beat. We are finally learning the names of offensive players without “Brady” on the back of their jersey, and Bill Belichick continues to prove he still is a genius - with or without a hoodie.

Is there any way the Broncos don't get the No. 1 seed in the AFC?
Only if Eli Manning sneaks into the stadium and takes his brother’s place.

Aside from Green Bay, what's the best team that will miss the playoffs this season?
Atlanta (1-3) is digging a hole right now, mostly because of injuries. The Falcons are fortunate to be in the NFC, a conference that has only four teams with winning records. There is a huge possibility a 9-7 team could make the NFC playoffs, but Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel, running back Steve Jackson and receiver Roddy White need to get healthy fast.

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