Shutdown Corner Playoff Projection – Packers and Chiefs are wild-card teams

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.

(Check out last week's Shutdown Corner Playoff Projection here.)

Now that word comes down from Yahoo's Les Carpenter that linebacker Jerod Mayo might be out for the season, how long can the Patriots hang onto the No. 2 seed with all these injuries?

Obviously, that is another huge blow to a defense already without Vince Wilfork. Nevertheless, it is hard to believe any other team in the AFC East will win that division. New England is still talented enough to finish with at least 11 wins, and that should keep the Patriots in contention for that No. 2 spot.

That race for the No. 6 seed in the AFC is pretty intense, why Baltimore over San Diego or Miami?
Baltimore has players that know how to win down the stretch. Yes, the Ravens are 3-3 right now, but this team understands the marathon mentality needed to win in January and February. I am staying with the defending Super Bowl champions until the Ravens prove otherwise.

I see you love Detroit again.
The Lions and I are like the relationships before my wife – on one week, off the next. If Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush are healthy, this is the team to beat in the NFC North. Green Bay will be without receiver Randall Cobb for eight weeks, which is a huge blow to that offense, while Chicago has only defeated one team with a winning record this season (Cincinnati). This is Detroit’s division to lose.

Is Cincinnati for real? Andy Dalton looked good on Sunday, but letting Thad Lewis-led Buffalo take you to overtime?
The Bengals are a good team. Cincinnati will probably make the playoffs. However, if you are asking if this team can do more than that, the answer is no. Lewis played well against Cincinnati, and even though Dalton was named AFC offensive player of the week, he is still 0-2 in the playoffs.

Is there any way Seattle would win a NFC championship game at New Orleans, or vice versa?
That is a trick question because you know I picked New Orleans to win the Super Bowl prior to this season. That being said, Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin is almost ready to play, and he could add another dimension to that offense. I am staying with Saints, but that Marshawn Lynch touchdown run against New Orleans in the playoffs is still embedded in my memory.

Denver or Indianapolis on Sunday night, who do ya got?
I am going with Denver. Like Colts owner Jim Irsay said, Peyton Manning is great during the regular season.

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Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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