Shutdown Corner - NFL

The absurdly premature playoff picture presents one man's predictions for the NFL playoffs, each given week in the season -- even if that week is unreasonably early.

• The NFC Champion might as well be determined by a blindfolded Todd Collins(notes) playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Look at the two best options I could come up with: One of them just barely beat the Cleveland Browns, and the other one is currently starting Kevin Kolb(notes). Don't judge me. I had nowhere else to turn.

• Despite the squeaker against Cleveland, Atlanta's got a pretty solid case otherwise. The only time they looked dominant was in Week 2 against the Cardinals, but they did also beat the Super Bowl champs on the road, and their only loss was to the Steelers at home. That's as good as it gets in the NFC right now.

• And yeah, the Eagles. Sorry. You could argue for the Packers or Redskins, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong, but at this point, it's like trying to pick the most handsome member of the cast of "Pawn Stars."

• I probably would've kept Green Bay in the top two were it not for the injury to Jermichael Finley(notes), whom Jon Gruden calls "The Big Cheese," because Jon Gruden really likes to call people ridiculous names. It's a significant loss. Finley worked the middle of the field and created mismatches, and if teams no longer have to worry about him, it gets way easier to defend everyone else.

• Fun fact: The current leader of the NFC West, in five games, has been outscored by 50 points.

• The Rams are staying atop the NFC West. Congratulations? I'm sorry, but the Cardinals could win their next six games, and they're still not getting a spot here. Cute little win, but I refuse to believe that Arizona's a decent team.

• Welcome, Redskins. It would have been absurd for me to snub you any longer. You've beaten good teams and you deserve to be here, regardless of whether or not the NFC looks like a bigger, better-attended UFL. I am now a believer.

• And speaking of absurd snubs, let's move to the AFC, where I'm also forced to stop ignoring the Chiefs. The effort they put up on the road against the Colts was their most impressive performance yet. I still don't think Matt Cassel(notes) is even an average quarterback, but here's what I do believe: I believe Charlie Weis can effectively hide Cassel, I believe the Kansas City defense is no joke, and I believe there's some serious talent in their running game. I hereby apologize for ignoring the Chiefs for this long. I am dumb.

• I'm clinging to the Colts on top. It's true that they've failed to separate themselves from the rest of the AFC South, but again, over time, I think that will rectify itself.

• The Titans return to the fold on the strength of a road win against Dallas. Other teams considered for that last spot included the Texans, Patriots, Jaguars and Chargers, but when I look at that group of teams, the Titans seem like the most stable bunch. They can run the ball, they're good up front offensively, they're giving up fewer than 20 points a game, and they don't constantly shoot themselves in the foot. None of those other teams can say that.

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