Shutdown Corner - NFL

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.

The absurdly premature 2011 playoff picture: Week 5

• Oh, you Buffalo Bills. You make it so hard to love you sometimes. I trumpet your inclusion last week, and this week, you go out and lose to the Bengals. Now, a loss to the Bengals isn't as bad as it might seem on the surface -- they're somehow the best statistical defense in the league, and surely, the Bills were due for an emotional letdown after beating the Patriots. Unfortunately, you're going to have to recover this week against a team that's probably even needier than you are in the Philadelphia Eagles.

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• There has been very little movement this week; in fact, none at all in the AFC. It's true that the Chargers won and the Raiders lost, but the Chargers beat Miami, sans Chad Henne(notes), 26-16 at home. You fellas want a cookie for that? Oakland's loss was to the Patriots. If this happens again (and it might, as the Raiders play at Houston, and the Chargers at Denver this week), a two-game lead might be too hard to ignore. For now, I still believe that, head-to-head, the Raiders beat the Chargers. We don't find out until Week 10.

• I'd have been fine with stripping the Jets of their spot, but I don't know that there's a suitable replacement out there. Tennessee and San Diego are close, but I don't think the Jets are staying down for long. Well, maybe one more week. They have the Patriots on Sunday.

• The toughest thing to do this week was leave out the Redskins. Not just because I'm starting to believe in them, but because I so hate to disappoint the Mottram brothers. Unfortunately, I have to give the East to the Giants, and the last Wild Card to the Bears. I was ready to bail on the Bears, but then Matt Forte(notes) went and ran for 200 yards. Sure, it was just against the Panthers, but the Redskins also only won 17-10 against the sad-sack Rams.

• Tampa Bay was bumped, because I just didn't see enough from them on Monday night. I have only wishy-washy, non-tangible reasons for shoving them out the door (because all of my other reasons are so scientific), but I didn't think Josh Freeman(notes) was great and they gave up too many big plays. It wasn't the kind of win that wowed anybody, and the NFC's just too deep right now. You sit in the corner and think about that, Tampa Bay.

• On the subject of teams that didn't make it, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to need to get better in a hurry. Their next five weeks are @Buffalo, @Washington, Bye, Dallas, Chicago. No gimmes in there. I do believe they'll get better, but they're going to have to do it on the fly, against really good teams. Andy Reid's going to have to work some miracles.

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