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BB's Early Bird Playoff Predictions
By Matthew Campbell
Special to paydirtfootball.com

The Early Bird either gets the Worm or Freezes to death after returning too soon from their Tropical Vacation.

I figure it's time to take the early risk and call it like I see it. Here is how I predict the rest of the season to play out and which teams will gain entry into the playoffs.
Post Your Disagreements and Let the Discussion Roll On!


AFC North

At 10-2 now and a very difficult team to beat. They will win THREE of their remaining four games and finish 13-3. That record will earn them a First Round BYE.

AFC East

Even though they are at 10-3, they face the 49ers, the Broncos, and the Dolphins to finish out the season. They will stumble in this closing lap and win ONE of their remaining three games to finish 11-5. That record will earn them a Wildcard Birth.

The Phins are just hitting their stride at 9-4 and have the talent to win out in games against the Cardinals, the Jets, and the Patriots. They'll end up with a 12-4 record and take the division.

The ability to stay at .500 will continue as they face the 49ers, the Bills, the Dolphins, and the Chargers. Gang Green will finish at 8-8, winning half and losing half of their remaining matches. A .500 record will not be enough to make the playoffs.

AFC South

Three games remain and all three are brutal - the Lions, the Steelers, and the Chiefs. Considering the manic nature of this club it's conceivable that all three will be L's, but Tom Brady will step it up and lead the team to take TWO of those three games. A 10-6 record will get the Jags a Wildcard birth.

Fortunately for the Jaguars, the Titans, Texans, and Colts finish out the season with significant divisional matches. Currently at 7-5, the Titans need to win more than they lose. Their next four opponents are Houston, Indianapolis, Houston, and Minnesota, all playoff candidates. They will win TWO of those four games and barely miss the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

Three of the four remaining matches are divisional games. All of the division opponents are playoff contenders. Matt Schaub and gang will step on the accelerator and win THREE of these four games, finish at 10-6, and take the division title due to their divisional record.

Peyton Manning has been performing this season like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, getting buried by the Jags one week and annihilating the Jags two weeks later. This act will continue through the rest of the season against the Vikings, the Titans, the Pakcers, and the Texans. That is a tough row to hoe and the Colts will win ONE of the remaining four games to finish 8-8, missing the playoffs.

AFC West

The Chiefs have been impressive all season and have the right schedule to finish strong. The group of the Raiders, Panthers, and Jaguars should not be too challenging and Kansas City should win TWO of those three games to finish 12-4. That record will give them the division title.

The record 7-5 is a very tenuous place to be in the AFC. The remaining schedule is not too difficult but it is loaded with teams that would love the chance to ruin the Broncos' season - the Buccaneers, the Panthers, the Patriots, and the Raiders. Denver will split those games and finish 9-7, missing the playoffs.

AFC Playoff Teams will be: Pittsburgh, Miami, New England, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City


NFC North

Two of the remaining three opponents are playoff candidates, decreasing the likelyhood of a easy trip into the playoffs. Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Green Bay will give Detroit all they can and the Lions will win ONE of those three games. They will finish 10-6 and earn a Wildcard birth.

Although they are currently a game behind first place in the division, the remaining schedule is a little more negotiable. The Colts and the Titans will present a challenge, but the Vikings should expect wins over the Bears and Buccaneers. Finishing with a 10-6 record will give them the division title considering the tie breaker.

NFC East

Can Tony Romo win the big game??? We'll soon find out as the Cowboys should win TWO of their remaining four games against Baltimore, NY Giants, Cincinnati, and Arizona. That will give them a 10-6 record and the division title.

Philly is in a precarious situation at 6-6. With the Giants, Redskins, Lions, and Bengals remaining on the schedule, they have the ability to win THREE of four. That a strong finish but it will not be enough to be invited to the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

NFC South

Three games left against three opponents that will be preparing for the draft as the playoffs begin - the Falcons, the Buccaneers, and the Giants. Will the motivation to be a spoiler be enough for the opponents to pull upset victories? Unlikely, but still possible. The Saints will win TWO of their remaining three games and finish 12-4 to get a First round BYE.

Of the next four games, the Panthers can only lose one to assure themselves a playoff birth. Against the Cardinals, the Broncos, the Chiefs, and the Bears, only one loss is very unlikely if not impossible. The impossible has been achieved before but it will not happen this time. The Panthers will win ONE of their last four games and finish the season 8-8, missing the playoffs.

NFC West

They are a completely new franchise this season and the transformation will continue into next. Winning the current popularity contest does not mean the games against the Panthers, Dolphins, 49ers, and Cowboys will be anywhere close to simple. Expect the Cardinals to drop half, winning TWO out of these four, and finishing at 12-4 and the division title.

Last season's Champion will gain another birth into the playoffs. The remaining schedule of the Jets, the Patriots, the Cardinals, and the Seahawks is less stressful than other playoff contenders even though two of the four opponents are playoff bound themselves. The Niners will take THREE of the remaining four games and finish 12-4. That will get them into the playoffs with a Wildcard birth, not the division title.

NFC Playoff Teams will be: Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas, New Orleans, Arizona, San Francisco

*Predictions posted during Week 14 after these games have been completed: Miami at St Louis, New Orleans at Kansas City, Buffalo at New England, Jacksonville at Green Bay, Oakland at Atlanta, and Chicago at Detroit.
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