By Chris Lehman
Week 11 is underway and started off in dramatic fashion as we witnessed Tim Tebow rally the new-look Broncos to a win against the self-proclaimed Super Bowl champion New York Jets.
As the bulk of the games approach, teams are sensing just how close the playoff race is this year. Every game is important now so expect to see a lot of battling this weekend as the sense of urgency increases.
1. New England Patriots (6-3) – The Pats are only one win behind the Steelers and the Texans for the conference lead. Looking at the remainder of the schedule, there’s no reason why the Patriots should lose again…unless they also fall to “Team Tebow” week15.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) – They are currently on top of their conference and with only two games against capable teams remaining, it should stay that way.
3. Houston Texans (7-3) – Yes, the Texans lost starting quarterback, Matt Schaub. But through this point in the year, it has been a combination of the stellar play of their defense and Arian Foster going “beast mode” that has gotten them where they are. Sure the loss will hurt them, but not enough to destroy them.
4. Denver Broncos (5-5) – I’m convinced. Since Tebow has taken over for the Broncos, they have been 4-1. Run DMC is hurt so that should create a decent gap between the Broncos and the Raiders. And while the Chargers usually play very well from this point of the year on, I don’t see them doing the same this year.
5. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) – My preseason pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Four of the Ravens’ games from here on out are potentially tough ones. I don’t see them winning the division, but easily make the wildcard.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) – It really must suck to be the Cleveland Browns. When someone says that three out of a division’s four teams will make the playoffs, and EVERYONE (Cleveland included) knows that it’s their team that didn’t make the cut.
1. Green Bay Packers (9-0) – As of now, they’re easily the best team in football. There’s no question about this one.
2. San Francisco 49ers (8-1) – They are the surprise team of the year. Part of their success is due to the lack of difficulty in their schedule. Playing the Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks pretty much guarantees at least six wins. Even with their record, I don’t see them as one of the premier teams in the league. But with the remaining games on their schedule, they should finish with the second best NFC record.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-3) – My preseason NFC Super Bowl contender. I consider them the second best team in the league behind the Packers. The NFC South was supposed to be the best division in football this year between the “Youngry” Buccaneers, the soaring Falcons and the Panthers led by No. 1 overall pick, Cam Newton. It hasn’t quite turned out that way, leaving the Saints to take the division.
4. Dallas Cowboys (5-4) – This is the most confusing and hard to predict division in the league. I would love to see the Eagles put it together and reach their potential, but I just don’t see that happening. The Giants are hot right now, but their remaining schedule consists of the Packers, Saints, Jets and two games against the Cowboys. America’s Team has a much smoother road.
5. Chicago Bears (6-3) – Currently tied with the Lions for second in the NFC North. The main difference being, the Lions play the Packers twice and the Saints once. Chicago doesn’t. Da Bears get da fifth spot.
6. Detroit Lions (6-3) – This last spot is set aside for the Lions and the Packers. I figure the Giants and Cowboys will split the series and they’ll lose to the Saints, Packers and Jets. The Lions only lose the two games against the Packers and to the Saints, giving them ten wins as opposed to the Giants’ nine.