by Scott Benson
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
You know what’s a great Thanksgiving tradition? Wildly speculating about playoff seedings that won’t be sown for another month and a half yet. Try it with your Grandma today. Here’s a few fun facts to get the ball rolling:
Naturally, we know already that the undefeated Pats still hold the number one seed, leading by two in the loss column with six to play. This Sunday, when they meet the Eagles, the Pats can tie a league record by clinching their division in 11 games. They can get in with a win on their own, or by a Buffalo loss at Jacksonville. You gotta like their chances, generally.
The slumping Indianapolis Colts managed to scrape by at home against Kansas City, holding on to the South division lead and regaining the #2 seed that they had vacated a week ago.
The team that replaced them, albeit briefly, was North division leader the Pittsburgh Steelers, who fell back to #3 when the Jets upset them at the Meadowlands. I’m sure it wasn’t because the Steelers strutted in there after listening all week to how great they are, and agreeing.
In the West, the Chargers hang on to the division lead and the accompanying 4th seed, despite losing to the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Denver’s win over the declining Titans (two straight losses to potential playoff teams) on Monday night brought the Broncos to a tie for the division lead, but San Diego’s present head-to-head advantage gives them the edge here, though there’s still one game remaining between the teams.
Jacksonville’s consecutive wins over Tennessee and San Diego have put them right on the tail of the Colts in the South, and the clear edge for the first of two wild card spots.
The Titans are lucky they didn’t lose their 6th spot to the Browns, who went to 6-4 with their dramatic win over the Ravens. But as it stands today, the Titans keep their spot by virtue of the Strength of Victory tiebreaker. Still, with a month and a half left, Cleveland finds itself in a real playoff race in Romeo Crennel’s third season.
The Bills and Texans lag a step behind, and the Ravens and Chiefs even further, through Kansas City could still scramble back into the West race, because, well, the West stinks.
Let’s roll out the Big Board for another week.
Still six games left. Best not to take anything for granted – after all, that gets the Steelers every time.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Eagles at Patriots – Hat and t-shirt game.
Colts at Falcons – The NFL Network gets its first regular season game tonight, so hunker down for six weeks of NFL/cable fire. The fact that the Colts, struggling as they are, didn’t find a way to lose that game to the Chiefs last week is a testament to them, I think.
Dolphins at Steelers – A Dolphins upset here would make this the greatest Thanksgiving long weekend ever.
Ravens at Chargers – Did you know that the Chargers are 25th against the pass and 23rd against the run? And defense is their strength.
Bills at Jaguars – Buffalo has to win in Jacksonville if its going to have any shot at a wild card, I think. The Jags have really come back since losing to the Saints three weeks ago. They go to Indy next week – will they look beyond this one?
Titans at Bengals – Tennessee looked like the real threat to the Colts a few weeks ago, but you have to wonder about that now. Their whole offense seems to be Vince Young running out of the shotgun. Their defense is top ranked, but they’ve been pounded the last two weeks. A legit group should be able to manage the 3-7 Bengals, even on the road, so it will be interesting to see how this one works out.
Texans at Browns – The Browns are seemingly headed in the opposite direction with a 2-1 record over their last three, including that near-miss in Pittsburgh. They’re getting that old Cleveland Cinderella thing going, from the dramatic kick returns to the bank shot field goals. They’re only one game back in the division. This will all look great on NFL Films someday. They need to dispatch Houston at home to keep the momentum going, and once again, the way they handle that task will be telling.
Broncos at Bears – A mediocre team in the perfect division for it. And Snidely Shanahan at the controls. Now that’s evil.