Downey's Dozen: Predicting The NFL Playoffs After 11 Weeks

Eleven weeks of the NFL are now complete, and we have a solid idea of which teams are legitimate playoff threats. This list accounts for team's schedules as well as their divisions, unlike standard Power Rankings. With that in mind, here are my projections for the NFL Playoffs after 11 weeks.  


1. New England Patriots

The Patriots look like the best team in the NFL. The offense has been great and Tom Brady is torching every defense he faces. It's Super Bowl or bust again for the Patriots. 

2. Cincinnati Bengals 

The AFC North is tough, but the Bengals have looked great so far. Losses to the Texans and Cardinals sting, but every single Bengals fan would have taken an 8-2 record at the start of the season. A late December game against Denver could determine who gets the No. 2 seed. 

3. Denver Broncos 

Denver's defense is worthy of a No. 1 seed, but the offense looks like a non-playoff contender's. Peyton Manning is now hurt and it might be Brock Osweiler's team going forward. The offense did look better with him at the helm.   

4. Indianapolis Colts 

The Colts are 5-5, and while I have plenty of concerns, they still play in the AFC South. Someone has to win that division, and it should be the Colts. Getting to play the Jaguars, Titans and Texans twice each year is a huge boost for their record. Plus, wins over Denver and Atlanta do wonders for the Colts' confidence and playoff hopes. The Texans have a shot, especially with Andrew Luck out, but this is the Colts' division to lose. 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger has battled through injuries and with him at the helm, the Steelers are a playoff team. The Steelers are now 6-4 and in great position for a wild card spot. The AFC North, however, is still the Bengals' to lose.  

6. Buffalo Bills

The Bills beat the Jets last Thursday, which gives them a leg up in the battle for the final wild card spot. A loss to New England isn't something that should drop them. This spot likely won't be decided until the final week, as several teams are still in the mix. The Jets, Raiders, Chiefs and even the Texans are all within striking distance. The Bills' game next week against the Chiefs will have a major impact on the playoff race. 


1. Carolina Panthers

The 10-0 Panthers are the clear NFC South favorite. Cam Newton is doing a ton for this team, as is the defense. Ending with 13 (or more) wins is a serious possibility for Carolina, because their schedule isn't too challenging.  

2. Arizona Cardinals 

The Cardinals picked up where they left off last season before Carson Palmer was injured. Arizona hasn't been perfect this year, but they are 8-2 with a three-game lead in the NFC West. Their win over Cincinnati was impressive. 

3. Green Bay Packers

The Packers have lost three straight, but they shouldn't panic. They still have Aaron Rodgers at QB and they'll be just fine. However, the Vikings are a serious threat to win the NFC North. Green Bay beating the Vikings gives the Packers the advantage in the North. 

4. New York Giants

This No. 4 seed is wide open. The NFC East is going down to the wire again, and I've got the Giants as slight favorites. They get the nod for now, but don't be surprised if this changes a few times down the stretch. The Redskins and Eagles are just one game behind and don't count out the Cowboys now that Tony Romo is back. 

5. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are 7-3 and it's safe to call them legitimate contenders. At the very worst, they should lock up a wild card berth. The No. 5 seed could finish with a better record than the No. 4 seed. 

6. Atlanta Falcons 

The Falcons have now lost four of their last five. All four were games Atlanta should have won. However, the Falcons are still 6-4 and their easy schedule still sets up well for a playoff berth. I thought about moving them out, but I just couldn't justify putting the Seahawks or a different NFC South team ahead of the Falcons. 

Disagree with what I have and want to call me an idiot? Or agree with me and want to publicly sing my praises? Hit me up on Twitter.

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