final weeks of the year.
The final seeding for the NFC should be as follows: #1-Chicago (currently 9-1, should finish season 13-3), #2-NY Giants (6-4, 10-6), #3-Carolina (6-4, 10-6), and #4-Seattle (6-4, 9-7). As for the two remaining wild-card spots, they will be two of the following five teams: Dallas, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta and San Francisco.
The #5 seed is all but destined to fall to Dallas (6-4 and gaining momentum), and the #6 seed will not fall to San Francisco (5-5) due to erratic hot and cold performances, nor will it fall to Atlanta for the very same reason (losers of three straight and their next opponent on November 26, New Orleans, can sweep the season series and own any tie-breaker if they were to tie for the #6 seed). And Philadelphia just cannot get it done without their star QB McNabb.
The #6 seed will fall to New Orleans, the team that was so adversely effected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina just one year ago. With a win over Atlanta next week, they will pretty much have the #6 seed given to them, making it theirs to lose. The #5 seed Dallas should close out the season at 10-6, currently 6-4, and the #6 seed New Orleans should finish at 9-7, currently at 6-4.
The three teams left out in the cold should finish out the year as follows: Philadelphia (5-5, 7-9…if they are lucky; without McNabb, a 5-11 finish would not be out of the picture), Atlanta (5-5, 8-8), and San Francisco (5-5, 6-10).
As for the AFC seeding, the #1 goes to (gee what a shock!) Indianapolis (9-1, 13-3), #2-San Diego (8-2, 12-4), #3-New England (7-3, 10-6), and #4-Baltimore (8-2, 10-6).
And the remaining #6 slots will be fought over by seven teams (all with records between 6-4 and 4-6 after Week 11). Just like in the NFC, the #5 seed is virtually wrapped up. Denver has a 7-3 mark and should finish with an 11-5 record. The #6 seed is entirely up for grabs.
The frontrunners are Kansas City and Jacksonville at 6-4, followed by the NY Jets and Cincinnati at 5-5, and still hanging on to a slither of hope, the 4-6 teams of Miami, Buffalo, and defending champs Pittsburgh. Kansas City, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati have brutal remaining schedules, Miami, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh have near brutal schedules, but the NY Jets appear to have the least intimidating one of all.
With Kansas City QB Trent Green back from the injured reserve, I would have to take them as the #6 seed. Any long time reader of my column knows I am a die-hard Steelers fan and in my heart, I would love for them to beat Baltimore both times, return the favor to Cincinnati, wallop Cleveland on the Thursday night game in December, and whip up on Tampa Bay and Carolina from the NFC South. Be tied with Kansas City for the best record for the #6 seed (after Jacksonville and the NY Jets slip to a 9-7 record), and win the #6 seed due to head to head match-ups. Yeah…pretty much a one in a million shot huh! They won their last eight games last year. They can do it again. Of course last year the streak ended with a Super Bowl win, this year, the eight game winning streak could just merit them a #6 seed in the playoffs, if they were lucky.
For the match-ups in the NFC Wild Card week: #6 New Orleans at #3 Carolina, and #5 Dallas at #4 Seattle. The two lower seeds would advance. The divisional playoffs would pit the #6 New Orleans at #1 Chicago and #5 Dallas at #4 NY Giants. The NFC Championship Game will have the NY Giants visiting Chicago.
For the AFC match-ups, the wild card round would be #6 Kansas City at #3 New England and #5 Denver at #4 Baltimore. With victories by both lower seeds, the divisional round would have #6 Kansas City at #1 Indianapolis and #5 Denver at #2 San Diego. Look for an AFC Championship Game between Denver and Indianapolis. Anyone for a Peyton vs. Eli Super Bowl match-up? Just might be!
P.S. Yeah, I thought Detroit was a team to beat in the playoff hunt in '06, just not "the team everybody beat". Chalk this one up to my two-year thoughts on Arizona becoming a contender (2004-05).