Top AFC seeds : Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens Other AFC division champs : New England Patriots, Denver Broncos AFC wild cards : Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers Top NFC seeds : Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers Other NFC division champs : Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles NFC wild cards : New York Giants, Green Bay Packers • Once again, we’ll start in the NFC, because that’s where we’ve got action. A hearty welcome goes out to the blonde gentleman with the ferocious mustache in the upper-right hand corner. Welcome, Minnesota Vikings, to the Absurdly Premature Playoff Picture. • I’m buying the Vikings. They run the ball, they stop the run, and Christian Ponder is a poor man’s Alex Smith. That used to be the kind of unspeakable insult that would drive a Tibetan monk to challenge you to a pit fight, but these days, it’s okay. They both have a relatively low number of attempts, a high quarterback rating (Smith’s at 108.7 and Ponder is at 95.5), the touchdown count is high and the interceptions are low. That, a two-game division lead, and an upcoming schedule without any top-shelf opponents (their next five are Washington, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Seattle and Detroit), and I’m in. Color me purple. • Notable by their absence are the Chicago Bears, and maybe I’m crazy to be buying the Vikings and not them, but I just can’t get myself to trust the Bears fully. It’s not the defense, obviously ‒ they’re a war machine. Easily one of the top five defenses in the league. I’m troubled by the fact that the one time they’ve been on the field with a good team (Green Bay, who happens to be the team they’re going to have to hold off), they weren’t even competitive. Also, there’s Jay Cutler. Nothing goes smoothly for too long when Jay Cutler is involved. Green Bay hangs on to a Wild Card spot by a thread.
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