Top AFC seeds : Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens Other AFC division champs : New England Patriots, Denver Broncos AFC Wild Cards : Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins Top NFC seeds : Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants Other NFC division champs : San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers NFC Wild Cards : Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles • Your eyes do not deceive you, and no one mixed LSD into your cereal this morning. That is indeed the Miami Dolphins in the Absurdly Premature Playoff Picture. I’ll do my best to explain. • It pretty much boils down to the AFC being an indistinguishable jumble of teams that will finish between 7-9 and 9-7. There are precisely two teams with winning records, and they occupy the top two spots ‒ the Ravens and Texans. After that, if you eliminate the Browns, Titans, Jaguars, Raiders and Chiefs on the ground of being two games under .600 already, you’re left with the Chargers, Steelers, Bengals, and the scrap heap that is the AFC East. It’s not an attractive list of options. I’ll take you through how I landed on Miami. • Of the eligible teams listed above, the Chargers have the best point differential on the season at +11 (only Pittsburgh at +1 and Miami at +3 are also on the positive side of the ledger). That works in their favor, as does the number of “should win” games left on their schedule: @Cleveland, KC, @Tampa Bay, Cincy, Carolina, @NYJ and Oakland. • But with a great big Stephen A. Smith However … the unspeakable evens of Monday night happened. That was real. It was not some devastating football night terror. The Chargers are about as emotionally healthy right now as Ellen Burstyn character in “Requiem for a Dream.” Losses like that are how people end up with the demeanor and mannerisms for Norv Turner. I don’t know if they can recover emotionally, and even if they do, I don’t know if Philip Rivers can right that thing. I’m going to need to see the Chargers come back after the bye week and do something against Cleveland other than ball themselves up in the fetal position and suck their thumbs. It’ll be two weeks before I will even consider considering them again.
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Absurdly premature 2012 playoff picture: Week 6 (Shutdown Corner)