Well, the NFC is clearly garbage. All of the divisional leaders are deeply flawed, yet in all cases seem to have their divisions well in hand. As predicted here, the Bears were the first team to claim a division title. Unfortunately, it's the NFC North title. Does that come with napkins?
The AFC looks terribly competitive. Again, divisional leaders seem to have a strong edge on their challengers, with at least a game to give. That wildcard hunt between five teams with 7-5 records should provide for excellent games.
Rather than get deep into the statistical profiles of the potential wildcard teams, I'm going to simply turn to the opponents they will face for the last four games. You sportsjacks can live in the past, man, with your yards-per-carry and opponents' red zone TD %. This is predictions for the future, when I'll be even lazier than I am right now. Get a good handful of butter, abuelitas, because these are Wildcard Predictions.
NFC Playoff Picture: The 6-6 wildcarders
Free-falling Giants vs. Panthers, Eagles, Saints, Redskins. Opponents' records .500
Wobbly Eagles vs. Redskins, Giants, Cowboys, Falcons. Opponents' record: .500
Flawful Panthers vs. Giants, Steelers, Falcons, New Orleans. Opponents' record: .521
Inconsistent Falcons vs. Bucs, Cowboys, Panthers, Eagles. Opponents' record: .479
Well, I'm ready to hitch my ride to Vick's Falcons as the #5 seed. #6 -- Giants or Eagles -- will be 8-8 fodder. If Vick's receivers can manage to hang onto the ball (as they finally did, with lamentable timing, versus the Redskins) that running game could take them past the first round. They have no depth at DB.
AFC Playoff Picture: The 7-5 wildcarders
Overachieving Jets vs. Bills, Vikings, Dolphins, Raiders. Opponents' record: .354
Troubled Jaguars vs. Colts, Titans, Patriots, Chiefs. Opponents' record: .646
Rising Bengals vs. Raiders, Colts, Broncos, Steelers. Opponents' record: .500
Mercurial Chiefs vs. Ravens, Chargers, Raiders, Jaguars. Opponents' record: .583
Cutleresque Broncos vs. Chargers, Cardinals, Bengals, 49ers. Opponents' record: .521
The Cinderella Jets were picked to go 3-13 by Pro Football Weekly, for example. Mangini has produced an unlikely playoff team, but their patsy schedule and determined, scrappy defense with Pennington's determined, scrappy leadership should vouchsafe them to the promised land as the #5 pick.
The Bengals would be dangerous as the #6 seed, but their defense must continue to play as it did in the last 3 games (all wins) giving up 7.5 points per game, and not as it did in the previous 3 games (all losses) giving up 31 ppg.