Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

NFL Midseason Report: A Look Ahead

I thought I'd take a second to go through the games I'm most looking forward to as the season winds down... while I'm no John Clayton (far sexier man than myself), we're starting to enter the games that truly matter.

Week 10
San Diego at Cincinnati - If the Bengals lose, put a fork into them.
Washington at Philadelphia - The loser of this game is done.
Chicago at NY Giants - Ummm... need any explanation?

Week 11
Chicago at NY Jets - I'm making the pick now... Jets win this one.
Atlanta at Baltimore - Two totally overrated teams need this game for playoff positioning.
St Louis at Carolina - If the unthinkable happens and we lose, do we become Carolina fans here or simply enjoy the continued falloff of everyone's preseason Super Bowl pick?
Indianapolis at Dallas - Making the pick again. Indy will be 8-1.
San Diego at Denver - Front runner in the AFC West.
NY Giants at Jacksonville - What an end to an incredible week. If the Giants lose this past Sunday, this game takes on gigantic proportions.

Week 12
Denver at Kansas City - How would you like to be a Denver fan and go from San Diego to Kansas City to Seattle (with healthy offensive players) in three weeks? That's how a 6-2 record can quickly end up 6-5.
New Orleans at Atlanta - The NFC South will get messy after this game and the Saints' loss.
Chicago at New England - The Bears will be the next team to beat New England at Foxboro and avoid a four game losing streak.

Week 13
Baltimore at Cincinnati - If my prediction is right about the Bengals (and Lord knows that hasn't been the case up to now), this game will put Cincy back into the top of the AFC North.
Arizona at St Louis - The Rams will blow this one.
Dallas at NY Giants - The top two teams in the NFC East face off for the crown.
Carolina at Philadelphia - If Carolina loses, they will be out of the postseason.

Week 14
New Orleans at Dallas - The fall of the Saints will continue as pundits scramble to claim that they predicted that the Saints really weren't that good.
Baltimore at Kansas City - The Chiefs cement their status as a legit playoff contender as Arrowhead strikes again.
New England at Miami - Remember how Tom Brady always sucks in this game?
Indianapolis at Jacksonville - Only putting this there because people think it'll be good and meaningful... but they'd be wrong.
NY Giants at Carolina - Notice how the Giants and Panthers are on this list a lot?
Denver at San Diego - Final game for AFC West domination (unless Chiefs steal it)

Week 15
Kansas City at San Diego - Must win on the road for the Chiefs as they seek not to be Team #7 for the second year in a row.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis - Only other good game in an otherwise forgettable week.

Week 16
Honestly, outside of our game against San Diego, not seeing many games I'm looking forward to.

Week 17
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - I think it may come down to this game for the Bengals to take the AFC North.
Green Bay at Chicago - I also think this will be a big game for playoff seeding.
Jacksonville at Kansas City - See below
Carolina at New Orleans - See below

How does the playoff picture itself stand right now?

1. Indianapolis: 8-0
2. Denver: 6-2 (over Baltimore because of better conference record)
3. Baltimore: 6-2 (over New England because of better conference record)
4. New England: 6-2
5. San Diego: 6-2
6. Jacksonville: 5-3 (over Kansas City because of better conference record)

First Round: Jacksonville at Baltimore; San Diego at New England

Teams Still In It: Obviously many from a mathematical perspective, but we'll stick with the following: Cincinnati and Kansas City.

Check out that game the last week of the season as Jacksonville goes to Kansas City. Looms large right now, doesn't it?

Taking a look at the schedules (we'll post these as they shorten), here's what I see...

Indy has a fairly easy road, and should easily clinch the #1 seed in the conference, especially with the killer schedules that the remainder of the contenders have.
Denver only has three "gimmes" left on the schedule, including this stretch of games: vs San Diego, at Kansas City, vs Seattle, at San Diego. It's difficult to see them holding on to the #2 seed during that stretch, leaving the door open for New England, who should easily cruise to another 6-2 run and grab that #2 ranking.
Baltimore's road depends on offensive consistency and whether the Pittsburgh Steelers give up, they play the defending champs twice.
If not, Cincinnati could jump in, but I now have to already go back on my prediction of above. The Bengals have a killer second half schedule, including games against San Diego, New Orleans, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Denver, and Pittsburgh. That's six of their eight games that could easily be losses. I don't see them getting through that well.
That leaves us with the two other AFC West teams, San Diego and Kansas City. Of the two, Kansas City has the far easier road, with two games still against Oakland, as well as "showdowns" with Cleveland and Miami. They do have tilts with San Diego and Denver, but not two, and neither Jacksonville or Baltimore are "elite" teams. When you compare that with San Diego's two games with Denver, at Seattle, at Cincinnati, and against Kansas City, the Chiefs hold an obvious edge.

So here's the prediction right now...

1. Indianapolis
2. New England
3. Baltimore
4. Kansas City
5. Jacksonville
6. San Diego

1. Chicago: 7-1
2. NY Giants: 6-2 (over New Orleans through better divisional record)
3. New Orleans: 6-2
4. Seattle: 5-3
5. Atlanta: 5-3
6. Minnesota: 4-4

The sixth spot is complex right now. First, Philadelphia and Dallas are tied in the NFC East with 4-4 records. Only one of those teams is wild-card eligible, according to tiebreaker policy. Because Philadelphia beat Dallas, they go on to a tiebreaker with Minnesota, Carolina, and St Louis. Minnesota has the best conference record (4-2) versus Philadelphia (3-3), Carolina (2-3), and St Louis (3-2), so they get the nod. So right now at the midway point the Carolina Panthers are out of the playoffs. Wierd.

With the absurd number of 4-4 teams still "alive", I'm not going to go through strength of schedule for all of them, except Carolina, Philly, Dallas, and Minnesota.

Chicago - Starting a tough run of four games, but end up with four snoozers. I don't see them losing the top spot unless Seattle really makes a run.
NY Giants - Yikes. As with any NFC East and NFC South team, the strength of schedule is going to make for some killer losing streaks, and with the injuries on defense, it's difficult to see the Giants maintaining their current momentum, although I do think they're going to win this Sunday. They end the season vs Dallas, at Carolina, vs Philadelphia, vs New Orleans, at Washington. The good news for them? The worst games are at home.
Seattle - After we get Shaun and Matt back after this St Louis game, the only games to be concerned with are at Denver, vs San Diego. Niiiice. Look for us to get that #2 slot.
New Orleans - Ummm... I have bad news for Saints fans. Your team is not making the playoffs, barring a total collapse in Atlanta and Carolina. Besides a game against San Francisco, you have at Pittsburgh, vs Cincinnati, at Atlanta, at Dallas, vs Washington, at NY Giants, vs Carolina. The only consolation is that your division opponents will have the same problems, but don't expect to hold the #3 ranking.
Atlanta - I hate to do this, and maybe I'll change my mind when I see Carolina's schedule, but I think Atlanta has to be the favorite in the AFC South. The schedule is just in their favor. The current run of vs Cleveland, at Baltimore, vs New Orleans, at Washington and at Tampa Bay gives them a huge lift.
Minnesota - The good news? An incredibly favorable schedule. The bad news? Playing like how they did against New England and San Francisco. They'll definitely be in it until the end.
Philadelphia - No way. No way. They end at Indianapolis, vs Carolina, at Washington, at NY Giants, at Dallas, vs Atlanta. No way.
Dallas - For an NFC East team, actually a lot of winnable games. I think they have the leg up, not to mention the better team.
Carolina - It's going to come down to the last two weeks, at Atlanta and at New Orleans. They will be in the playoff hunt if they sweep, eliminated if they don't.

Here's how it looks then, campers...

1. Chicago
2. Seattle
3. Atlanta
4. NY Giants
5. Dallas
6. Carolina

Again, my apologies to Saints fans. That schedule, however...
For any Vikings fans, it would reasonable to be upset with me, but quit losing to the 49ers.

posted by Gavin @ 2:23 PM  2 comments


At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weird is spelled w-e-i-r-d, not w-i-e-r-d. Not that this will help Nathan any ...


At 4:51 PM, Blogger Gavin said...

I ALWAYS misspell that word. It's a curse. Like last year when I couldn't spell Cincinnati right.


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