jesse
@ December 5, 2012


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week 13.JPG

First, the teams that are completely done. Zero shot. Mark it down.

PHI, WAS, DAL, CAR, NO, DET, MIN, STL, AZ, MIA, NYJ, BUF, TEN, JAX, CLE, SD, KC, OAK.

That's 18 of the leagues' 32 teams. Some of them haven't officially been eliminated from contention yet (DAL, NO, and WAS are still alive for the NFC wild card, and DAL and WAS could still win the NFC East), but they have been eliminated by sucking. Let's look at the rest of the teams, in increasing likelihood of claiming a title this year.

TIER 4: Technically alive, but on life support

IND, PIT, CIN, TB, SEA, BAL

Atlanta is getting all the press for being a fraudulent 1-loss team, but NOBODY in the league is a bigger phony than the Baltimore Ravens. "Finding a way to win" is a euphemism for "lucky as shit." Remember that.

TIER 3: The Lurkers

NYG, GB

NYG has spent some time in the upper tier this year, but when they lay eggs like they did against WAS this past weekend it is hard to take them seriously. Of course, they did beat Green Bay two weeks ago. The Pack and the Bears have a roughly equal shot at the division title, but Chicago is actually better, so I give them much more chance of actually advancing and winning the Super Bowl.

TIER 2: The Contenders

ATL, CHI, SF, HOU, DEN

4 of 5 have a hammerlock on their respective divisions, with only the NFC North still in question. However, all 5 have some question marks. Atlanta has wins of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 4 points this year. The wins count, but they also point out that their record may outstrip their true talent level. Chicago is 8-4, but 7 of them have come against teams that are already out of the Super Bowl hunt. They are 1-4 against contenders. 3 of those losses have come by at least a touchdown (not counting the overtime Seattle game this past weekend). San Fransisco has somehow embroiled itself in a quarterback controversy with 5 weeks left to go*. Houston and Denver have looked the most impressive, but neither has looked as good as the top team.

(*quick sidebar: if Alex Smith loses his starting job to a concussion injury, the only logical conclusion is for players in the future, specifically San Francisco players, to try and conceal future head injuries for fear of losing their jobs as well. Not only is this bad for player health, but it may turn out to be bad for the team in the long run as well. I do not like the decision by John Harbaugh.)

TIER 1: The Favorite

NE

After some early season stumbles that saw their odds drop, a 6-game winning streak since starting 3-3 has put them back at the top of the league (they were also my preseason favorite to take the title). They are sure to win their division. The only mark against them at this point is that they will have to fight to get a first-round bye.


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