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We are coming up on week 12 in the 2008 NFL season and only two of the four National Football Conference divisions have clear leaders. Unlike last year, the NFC appears to have some legitimate teams. Though not all is good in the NFC. In fact, they have the only winless team left, the Detroit Lions (0-10), who are dead last in the NFC North division. Will the NFC have a Super Bowl winner again this year? Read on to find out:
Chicago Bears 5-5
Detroit Lions 0-10
This division seems to be on par with the very weak AFC West. The top three teams all being tied for first, and really, any one of the three could easily win the division in the end. If Chicago's QB Kyle Orton can stay healthy they have the potential to win it. But, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has shown a lot of promise, especially in Green Bay's 37-3 blowout victory on Sunday over the Bears.
Green Bay's only real test remaining on their schedule is their week 13 matchup with the 8-2 Carolina Panthers. Minnesota's remaining schedule looks to be a lot tougher, and I just don't think the Bears have the firepower to beat out the Pack for this division. Sunday's game, again, told me everything.
As for Detroit. Oh, man have they got a lot of things to work on. First of all, having Daunte Culpepper as their QB isn't going to do much good. Plus, when you add in the defensive weaknesses and lack of coaching, you've got a whole lot of trouble in Detroit...Like usual. Detroit still has Tampa, Tennessee, Indy, New Orleans and the Pack to play. There's a chance the Lions could be the first team to go 0-16 in NFL history.
Division winner: Packers
New York Giants 9-1
Dallas Cowboys 6-4
Philadelphia Eagles 5-4-1
Eli Manning and his Giants look to be well on their way to another playoff appearance. This time, with a division title to their name. They very easily could be 10-0, like the Titans of the AFC South. Though their remaining schedule is pretty tough, the Giants will easily roll into the playoffs with the top seed.
Tony Romo saved the Cowboys season with the 14-10 victory over the 6-4 Washington Redskins on Sunday, and you can't rule them out of the playoffs just yet. If Dallas can win four of their last six games, they have a shot at a playoff spot. But, that obviously won't be an easy task. Yes, their next two games are winable (49ers, Seahawks), but their last four games are tough matchups with Pittsburgh, New York (Giants), Baltimore and Philly.
The Redskins, tied with Dallas, are still alive as well. The 7-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently lead the wild card race, but with RB Earnest Graham possibly out for the season and QB issues, this team is in no shape to win a playoff spot. Only two of the Skins six games still to be played are losable games. Jason Campbell has done a pretty nice job so far this season, I believe he can do it. Skins win sixth playoff spot in the NFC.
So, despite the slow start for Dallas, the NFC East will still have three playoff teams. I have lost all confidence in Donovan McNabb and ANdy Reid's Eagles after their tie with the 1-8-1 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Division winner: Giants
Atlanta Falcons 6-4
I can seriously say that I called this one. I knew the Panthers would have a great season, and Jake Delhomme would have a bounce-back season after his successful Tommy John Surgery. And, it was all possible because of their success in the running game. Rookie Jonathan Stewart, out of Oregon, and DeAngelo Williams have run opposing defenses to death. Carolina's schedule seems to favor them, as well.
Not only has Carolina surprised many (other than me, of course), but rookie QB Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons has too. Who woulda thought that Ryan would carry this team to a 6-4 record through 11 weeks. If Atlanta's defense had performed better on Sunday, they could be 7-3 and tied for second with Tampa. But, I expect Atlanta to quickly pass Tampa in the standings, due to a few key injuries suffered by Tampa.
Many thought Drew Brees and the Saints would be having a much better season, too. But instead, Delhomme leads his Panthers to the top of the division, and is poised to take them to the playoffs this season. It's just too bad the Falcons won't have a good enough record to win the wild card. Wouldn't that be something?
Division winner: Panthers
Seattle Seahawks 2-8
St. Louis Rams 2-8
This one isn't even close! Kurt Warner has done a very good job leading the Cardinals to a 7-3 record. Although it does help a lot when you've got guys like Anquan Boldin (leads NFL in TD receptions) and Larry Fitzgerald (second in NFL in receiving yards with 939) catching balls for you. Not many expected the Cards to be winning this division through 11 weeks, but the injury to QB Matt Hasselbeck and poor defensive play by the favorites, the Seattle Seahawks, opened the door for the possible league MVP (through the first 11 weeks, anyway) Kurt Warner.
There really isn't much else to say about this division. It's quite obvious the Cardinals are easily going to win the division, and there isn't going to be a wild card team come from this division. This, like the AFC West, is an embarrassment. The other three teams are a combined 7-23. That's all I'm going to say...
Division winner: Cardinals
Also check out: AFC Playoff Picture (Week 12 Edition)
Please and thank you!