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Article:Week 12 AFL Playoff Picture: National Conference

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The National Conference: Includes the 4 team Southern Division and 5 team Eastern Division: 6 of the 9 teams make the playoffs.

Southern Divison: The half of the division has had it's bye week already. There are 5 games left between division opponents. The bulk of their games are versus the American Conference, and they're already 11-5 against it.

1) New Orleans: 7-4, 2-2 in the division. Presently the 3rd seed. Their 5 remaining opponents are a collective 23-28. Key Game: At Orlando in Week 16. New Orleans is horrid on the road. 2-4 now and under .400 as a franchise. Their two road games are against teams with winning records.

2) Orlando: 7-4, 2-2 in the division. Presently the 4th seed. Their 5 remaining opponents are a collective 24-17. Key Game: The 44th round of the War on I-4, in Tampa this time. Orlando has their bye during the last week of the season, so they'll have at least 1 week's rest before playing their first playoff game.

3) Georgia: 5-5, 1-3 in the division. Presently 7th, the first team out of a playoff spot. Their 6 remaining opponents are a collective 27-25. Key Game: Week 14 hosting Tampa. Georgia has had an up-and down season: three of their losses have been by a combined 11 points and three of their wins have been 20+ point blowouts. They're going to have to get on a winning streak, starting at the 5th seeded Dragons this weekend.

4) Tampa Bay: 4-6, 3-1 in the division. Presently 8th, the 2nd team out of a playoff spot. Their 6 remaining opponents are a collective 28-25. Key Game: All of them. 9 and 7 probably won't make the playoffs in the National Conference, Tampa is going to have to win out to have a viable chance. They've done it before, as recently as last year, and it's a hard row to hoe for them again.

Eastern Division: Philly has yet to take it's bye, and all 5 teams have at least 3 division games left on their schedule. They're 20-6 in games played against non-divisional opponents, and with the exception of last year's AB runner-up (Columbus) they're all at least 2 games over .500.

1) Dallas: 9-1, 4-1 in the division. Presently the 1 seed, a half game ahead of Philadelphia. Their 6 remaining opponents are a collective 36-16, by far the most brutal remaining schedule. Key game: hosting Philly in Week 15. Dallas is a gaudy 37-5 in their last 42 regular season games, so positioning themselves for a good playoff slot isn't a problem. Their 2-4 all time playoff record is the problem. And will remain the 800lb gorilla on their backs until they hoist the Arena Bowl trophy.

2) Philadelphia: 9-2, 3-1 in the division. Presently the 2 seed. Their 5 remaining opponents are a collective 23-17. Key Game: That Week 15 road trip to Dallas. They spanked Dallas silly, 57-28, in Week 9, but to get a leg back up on D, they're going to have to do it again. They have to be a bit concerned, having dropped two straight road games after opening the season at 9-0.

3) New York: 6-4, 2-3 in the division. Presently the 5th seed. Their 6 remaining opponents are a collective 31-21. Key game: Hosting New Orleans in Week 15. After gakking the opening of the season at 1-4, the Dragons made changes on the O-line and have reeled off 5 straight wins and vaulted from 9th to 5th in the conference during that run.

4) Cleveland: 6-4, 3-2 in the division. Presently the 6th seed, 1 game in front of Georgia. Their 6 remaining opponents are a collective 32-19, and in three consecutive weeks they host 9-1 Dallas, 8-2 Chicago, then go to 9-2 Phildelphia. Absolutely brutal. Key game: that Week 16 road trip to Philly. They'll probably hang onto their 6th seed if they win 1 of those 3, but they're going to have to take care of the easier opponents, too.

5) Columbus: 2-8, 0-5 in the division. Presently the last place team, and while they're not mathematically eliminated from the post season yet, the number of things that would have to fall their way is preposterous. Key Game: win out, and hope for lots of help. From making last year's title game, to basement dwellers is the matter of inches. Last year they were 4-2 in games decided by 3 points or less, this year they're 2-4. That's why they're 2-8 and not positioning for a repeat of last years playoff run.


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