NFL Playoff Picture 2012: How Week 8 Will Shake Up Postseason Outlook
With parity running rampant throughout the entire league, the 2012 NFL playoff picture is nothing short of a jumbled mess as we head into Week 8.
Usually, the midpoint of the season is where the great teams rise above the rest, while lowly squads start thinking up creative phrases for next April's draft. However, with so few top-notch teams and so many mediocre ones, this mess may continue all the way down to the final weeks of the season.
Nonetheless, there are some significant games on this week's slate that should provide some clarity in the standings.
With that in mind, here is a look at the current playoff picture, along with predictions about how Week 8 will shake everything up.
Current Playoff Teams
|1||Houston Texans (6-1)||Atlanta Falcons (6-0)|
|2||Baltimore Ravens (5-2)||Chicago Bears (5-1)|
|3||New England Patriots (4-3)||New York Giants (5-2)|
|4||Denver Broncos (3-3)||San Francisco 49ers (5-2)|
|5||San Diego Chargers (3-3)||Minnesota Vikings (5-2)|
|6||Miami Dolphins (3-3)||Green Bay Packers (4-3)|
Also In the Hunt
|7||Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)||Arizona Cardinals (4-3)|
|8||Indianapolis Colts (3-3)||Seattle Seahawks (4-3)|
|9||New York Jets (3-4)||Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)|
|10||Tennessee Titans (3-4)||Dallas Cowboys (3-3)|
(Note: All playoff picture information is via NFL.com)
Team That Will Drop Out of Playoffs in Week 8: Miami Dolphins
Possibly the most vital contest on the AFC's playoff docket on Sunday will take place when the Dolphins travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Jets.
Both teams are still in contention in the AFC East, and Miami's bye week put them right into a surprising sixth seed coming into Week 8.
Unfortunately for Joe Philbin's squad, don't look for them to stick around, as the Jets should be able to win at home.
Despite a myriad of problems, Rex Ryan's squad has vastly improved over the last three weeks.
Facing off against elite teams, the Jets lost in one-possession contests against the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, while eviscerating an underrated Indianapolis Colts team in Week 6.
The team was particularly strong last Sunday against New England. Quarterback Mark Sanchez looked poised for almost the entire contest, completing 28-of-41 passes for 328 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
If that performance was somehow indicative of an uptick in Sanchez's play, it should be on display Sunday against a Dolphins defense that ranks 28th in the NFL against the pass.
Trusting the Jets to stay consistent is always a tricky proposition, but I'm picking them to win quite handily at home, which would knock Miami out of the sixth seed.
Team That Will Rise in Week 8: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Dolphins' loss would put one team in a strong benefactor position, and the Steelers should be that team.
After being one of the more frustrating squads in the early part of the season, Pittsburgh seemed to be putting the pieces back together against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Jonathan Dwyer sparked life into the running game, and the secondary did not miss a beat without Troy Polamalu against the Bengals' top-notch passing attack.
That said, winning won't be an easy task this week, as the Washington Redskins come into town. Led by scintillating quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins put a massive scare into the New York Giants in Week 7, and are fully capable of doing the same against Pittsburgh.
Obviously, Griffin has proven himself capable of scoring on even the best defenses in the NFL, and he should do the same this week.
Nonetheless, Washington has proven itself equally incapable of stopping opposing offenses, which should mean a huge day for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' passing game.
It may be a shootout, but I'm taking Pittsburgh to get a critical home win and climb into the AFC playoff picture.
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