NFL Playoff Picture: An Updated Look at Every Seed After Week 11
The playoff picture is beginning to take form, with division leaders taking control of their division and leaving the rest of the league to fight for the remaining wild-card spots.
If the playoffs started this week, how would the current postseason picture look?
Here is the analysis on every current team that has a seed in the playoffs.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
However, Roethlisberger will eventually return in the month of December, which is great news for this veteran competitor. He is having arguably his best season during his first year under offensive coordinator Todd Haley and continues to flourish with his young receivers.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's defense played good enough to win on Sunday night, as it continues to keep the Steelers in a great position to win each week.
In a conference that is wide open, the Steelers could potentially emerge as the best team if they are healthy come playoff time.
5. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck was exposed as a typical rookie quarterback, but his command of the offense has been a promising sight for the most surprising team in the league.
Can the Colts manage to rebound following this loss, or will this inexperienced team begin to fade from the playoff picture?
4. Denver Broncos
The Broncos have arguably been the most impressive team over the past month, winning five straight games and firing on all cylinders.
Peyton Manning has quickly built great chemistry with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, as the team has solidified its lead over the rest of the AFC West.
In terms of competing for a championship, will the Broncos prove they can beat one of the quality teams that they trail in the standings?
They have lost to both the Texans and Patriots, but their road matchup against the Ravens late in the year could be the difference in securing a first-round bye.
3. New England Patriots
The Patriots imposed their will on the Colts while on their way to a 59-24 blowout. Aquib Talib made his presence felt within the secondary with his interception, which was the first of many turnovers that New England's defense caused.
There was some unfortunate news with the injury to Rob Gronkowski, who is expected to miss the majority of the remaining regular-season games with a broken forearm. Aaron Hernandez could return this week just in time to replace Gronkowski, but the Patriots will face a difficult path to securing a bye week.
They will have an opportunity to face two elite teams in the Texans and 49ers during their final six-game stretch and prove their dominant offense can come to life against two dominant defenses.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Despite the variety of injuries and inconsistencies on both sides of the football, the Ravens currently hold an 8-2 record and are in a position to secure a first-round bye in this year's postseason.
Baltimore faced its typical slugfest with Pittsburgh, and it was the defense that played its best game in recent weeks during the Ravens' 13-10 victory.
Joe Flacco was never able to get into much of a rhythm against the league's best defense, but the offense has led this team for the majority of the season thus far.
Can both units play consistent football late in the season? A tough stretch awaits in December, with the most notable matchups being games against the Steelers, Broncos and Giants.
1. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans needed overtime to survive a career performance from Chad Henne, but Matt Schaub managed to have his best game as a starter in their 43-37 overtime victory.
With a 9-1 record, the Texans control their own destiny to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. While veterans have always led their offense, the defense has grown tremendously due to players such as J.J. Watt and Jonathan Joseph making an impact each week.
They have previously dominated the Broncos and Ravens, but will face a tough test on the road against the Patriots in Week 14.
6. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks currently hold the final playoff spot in the NFC after winning the tiebreaker over both the Buccaneers and Vikings.
Russell Wilson became the most unlikely rookie quarterback to start this year, but his victories over the Packers (despite the controversy) and the Patriots are a testament to how the team has rallied around him as their leader.
The biggest challenge remaining for the Seahawks is whether they can defeat a team that displays the threat of an elite offense and defense?
They came up short in a difficult road game against the 49ers, and a win against the NFC West leader could make a difference if they make the postseason.
5. Green Bay Packers
After their slow start to the season, the Packers have won five straight games and are very much in play for the NFC North championship.
Aaron Rodgers continues his excellent play at the quarterback position despite the injuries to two of his most notable receivers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.
Randall Cobb has taken advantage of the opportunity to fill the void in recent weeks and adds another dynamic to the Packers' lethal offense.
The question remains whether the defense can continue its trend in recent weeks and propel Green Bay back to the title game.
4. New York Giants
Eli Manning has struggled mightily as of late, along with the rest of his talented receivers. New York's pass rush hasn't been as dominant compared to recent years, which has led opposing quarterbacks to target their weak secondary each week.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get much easier from here. They continue with a tough second-half schedule next week against the Packers, followed by games against the Saints, Falcons and Ravens.
With a one-game lead in the division, the defending Super Bowl champions are in need of some late second-half magic once again.
3. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers haven't displayed consistency over the course of this season, but they face an opportunity to take control of the second seed in the NFC with a win against the Bears on Monday Night Football.
Can Alex Smith become the ultimate difference maker in this team's success? If he can revert to last season's efficient play, the offense is built to score more than in recent years due to the abundance of talented receivers.
San Francisco's defense is still elite, as Patrick Willis continues to lead one of the league's best units. It will only be a matter of time before we see if the 49ers can improve on last year's finish, where they came up just short of another Super Bowl appearance.
2. Chicago Bears
The Bears have improved drastically this season due to the superior play of their veteran defense. Led by Charles Tillman and Julius Peppers, Chicago's defense has generated plenty of points by forcing turnovers on a weekly basis.
Offensively, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall have redeveloped their great chemistry, going back to the days in Denver. However, the Bears lost a tough game last week against Houston after Cutler suffered a concussion.
Can the Bears keep pace with the Falcons for home-field advantage with Jason Campbell at the helm this week?
1. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have held the league's best record all season long, but they won't receive credit for their success until they make an impact in the playoffs.
Matt Ryan suffered a horrendous game against the Cardinals, in which he threw five interceptions. Aside from that brutal performance, Ryan has played the quarterback position at a high level and utilized Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to his advantage.
Atlanta's defense has made strides under Mike Nolan and continues to improve as the season goes along.
While their 9-1 start is impressive, this season will be an afterthought if no progress is made in the postseason.