NFL Playoff Picture 2012: Predicting Sure-Fire Division Winners

Phil GCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2012

NFL Playoff Picture 2012: Predicting Sure-Fire Division Winners

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    The conclusion of the 2012 regular season is almost upon us, which is both good and bad.

    It's bad because some of our teams will be at home watching the playoffs (clearly looking at the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders), while on the other hand, the great part about the conclusion of the regular season, is the start of the playoffs! 

    Twelve teams will be battling in the hopes of capturing the almighty Lombardi Trophy. 

    We have already have three teams who have clinched their respective divisions (Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos), but what about the remaining five? 

    Here are my division winners for the 2012 NFL season. 

AFC South

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    The Houston Texans are destined for a bye slot this season, however, because of the surprising Indianapolis Colts, led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, it will take them a little longer to capture what's rightfully theirs. 

    They face Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts twice before season's end, in addition to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this Sunday. A rough schedule for the Texans but it's nothing they can't handle. 

    If they win at least one of the two matchups with the Colts, in addition to a victory over the Vikings, the division will be locked up.  

    Houston will be the divisional winner. 

NFC West

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    Despite all the criticism of Jim Harbaugh's handling of the quarterback situation in San Fran, he has his ball club in prime position to win the NFC West. 

    Seattle is close on the 49ers trail, but the 49ers currently have the tiebreaker. If the 49ers can win two of their last four games, they should be fine.

    For good measure, the 49ers would also have to split between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks matchups. This is essential if the Niners plan on capturing one of the two bye slots. 

    Expect the Niners to have this division locked up by Week 16. 

NFC North

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    Aaron Rodgers and the Chicago Bears both lie at 8-4; however, both teams seem to be going in different directions. 

    The Packers have won six of their last seven games and have a rather easy schedule to close out the season (Lions, Bears, Titans, Vikings). 

    The Bears have lost three out of their last four games, and they currently lack a tiebreaker with the Packers if both teams end the season with the same records. 

    Plus, the Bears have some serious injury issues, including Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher. It's not all bad news for the Bears, however, since they'll still be in the running for one of the two Wild Card spots.

    Should be a great finish in this division, but I think the Packers will prevail.  

AFC North

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    This AFC North and NFC East are one of the toughest divisions to predict, but in this case, I'm going with the Ravens. 

    The Ravens are a little banged up, but if Ray Lewis could return, that should make a big difference for this team heading into the playoffs. 

    Pittsburgh has also been bitten by the injury bug, but when has this not happened? If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy enough, the Steelers will have a chance, but that's questionable at this moment. 

    They should, however, be in the running for a Wild Card spot.

    Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals are also looking to sneak into the race, but like Pittsburgh, they'll probably have to settle for one of the two Wild Card spots. 

NFC East

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    For some reason, the New York Giants will always find a way to make things even more interesting. A few weeks ago, the Giants looked every bit like the world champions we saw in 2011, but a lot has changed since then. 

    Bad losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins have put the Giants back with the rest of the pack. 

    The Giants have a brutal remaining schedule (Saints, Falcons, Ravens, Eagles), in addition to the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys on their trail. 

    We should see an exciting finish, but I expect the Giants to win the division with a 10-6 overall record. The Redskins will fall short at 9-7, while the Cowboys disappoint again with a 8-8 overall record.