Predicting who will make the 2012-13 NFL playoffs is supposed to become easier as the season progresses.
Here’s who will lock up each of the wild-card seeds.
AFC – 5th Seed: Indianapolis Colts
Right now, Indy is 9-5. It would have to lose out to miss the postseason. With the Kansas City Chiefs on the schedule next week, that isn’t happening.
The Colts will most likely lose to the Houston Texans again in Week 17 (unless Houston chooses to rest its starters, of course), but the Cincinnati Bengals are unlikely to win out and steal the fifth seed with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers as their final two opponents.
AFC – 6th Seed: Pittsburgh Steelers
Yes, Pittsburgh has just lost two straight games and three out of its last four. Nevertheless, if the Steelers win out, they’re still in.
Cincinnati and the Cleveland Browns are the two teams standing between them and the playoffs. Pittsburgh already beat the Bengals earlier this season and the Browns needed eight turnovers to knock off a Charlie Batch-led Steelers squad.
Unlike the Bengals, Pittsburgh knows how to win in December.
NFC – 5th Seed: Seattle Seahawks
If the Seahawks weren’t stopping scrubs, their last two efforts would have earned them the title of the NFL’s hottest team. Even if it was just against the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills, Seattle still outscored its last two opponents by a grand total of 91 points. It would be absolutely shocking if Pete Carroll and company somehow missed the playoffs.
NFC – 6th Seed: New York Giants
Yes, New York was just embarrassed 34-0 by the Atlanta Falcons. Not only should you expect the Washington Redskins to beat the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys to clinch the NFC East, though, but the Giants should be favored to make the postseason as well.
Last season, New York was upset by the lowly Rex Grossman-led Skins by the score of 23-10. It still fought its way into the playoffs and won the Super Bowl.
Against the slumping Eagles and Baltimore Ravens, the Giants will be fine.
AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
|No. 1 Seed Houston Texans (12-2) Clinched AFC South|
|No. 2 Seed Denver Broncos (11-3) Clinched AFC West|
|No. 3 Seed New England Patriots (10-4) Clinched AFC East|
|No. 4 Seed Baltimore Ravens (9-5) Lead AFC South; Clinched Playoff Berth|
|WILD CARD LEADERS|
|No. 5 Seed Indianapolis Colts (9-5)|
|No. 6 Seed Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)|
NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
|No. 1 Seed Atlanta Falcons (12-2) Clinched NFC South|
|No. 2 Seed San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) Lead NFC West; Clinched Playoff Berth|
|No. 3 Seed Green Bay Packers (9-4) Clinched NFC North|
|No. 4 Seed Washington Redskins (8-6) Lead NFC East|
|WILD CARD LEADERS|
|No. 5 Seed Seattle Seahawks (9-5)|
|No. 6 Seed Minnesota Vikings (8-6)|
|IN THE HUNT|
|Chicago Bears (8-6)|
|Dallas Cowboys (8-6)|
|New York Giants (8-6)|
|St. Louis Rams (6-7-1)|
| New Orleans Saints (6-8)|
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.