2010 NFL Playoff Predictions: Philadelphia Slips With Loss To Washington

Jeremy MeeksCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2010

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 03: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass behind LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 3, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Baltimore won the game 17-14. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It's early in the season, but some playoff races are taking shape.  With 13 weeks left, these spots could easily change.  This early in the season, last year's success has a lot to do with this year's rankings.  This year's hot teams (Kansas City, St. Louis) have something to prove.  If they continue to play well, these teams should appear in the rankings in the next few weeks.

AFC North:  Baltimore (Baltimore)

The win at Pittsburgh was big and put some distance between them and the Steelers.  There shouldn't be a quarterback controversy for the Steelers after the bye week since Dennis Dixon was hurt for the year and Charlie Batch proved ineffective in his second start.  Baltimore won the division last year and it's theirs to lose.

AFC East:  NY Jets (NY Jets)

The Jets have looked strong since losing the opener to Baltimore.  The win this week over Buffalo makes a win over each divisional opponent.  New England has some work to do to overcome the Jets.

NFC South:  New Orleans (New Orleans)

New Orleans hasn't looked great in their Super Bowl defense.  The Falcons beat the Saints in New Orleans but the Saints could easily return the favor at the dome in Atlanta.  New Orleans should get healthy as the year progresses.  While their wins haven't been pretty, they haven't shown the championship lag just yet.

NFC North:  Green Bay (Green Bay)

The Packers won one they should have, but it wasn't easy.  Nonetheless, it was a win against a divisional opponent.  How Minnesota comes off the bye week might have a lot to say about the way this division plays out.  This is the tightest division right now.

AFC North:  Indianapolis (Indianapolis)

The Colts lost a game they should have won easily.  They're fighting injuries, but the defense looks pretty suspect right now.  Houston won solidly on the road this week and owns a win over the Colts already.  They are closing the gap.

NFC West:  Arizona (Arizona)

Arizona got worked by San Diego this week, but should still be considered the favorites in the west.  St. Louis has already passed the other two teams in this weak division.  It looks like the Cardinals have moved to Max Hall at quarterback.  How the team plays with this change, along with how the Rams improve will define this division.

AFC West:  San Diego (San Diego)

San Diego won definitively this week but have been up and down this season.  The Chargers have all the tools to win what was expected to be their division.  Kansas City owns a win over San Diego and is a team on the rise.  The Chiefs have a tough stretch against three teams from the AFC South.

NFC East:  Dallas (Philadelphia)

Dallas should improve coming off a bye week.  They haven't looked good except against a weak Houston secondary.  Philadelphia suffered a tough loss against Washington this week and without Michael Vick might struggle going forward.  The Redskins have to prove they are a playoff team after their rough season last year. 

NFC Wild Card:  Minnesota (Minnesota)

They've got a tough game after their bye against the Jets.  They could give the first wild card spot up to Atlanta next week.

NFC Wild Card:  Atlanta (Atlanta)

Atlanta had a tough win against a bad San Francisco team.  The Falcons look to compete for the NFC South throughout the season and at least have a hold on a wild card spot for now.  The second NFC East team is next in line for this spot should Atlanta falter down the stretch.

AFC Wild Card:  New England (Pittsburgh)

New England might be well behind the Jets right now for the division, but they are in position for the first wild card spot.  Pittsburgh's loss to Baltimore dropped them out of the first wild card position and past the second spot.  Houston is just behind the Patriots.  This is the most contested wild card spot at this point in the season.

AFC Wild Card:  Houston (New England)

Houston won a game they should have against Oakland to get back into the playoff hunt.  Kansas City is making a nice push and has a couple critical games against Indianapolis and Houston the next two weeks.  Houston needs a win next week to stay ahead of Pittsburgh.