NFL Playoff Predictions: Teams Who Are Locks to Clinch Their Divisions

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIINovember 25, 2011

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 24:  Fans of the Baltimore Ravens cheer against the San Francisco 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the 49ers 16-6. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

Post-Thanksgiving we have a general idea of what the NFL playoff picture will look like, and these teams will win their divisions when it's all said and done.

Some divisions like the NFC West are just about clinched, while others like the AFC West are still wide-open.

Believe it or not, only three teams have been mathematically eliminated from clinching their respective divisions: the Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings. Every other team still has a chance of winning their division and guaranteeing themselves a playoff spot.

With that being said, these will be the winners of each division.

AFC East: New England Patriots

With the Buffalo Bills losing three straight, they have become a non-factor in the AFC East. The only competition for the Patriots is Rex Ryan's New York Jets.

The Patriots are two games up on the Jets and have an easy schedule left. In fact, the Patriots have a very good chance of winning out. Their toughest games left are against the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 20-41, and the Pats could very easily go 13-3 this season.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens improved to 8-3 by beating the San Francisco 49ers last night, and essentially clinched the AFC North.

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 21:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates his first touchdown with teammate  Tom Brady #12 at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Their only competition are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, and they have beaten both teams before. Their only difficult game remaining is against the Bengals, and while all three losses for the Ravens have come on the road, even losing that one road game would give them a 12-4 record and a division title.

AFC South: Houston Texans

The Texans are 7-3 and have a two-game lead in the division right now. They still have three tough games remaining, while the next best team, the Tennessee Titans, only have two.

This division may be decided during the final week when the Texans and Titans play each other, but the Texans will win.

Despite losing Matt Schaub the Texans still have the second-best rushing attack, the second-best pass defense and the fourth-best run defense.

With their final game being in Houston, the Texans will surely win the division.

AFC West: Denver Broncos

I will admit that I doubted Tim Tebow, but seeing how well the Broncos play when he isn't forced to throw the ball has changed my opinion of him.

The Broncos are currently second in the division at 5-5 after going 4-1 since Tebow became the starter. They only have two tough games against playoff-contenders remaining, both of which come at home.

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos scrambles against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Jets 17-13.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The division-leading Oakland Raiders have three tough games against the best teams in the talented NFC North, and they will lose all three games.

The Broncos will win this division by going 9-7, and that is very possible. In order to do so the Broncos just need to win the four games remaining against teams that are out of the playoff-picture.

The Broncos will invest full-faith in Tebow when he leads them to the playoffs.

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys

The NFC East will come down to the two games between the Cowboys and the New York Giants. The Cowboys will win at least one of these games, and that will clinch them the division.

The Cowboys are one of the best teams against the run, and the Giants are 31st in rushing yards per game. Dallas will be able to take the Giants' run game out o the equation, allowing them to focus on Eli Manning and their passing attack.

The Cowboys also defend well against the pass, and they should be able to control the damage of Manning.

These games will come down to the play of Tony Romo, and I see him paying well in at least one of these two games, clinching the division.

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks for an open receiver against the Miami Dolphins during the Thanksgiving Day game at Cowboys Stadium on November 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. the Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

NFC North: Green Bay Packers

After improving to 11-0 for the first time in franchise history yesterday, the Packers also essentially clinched their division. They have now beaten every team in their division on the road, and are set to win their division.

The Packers have a three game lead in the division, and have to go 2-3 in order to mathematically clinch. That's pretty easy for a team that could very well go 16-0.

NFC South: New Orleans Saints

The Atlanta Falcons and the Saints are the only teams vying for a division title in the NFC South, and the Saints essentially clinched the division when the Falcons decided to go for it on fourth down in overtime in the game between these two.

The Saints stopped them, won the game in Atlanta and gained the upper-hand in the division. As long as the Saints don't collapse and lose one of the games they should easily win the South.

NFC West: San Francisco 49ers

Despite losing to the Ravens last night, the 49ers still have a 4.5 game lead in the NFC West. All they have to do is win one or two more games and they have clinched a division title.

It really is as simple as that.


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