petey

Breaking down the NFL playoff picture in early-November

It's November now, which means it's no longer insanely early to break down the NFL playoff picture. OK, it's still a little early.  But to gain a better feel for how things are lining up with the 2013 regular season more than 50 percent complete, here's a look at the current playoff picture:

AFC

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)
2. New England Patriots (7-2)
3. Indianapolis Colts (6-2)
4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)
5. Denver Broncos (7-1)
6. New York Jets (5-4)

The Broncos can switch positions with the Chiefs by winning at home in Week 11, regardless of what happens when they face the Chargers on the road this week (although obviously they'd be a lot better off winning both games). Both teams are locked in for the playoffs, but the division title race is up for grabs. Though you'd have to think Denver is the favorite right now.

The loser of that matchup would have to play in Cincinnati if the playoffs started today, while the Colts would host the Jets. Indy should be locked in as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, so that'll be a good battle with New England for a first-round bye. 

The Titans, Dolphins and Chargers are all just a half-game back of the Jets with a game in hand, so the race for that sixth playoff spot should reach Week 17.

NFC

1. Seattle Seahawks (8-1)
2. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
3. Detroit Lions (5-3)
4. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
6. Carolina Panthers (5-3)

This is a bloody mess. Chicago and Green Bay are both 5-3 but currently out of the playoffs due to two separate early tiebreakers with the Lions and Panthers. Detroit, Carolina, Chicago and Green Bay are jumbled together. Arizona is also in the conversation, one game back at 4-4.

Unless San Francisco charges past the Seahawks, they're probably the fifth seed, which means they're very likely to travel to Dallas, Philly or Washington wild-card weekend.

I also want to mention that Fox or NBC would thank the heavens for that Dallas-San Francisco playoff matchup.

Current playoff teams that didn't make it last year: 6 out of 12 (KC, the Jets, New Orleans, Detroit, Dallas, Carolina)

Inter-conference games: NFC leads 24-23

Teams above .500: 14

Teams below .500: 14

4-4 teams: 4 (13 percent of the league)

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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