NFL playoff spots filling up fast

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills during the...

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, November 11, 2012. (REUTERS)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:36 PM ET

There are still seven weeks to play, but the NFL's playoff spots are filling up faster than you might think.

Because 18 of the league's 32 teams are wallowing with losing records -- 10 of them in the mostly putrid AFC -- many of the teams above .500 are way above level.

Which means we probably don't even need to have an eraser handy to pencil in most division champs.

Sure, it's possible Houston or Atlanta or New England might lose all its remaining games. Just as it's possible Cleveland will finish 9-7.

Notwithstanding such crazy talk, here are your probable division winners -- and wild-card contenders:

AFC

East

New England (now 6-3)

North

Baltimore (7-2) or Pittsburgh (*5-3)

South

Houston (8-1)

West

Denver (6-3)

Wild card 1

Baltimore (7-2) or Pittsburgh (*5-3)

Wild card 2

Indianapolis (6-3)

Lesser chance

Cincinnati (4-5)

Miami (4-5)

San Diego (4-5)

* before Monday night's game vs K.C.

NFC

East

NY Giants (6-4)

North

Chicago (7-2) or Green Bay (6-3)

South

Atlanta (8-1)

West

San Francisco (6-2-1) or Seattle (6-4)

Wild card 1

Chicago (7-2) or Green Bay (6-3)

Wildcard 2

San Francisco (6-2-1) or Seattle (6-4)

Minnesota (6-4)

Tampa Bay (5-4)

Lesser chance

Arizona (4-5)

Dallas (4-5)

Detroit (4-5)

New Orleans (4-5)

See? All six playoff spots sure do look set in the AFC -- barring a collapse by one of them, or a team with a losing record getting hot and staying there through December.

And in the NFC, Dallas at 5-5 would be back in the thick of the East hunt with a win Sunday over Cleveland, but with the Cowboys this year we're presuming nothing.

In both conferences, the extrapolations all look pretty familiar. In fact it's still possible that all 12 playoff teams from 2011 might return to the big show.

Nine of the 12, at any rate, appear to be good bets to play again in January -- all but Cincinnati in the AFC, and New Orleans and Detroit in the NFC.

But, as defiant Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid reiterated Monday, "You don't count anybody out in the National Football League."

Noted!

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants/


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