Updated Dec. 11
What's left to decide?
We have three weeks left in the regular season and the playoff field is pretty much set. We basically have one playoff spot in each conference to be decided.
|Philip Rivers came through to keep San Diego on track to repeat as AFC West champ. (Getty Images)|
So much for important December games. The two hottest things going are whether the New England Patriots will go undefeated and whether the Miami Dolphins will go winless.
Can we start the playoffs now? We can pretty much map out the playoffs.
Let's start with the AFC. The Patriots will have the top seed, the Colts the second. They get byes. That means barring major changes, the first week will have the Steelers and the Chargers playing home games. Either the Jaguars or Browns will play in San Diego, and the other, or even Buffalo, will play in Pittsburgh. The Steelers and Chargers can still lose out in their division races, but it isn't likely.
The NFC isn't much different. The Cowboys and Packers will get first-week byes. That leaves the Seahawks and the Bucs to likely host first-round playoff games. The fourth seed will play host to the Giants, the third will play host to the team that sneaks in as the sixth seed. That team will come from a group consisting of Minnesota and a handful of others, with the Vikings having the inside track.
So what's left to decide? Only playoff positioning in both conferences and probably one playoff spot.
What happened to great division races being decided on the final week? What happened to parity, where all fans had hope with three weeks left?
Which of the teams likely to get a bye will be upset in the playoffs?
None of them
Total Votes: 69,238
Here's what happened: There are four dominant teams, eight others that are good and the rest aren't.
That makes for a top-heavy league and top-heavy CBSSports.com Power Rankings. The top four teams are the elite of the rankings. We have New England, Dallas, Indianapolis and Green Bay.
On paper, it appears those four will be the four teams in the conference championship games in just over a month.
What has given us any indication that it won't be that way?
Most years, there is a team that makes a surprise playoff run. But it sure doesn't look that way this year. Then again, we know better than to try and think we can predict the playoffs already.
But you do have to admit that the only drama of the final three weeks is New England's greatness, Miami's ineptness and two playoff spots.
January can't get here soon enough. Even that looks predictable because of the Big Four.
The Power Rankings through Week 14: