NY GIANTS (0-5)
Thank God for Jacksonville, or else everyone would be focusing on how terrible the Giants have been this season. Barely twenty months removed from a Super Bowl title, New York has completely fallen apart. Their quarterback leads the NFL in interceptions, their defense leads the league in points allowed, and they're -13 in giveaway/takeaway margin. The good news for the Giants is that if you're going to be bad, be really bad - in the four seasons they've missed the playoffs under Tom Coughlin (2004, 2009, 2010, 2012), they've gone a combined 34-30 and settled for middling draft picks.
Remarkably, the Steelers are only two games behind in the loss column in the AFC North and have only lost one division game. That said, with their inability to run (31st), protect their quarterback (four sacks per game), and stop the run (25th), it doesn't look like a magical playoff rally is in store for Pittsburgh. They've been ravaged by injuries this season, and just don't have any offensive weapons left for Ben Roethlisberger.
Unlike the Giants and Steelers, the Falcons had legitimate Super Bowl hype entering the season. However, following last night’s stunning home loss to the Jets, a 9 1/2 point underdog, Atlanta is now five games back (if you count head-to-head) of first-place New Orleans in the NFC South. A team that entered the season with a 36-12 mark since 2010 is now relegated to playing for an Wild Card spot. Making the playoffs isn’t entirely out of the question. Atlanta’s next three come against the Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Panthers, so a run back to .500 is do-able. But, they still have games remaining against the Packers, Seahawks, 49ers, and a Saints team that has owned them. They’ll likely need to finish 8-3 to have a chance.
Ugh. The talented Texans hit their glass ceiling in December of last year and are 4-7 (including postseason) since an 11-1 start in 2012. Matt Schaub has turned the pick-six into an art form, and has Houston thinking about the dreaded in-season quarterback change (seriously, how often do teams that switch QBs in the middle of the year suddenly rally and make the playoffs?). Houston has also been bit hard by the injury bug as Owen Daniels will miss at least the next six weeks (and possibly the season), and Pro Bowlers Duane Brown and Andrew Johnson have been hobbled for most of the year. This is a team that is circling the toilet.
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