The playoff picture page on NFL.com is hypnotic. Use it long enough, and the secrets of the 2012 season will be revealed. Or you'll at least write a post with some takeaways heading into Week 12.
The Houston Texans, who can clinch a playoff spot, remain in great position for the No. 1 seed in the AFC because they hold the tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens and a two game lead over the New England Patriots. So they need to lose multiple games to let the other teams back in it. That's very possible.
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How wide open will AFC race be?
If the Colts are a wild card caliber team they will beat the Buffalo Bills at home and knock them out of the race. If the Colts lose, the Bills hang around with a tiebreaker edge over Indy. It provides hope to teams like the Tennessee Titans or San Diego Chargers. We're still not sure how good these Colts really are. It wouldn't surprise us if they came back to the pack.
The Steelers head to Baltimore in Week 13 with a backup quarterback at the helm. That makes this week's game, against an underrated Cleveland team, so vital. If Charlie Batch can't pull it off, the Steelers will be staring at a potential three-game losing streak and a 6-6 record. If they can manage a win this week, then the Steelers can survive Ben Roethlisberger's injury and remain in great position.
»The Chargers can forget about the AFC West. Any realistic chance for a wild card spot has to start with a win against Baltimore.
The Green Bay Packers already have three losses, including one to another contender for a playoff bye (San Francisco). Green Bay will also lose any tiebreaker to the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers have a lot of big games left, but any path to a bye will be drastically diminished if they lose to the New York Giants.