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An Early Look at the 2016 NFL Playoffs Field

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[lead align=”default”]Most people are ready for some football; looking ahead to the 2016 NFL playoffs comes with the territory.[/lead]

The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos replaced their quarterback, Peyton Manning, who in retirement now has a wide-open schedule for Papa John’s commercials. They think Trevor Siemian is the answer under center, but good enough to lead the Broncos back to the big stage?

With that defense, he only needs to be serviceable and decidedly not terrible. There is some latitude for him to grow, but when substituting a Hall-of-Famer for a rookie, well, you know.

Then there are the Carolina Panthers, perhaps the best team in football last year that could not find one more win in them. When it comes to the NFC, they have a clear shot at home field advantage once again, though there may be a few other teams with a chance at upsetting the order of things.

First, an early look at the theoretical AFC playoff picture.

2016 NFL Playoffs Early Look: AFC

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New England Patriots. I don’t care what you say about Brady’s suspension: they’re still the freaking Patriots and winning the AFC East is a near given.

Cincinnati Bengals. So the playoffs don’t normally end up well for them. It seems likely they will get there, and then we’ll see what’s what.

Pittsburgh Steelers. James Harrison is free of the NFL’s clutches, and playoff runs seem to be the thing for the black and yellow.

Other Playoff Hopefuls

Denver Broncos. The Broncos would not be the first Super Bowl winner to miss the postseason the following year, but this is a playoff-worthy defense.

Kansas City Chiefs. They turned out to be very good last season, and there’s no reason they can’t go 9-7 or 10-6 in 2016.

New York Jets. Gang Green (not to be confused with gangrene) missed by so little in 2015. Get the right tiebreaker this time and they might get there.

Houston Texans. Maybe a middle of the road team, but depending on how the Colts look, the AFC South might be theirs again.

Indianapolis Colts. Good Andrew Luck needs to return; if he does, Indy has a shot at topping the division.

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