Currently, seven of the eight divisions feature a team in or tied for the top spot that did not win its division in 2010. If this holds, it would mark the most new division winners in a season since realignment in 2002.
With two games remaining to be played in the 2011 regular season, 22 teams remain in contention for the playoffs. Four teams - New England, Houston, Green Bay and San Francisco - have won their divisions. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans have all clinched their playoff berths.
With Houston moving from last to first in their division, this season marks an NFL-record ninth consecutive season that at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last place.
"Any Given Sunday." As true this season as it's ever been.
A short preview of all sixteen games as well as our picks, after the break.
HOU @ IND: The Colts finally got their first win against the Titans last week. They put up 27 points on the Titans, can they repeat that against the Texans? After all, the Texans have lost all four games in which they've allowed more than 20 points this year. Best of all, the Colts could win this one and still retain the number one draft pick ... nah. BTB Consensus says: Houston
MIA @ NE: After starting 0-7 with a -8 turnover ratio, the Dolphins are 5-2 since with a +3 turnover ratio. The Patriots have a +12 TO ratio for the season. The
JAC @ TEN: The Jaguars have scored more than 20 points only once this season, in an improbable 41-14 thrashing of the Buccaneers. The Titans remain mathematically alive in the playoff race. If only they hadn't lost to the terrible, terrible, terrible Colts, they'd be right up there in the playoff hunt with the Jets and Bengals. BTB Consensus says: Tennessee
TB @ CAR: The Buccaneers have given up an average of 32 points in their current 8-game losing streak, which makes them easily the worst team in the NFL right now. The Panthers have scored an average of 29 points in their recent 3-1 run. BTB Consensus says: Carolina
CLE @ BAL: The Browns play a surprisingly good defense, but their inept offense has scored the third fewest points in the league. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are far from a sure thing. If you thought the Cowboys were erratic this season, you haven't watched the Ravens much. The Ravens beat the Browns handily three weeks ago, yet as erratic as they may be, there is no reason to expect that to be different this time. BTB Consensus says: Baltimore
ARI @ CIN: Theare 6-1 over their last seven games behind a dramatically improved defense. The Bengals are 2-4 over their last six and have barely eked out wins against the NFL powerhouses St. Louis and Cleveland. A.J. Green has a separated shoulder and will likely not practice all week. Whether he'll play will be a gametime decision. Without Green, the Bengals will struggle: Wide receiver Andre Caldwell has just 8.6 yards per catch, which is the lowest value in the league for all receivers with at least 50 targets. Both teams still have hopes for making the playoffs, so this'll likely be a hard-fought game. BTB Consensus says: Cincinnati
MIN @ WAS: The Redskins seem to have found their mojo, albeit a little too late. They came close to beating the Patriots two weeks ago and dismantled Eli Manning and the Giants last week. At 110.8 the Vikings have the worst defensive passer rating of any team in the league. Look for Rex Grossman to go deep often - and successfully. BTB Consensus says: Washington
DEN @ BUF: Tebowmania travels to Buffalo, and nobody wants to see it - the game will be blacked out locally. At 48.6 % The Tebow has the lowest completion percentage of any passer in the league. This should be a welcome respite for Buffalo's pass defense, which has the sixth worst defensive passer rating (92.0) in the league. Unfortunately, the Bills are also the league's fourth worst run defense, allowing 4.8 yards per carry. Not a good place to be against Broncos, who lead the league in rushing yards. BTB Consensus says: Denver
STL @ PIT: The Rams feature the worst offense in the league and the 25th ranked defense. As for the Steelers, in a "heroic" effort, Roethlisberger did play against the 49ers after all - as I had predicted early on. They are now so busy crafting the legend of Big Ben and preparing for walkovers against the Rams and Browns in consecutive weeks en route to the playoffs that this could easily end up as a trap game for Pittsburgh. BTB Consensus says: Pittsburgh
OAK @ KC: The Raiders gave up a first and second round pick for Palmer, who has led them to a 3-5 record with 13 interceptions. Not a good place to be as they head to Kansas City, who're flying high off an improbable win over the Packers. But the Chiefs remain a bad team. BTB Consensus says: Oakland
NYG @ NYJ: The Battle of New Jersey features two struggling teams chasing their rapidly vanishing playoff hopes in a game that could have big implications for the Cowboys. The game between the two geographically challenged teams will be decided by the quarterback play. The Giants have the better quarterback, but the Jets have the better pass defense, and Victor Cruz announcing that "We’re going to throw the ball at Darrelle Revis" may be just the type of thing that decides this game. BTB Consensus says: Jets
SD @ DET: The Lions really, really, need to win this game to make the playoffs, because clinching the playoffs the next week at Lambeau field is a shaky proposition at best. They are thisclose to ending their 11-season playoff drought, but the Chargers really, really, need a win as well (and losses by the Broncos and Jets) to keep their wildcard hopes alive. The Chargers have won their last three by an average of 36-13, the Lions won their last two by an average score of 31-28. BTB Consensus says: Detroit
PHI @ DAL: While there are scenarios where the Cowboys could lose this game and still make the playoffs, that's not what Cowboys fans are looking for. BTB Consensus says: Dallas
SF @ SEA: Last weekend, kicker David Akers broke the 49ers single season scoring record, and here's why: The 49ers have made a habit of settling for field goals. They've scored only five touchdowns on their past 23 trips inside opponents' 20-yard line. Only the Chiefs and the Rams have a worse TD percentage from inside 20 yards. The Seahawks won't make the playoffs again this year, but are riding a 5-1 hot streak and are always a force to be reckoned with at home. The 49ers are playing off a short week, they have travel and Pete Carroll will take every chance he gets to put one over on Jim Harbaugh. BTB Consensus says: San Francisco
CHI @ GB: The Caleb Hanie era in Chicago has come to a close after four consecutive losses. With Cutler under center - and with Matt Forte as the running back - the Bears scored an average of 26.8 points per game. That dropped to 11.8 with Hanie, and now the Bears think Josh McCown is the answer at QB. And after the humiliation the Packers suffered at the hands of the Chiefs last week, now may be a really bad time for Chicago to play Green Bay. There will be no presents on Christmas eve for the Bears in this storied rivalry. BTB Consensus says: Green Bay
ATL @ NO: The Saints have locked up a playoff berth and a win gives them the division. Brees needs 305 yards passing to surpass Dan Marino's record of 5,084 passing yards in a season. Perhaps even more impressive, he's now thrown at least one TD in 41 consecutive games, just seven off the record held by Johnny Unitas. Brees, Brees, Brees. The Falcons must be sick of it. But will they do something about it? BTB Consensus says: New Orleans
Here are our entire week 16, 2011 picks.