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San Diego made late-season runs under coach Norv Turner in the past two years, and the schedule is set up for yet another surge. The Chargers, winners of three in a row, could be dangerous in the playoffs—they ended the Colts' season in the last two Januaries.
6. BENGALS (Wild card)
Marvin Lewis has his club believing. Carson Palmer is healthy and back in form, Cedric Benson has provided the running attack Cincy lacked in previous seasons, and the defense is coming together under second-year coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Wild-card Round PATRIOTS over BENGALS, CHARGERS over BRONCOS
Divisional Round CHARGERS over COLTS, STEELERS over PATRIOTS
Championship Game STEELERS over CHARGERS
1. SAINTS (South)
New Orleans has become the most complete team in football thanks to a healthy offensive cast around Drew Brees (below) and a new defensive philosophy instilled by coordinator Gregg Williams. They could have the comfort of spending the playoffs in the Superdome.