ON FOOTBALL: Predicting the NFL is a fool’s game

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Plus, the West-winning Broncos finish with home games against weaklings Cleveland and Kansas City.

New England’s strange loss to the 49ers puts it in a precarious position for a club that certainly looked like the league’s best before Sunday. If it beats Jacksonville and Miami, it will finish 12-4, but that might get only the third seed and no bye for the East champ.

It also could mean a trip to the Mile High City in the divisional round.

The North has three teams struggling to reach the finish line. Baltimore (9-5) has lost three in a row, yet secured a playoff berth Sunday. It leads Cincinnati by one game and finishes with the Bengals after meeting the Giants next weekend.

Cincinnati and the Steelers (7-7) face off next week at Pittsburgh. A loss pretty much eliminated the Steelers.

The Colts (9-5) have the best shot at a wild card and a win at Kansas City next week should do it.

Not that we’re predicting any such thing these days.

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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