Complete NFL Playoff Scenarios: Week 15

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NFL 2010-11 Playoff Scenarios

The NFL Playoff picture got a little clearer after Week 14. The official list of eliminated teams had the Redskins, Cowboys, Vikings, and Browns added to it bringing the number of teams officially eliminated from playoff contention to nine.

In the AFC, the Jets missed a golden opportunity to cement their chances as a playoff team. In the last two weeks they went from possibly having a first round bye and home field advantage throughout, to having must win games just to have to get in. In the NFC, the pain of the Bears getting crushed was eased somewhat by the Packers loss to the Lions.

There are three games left and only one team (New England) has clinched a playoff spot. There are six divisions that still have at least one team within a game of the leader. It's setting up to be a pretty wild three-week stretch to determine the 11 unfilled postseason berths.


Seed Team AFC DIVISION LEADERS Record Remaining Opponents
1 East 11-2-0 vs. Packers (8-5), at Bills (3-10), vs. Dolphins (7-6)
New England Patriots - The Patriots are the first team to clinch a playoff berth and can smell an AFC East title. At this point their focus is on securing homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
2 North 10-3-0 vs. Jets (9-4), vs. Panthers (1-12), @ Browns (5-8)
Pittsburgh Steelers - Depending on what the Ravens do on tonight night, the Steelers will have at least a one-game lead with three to go. With two of those opponents combining for just six victories, it's all about positioning.
3 West 8-5-0 @ Rams (6-7), vs. Titans (5-8), vs. Raiders (6-7)
Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs had an opportunity to knock the Chargers out of the AFC West race, but because they couldn't, they now must contend with San Diego the rest of the way.
4 South 8-5-0 @ Colts (7-6), vs. Redskins (5-8), @ Texans (5-7)
Jacksonville Jaguars - Two of the Jaguars' final three games are on the road against the two teams chasing them. Their game next week against the Colts could be for all the marbles as it may end up determining the division winner and perhaps the sole playoff spot from the division.
5 North 9-4-0 vs. Saints (9-3), @ Browns (5-7), vs. Bengals (2-10)
Baltimore Ravens -Playoffs shouldn't be an issue with a favorable remaining schedule, a head-to-head tie-breaker over the sixth-seeded Jets, and the nearest non-playoff qualifier at this point two games back.
6 East 9-4-0 @ Steelers (10-3), @ Bears (9-4), vs. Bills (3-10)
New York Jets - Forget the AFC East, the Jets' biggest challenge now might be hanging on to the No. 6 seed. Tough road games in next two weeks could make for a very interesting season finale for a team that was all but a lock three weeks ago.
7 West 7-6-0 vs. 49ers (5-8), @ Bengals (2-11), @ Broncos (3-10)
San Diego Chargers - One week after looking like they were on verge of getting eliminated from the division race, the Chargers are very much back in it. They're just a game in back of the Chiefs with three to go, and they own the easiest remaining schedule of all playoff-eligible AFC teams.
8 South 7-6-0 vs. Jaguars (8-5), @ Raiders (6-7), vs. Titans (5-8)
Indianapolis Colts - One week after looking like they were on verge of getting eliminated from the division race, the Chargers are very much back in it. They're just a game in back of the Chiefs with three to go, and they own the easiest remaining schedule of all playoff-eligible AFC teams.
9 East 7-6-0 vs. Bills (3-10), vs. Lions (3-10), @ Patriots (11-2)
Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins evened up their division and conference marks by beating the Jets, but they still have an uphill battle. In their favor is a schedule that has them playing two teams with a combined six victories and a third that could have nothing to play for in Week 17.
10 West 6-7-0 vs. Broncos (3-10), vs. Colts (7-6), @ Chiefs (8-5)
Oakland Raiders - The Raiders' loss to Jacksonville was devastating. With two teams in front of them in the AFC West, they must now win out and get quite a bit of help.
11 South 5-8-0 @ Titans (5-7), @ Broncos (3-9), vs. Jaguars (7-5)
Houston Texans - Tough loss on Monday night. This team has had the most devastating losses in the league by far. They are still hanging in there, if only by a thread. Their only hope is to win their final three games and perhaps the season finale vs. Jacksonville will have meaning where they can win the division @ 8-8.
13 South 5-8-0 vs. Texans (5-7), @ Chiefs (8-5), @ Colts (7-6)
Tennessee Titans- They are not yet mathematically out, but it's just a formality. As conference teams play each other their elimination will be a matter of time.
12 North 5-8-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Cleveland Browns - Eliminated with Monday Nights Ravens win.  They have found both their RB and QB of the future in Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy. They should be able to challenge for a playoff spot next year.
14 West 3-10-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Denver Broncos - What a disaster this season has turned out to be. Josh McDanials personnel decision set this team back years. The'll have a new coach and new direction next year. Given that they are out of contention, you may see Tim Tebow get some playing time as owner Pat Bowlen may want to see what he has.
15 East 3-10-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Buffalo Bills - This team has not given up all year and is playing much better that it did at the beginning. They have found a QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick, a WR in Steve Johnson and things are definitely looking up in the snowy city.
16 East 2-11-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Cincinnati Bengals - Clean house and get a new roster of players and coaches. If there's a way that they can get rid of Carson Palmer twice they should try that. Does he even look anymore before he throws it?


Seed Team NFC DIVISION LEADERS Record Remaining Opponents
1 South 11-2-0 @ Seahawks (6-7), vs. Saints (10-3), vs. Panthers (1-12)
Atlanta Falcons - Clearly the class of the NFC, the Falcons can clinch a playoff berth with a loss by the Giants on Tonight.
2 North 9-4-0 @ Vikings (5-7), vs. Jets (9-4), @ Packers (8-5)
Chicago Bears - Well that was ugly! The Bears blew a chance to put distance between themselves and the Packers. Instead, they have to guard against doubt creeping in. Just a game in front of Green Bay, season finale at Packers could still determine NFC North winner, and eliminate the loser from the playoffs.
3 East 9-4-0 @ Giants (8-4), vs. Vikings (5-7), vs. Cowboys (4-9)
Philadelphia Eagles - If the Giants win tonight, next weeks matchup against their familiar foes will likely determine the NFC East. The Eagles won the first one, but this one's in New York. A first-round bye will likely be at stake.
4 West 6-7-0 vs. Chiefs (8-5), vs. 49ers (5-8), @ Seahawks (6-7)
St. Louis Rams - The Rams had an opportunity to go a game a half up in the division on Seattle but couldn't get it done against the Saints. They're still in good position with three games left because they've already beaten the Seahawks once. A sweep in the season finale could potentially give them their first playoff berth since 2003.
5 South 10-3-0 at Ravens (8-4), at Falcons (11-2), vs. Buccaneers (8-5)
New Orleans Saints - On a six-game winning streak, the Saints are rolling, but their remaining schedule will no doubt test them. They have a tight grip on the No. 5 seed, but they have bigger goals than that; the division could be up for grabs in Week 16 at Atlanta who won the teams' first matchup.
6 East 9-4-0 vs. Eagles (8-4), @ Packers (8-4), @ Redskins (5-7)
New York Giants - A win over the Eagles this week is a must after dropping one in Philadelphia last month. Game at Green Bay the following week looms large if Giants have wild-card aspirations.
7 South 8-5-0 vs. Lions (3-10), vs. Seahawks (6-7), @ Saints (10-3)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs are right back in it, but still need help down the stretch. While the division is out of reach but wild card isn't, although they better hope the Saints have nothing to play for in Week 17.
8 North 8-5-0 vs. Broncos (3-10), vs. Colts (7-6), @ Chiefs (8-5)
Green Bay Packers - The divisional loss to Lions was devastating to hopes of winning the NFC North. If Packers win out and tie Chicago for the lead, Bears would still have better mark in the NFC North and all Green Bay could hope for is a wild-card berth. With Aaron Rogers having his second concussion of the season, things are not looking good for the cheese heads.
9 West 6-7-0 vs. Falcons (11-2), @ Buccaneers (8-5), vs. Rams (6-7)
Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks keep hanging around because as a matter of default as they are one game below .500 yet tied for the division lead. At this point, Seattle can only hope that the finale vs. St. Louis has meaning.
12 West 5-8-0 @ Chargers (7-6), @ Rams (6-7), vs. Cardinals (4-9)
San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers' challenge will be trying to leapfrog two teams in three weeks. But they're only one game back and have a superior division mark over the Rams and Seahawks. They've also beaten the Rams once and split with Seattle. Week 16 matchup at St. Louis will have a say in who wins division.
13 West 4-9-0 @ Panthers (1-12), vs. Cowboys (4-9), @ 49ers (5-8)
Arizona Cardinals - It's pretty funny to say that a team that is 4-9 is not mathematically eliminated yet. But hey, it's the NFC West. If they can get Kurt Warner to come out of retirement, perhaps they can keep Larry Fitzgerald. Short of that, they guy isn't long for the desert. While mathematically they aren't eliminated yet, it's just a formality the division teams square off against each other they will meat their final fate.
10 North 5-7-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Minnesota Vikings - Officially eliminated with Monday night's loss to the Giants. It appears that Leslie Frazier will get the job for next year, but who the quaterback will be remains a big mystery.
11 East 5-8-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Washington Redskins Ok, they are officially eliminate now. This year was a disaster for the franchise. One wonders if Shanahan knew that he was gong to have to deal with the McNabb fiasco and the Haynesworth debacle whether he would have taken the job. No tears for the guy however as if you are going to work for Daniel Snyder it's caveat emptor! Rome wasn't built in a day and apparently Washington won't be either.
14 East 4-9-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Dallas Cowboys
15 North 3-10-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Detroit Lions - The Lions really don't have any choice other than to find out if Matthew Stafford can be the guy. It doesn't really matter how good he is or could be if he can't stay on the field. Detroit will be somewhere at the top of the draft board again this year. They'll take another great athlete and give it another shot next year. Whether it's Stafford or someone else under center, there really isn't any reason they should not be a playoff contender next year as they have plenty-o talent on both sides of the ball.
16 South 1-11-0 Who cares who they play, they are out.
Carolina Panthers And the 1st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft is, Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford.... The most interesting thing will be to see if Jim Harbaugh comes along with Luck in a package deal. If not, expect home town Bill Cowher or another high profile coach to be driving the bus in Carolina next year.

Mike Cardano is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.

Email Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at MC3SportsMedia - Best Sports Blogs, Sports Blogger Rankings


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