2008 NFL Playoff Picture

2008 NFL Playoff Picture

Finally, Week 17 is Worth Watching

by Badger of Predictem.com

The cast is starting to take shape and get a little clearer, but
theres still plenty of drama left to unfold in the final week of the
NFL season. Week 16 of the regular season was a showstopper this year
because for the first time both of the top seeds in each conference
were fought over on the same field, winner-take-all style instead of
a clinch with a win or so-and-sos loss scenario.

Tennessee and the New York Giants won those battles to clinch home-
field advantage throughout the AFC and NFC playoffs, but more
importantly, week 16 of the 2008 season may become more memorable for
what didnt happen than what did happen. So many teams choked away
their chances that now weve got the NFLs Christmas wish come true
an exciting and meaningful week 17 of the regular season.

Lets look back first at week 16 action before we dive headfirst into
whats in store for NFL fans in week 17.

Stumble and You Fall

In the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both could
have clinched a spot in the postseason with wins at home, but they
both lost in stunning fashion. The Bucs dropped a 41-24 decision to
an inspired San Diego Chargers. The Vikings lost 24-17 to the Atlanta
Falcons, and due to the Bucs loss, it was the Falcons with a rookie
quarterback and rookie head coach that instead clinched a birth into
the postseason.

The Philadelphia Eagles could have helped their chances greatly by dispatching a down-n-out Washington Redskins team, but the Skins
stopped the Eagles on the 1-yard line as time expired to sneak away
with a 10-3 victory.

The AFC picture was flipped upside down on Sunday, specifically in the AFC East.

The Jets were in the drivers seat, but their West Coast woes
continued in a 13-3 loss at Seattle. Now its the Miami Dolphins who
find themselves behind the wheel, as their 38-31 victory over the
Kansas City Chiefs, combined with the Jets loss puts them at the top
of the AFC East standings. The New England Patriots 47-7 beat down of
the Arizona Cardinals also kept them alive in the division as well.

The division that no one wants to win, the AFC West, will also come
down to a head-to-head matchup for all the marbles. The Denver
Broncos made that scenario a reality by losing to Buffalo 30-23 on
Sunday. The Broncos loss combined with the Chargers miracle in Tampa
means that the AFC West may just be won by a team with an 8-8 record.

What We Already Know

In the AFC, Tennessee won the AFC South and is the No. 1 seed, has a
first-round bye, and has home-field advantage throughout the
playoffs. Pittsburgh won the AFC North and the No. 2 seed, and also
gets a first-round bye.

Also, the Indianapolis Colts clinched the No. 5 seed as the top wild card team already.

In the NFC, the New York Giants won the NFC East and earned the No.1 seed, a first-round bye and home field throughout with their victory over Carolina in week 16. Carolina is still playoff bound, but they
will have to beat the New Orleans Saints in their finale on Sunday to
clinch the NFC South and earn a first-round bye.

Arizona won the NFC West title and the No. 4 seed, and most likely
will host the Atlanta Falcons, winners of the No. 5 seed and top wild
card spot, in the opening round of the playoffs. Although the Falcons
could still win the NFC South with a lot of help.

Week 17 Scenarios

Heres what we all have to watch for in the final week of the regular season, starting with the NFC first.

Carolina needs to win on the road in New Orleans to clinch the NFC South and a first-round bye. Even with a loss the Panthers are still in, but theyll be playing for a bye, which makes it a crucial game
for them in the finale.

Minnesota still only needs one victory to clinch the NFC North, but they may get an early Christmas present from the rival Green Bay
Packers on Monday Night Football tonight. If the Packers can beat the
Bears tonight, the Vikings are in regardless of how they play Sunday
at home versus the New York Giants. If the Bears win, they face a
road game at Houston in the final week and a little scoreboard
watching as the Vikings take on the defending Super Bowl champs.

The Dallas Cowboys currently hold the tiebreaker for the sixth and
final NFC wild card spot, but they go head-to-head with the Eagles in
Philly the final week of the season. If the Cowboys win, they are in.
If they lose, the Eagles will need Tampa Bay to lose to Oakland at
home in order to jump ahead of them in the standings. If both Dallas
and Tampa lose, Philly gets the final wild card spot.

The AFC playoff picture is basically clear, we just have to settle a few divisions in order to determine who is playing whom in the opening round.

All eyes will be on the Miami Dolphins and New Your Jets game in the
Meadowlands Sunday. If the Dolphins win they are in. The Jets however
need to win and have the Patriots lose at Buffalo to get back to the
top of the AFC East.

If the Dolphins win all is not necessarily lost for the Patriots, as they could still leapfrog over the Baltimore Ravens for the sixth and
final AFC wild card spot if they beat Buffalo and the Ravens lose to
Jacksonville in their finale.

Then all eyes will turn to the Denver at San Diego game on Sunday Night Football in a winner-takes-all contest for the AFC West title.