NFL Playoff Picture – Week 15

NFL Playoff Picture for Week 15
by Badger of

The herd of teams involved in the playoff race in the National Football League thinned out over the weekend. In the NFC, the only race remaining is for the final wild card birth. In the AFC nothing is certain except the Patriots and Colts, making it the playoff race to keep watching in these final weeks.

The NFC: A Non-Race

This past weekend killed some of the excitement in the NFC. The Dallas Cowboys ( 12-1, NFC East), Green Bay Packers (11-2, NFC North), and Seattle Seahawks (9-4, NFC West) all clinched their respective divisions, eliminating a lot of season-ending drama.

Tampa Bay (8-5) is sitting in the drivers seat in the NFC West, where the New Orleans Saints (6-7) still have a snowball-in-hell chance at winning the final divisional race. Tampa just needs to win this week at home versus Atlanta, or have the Saints lose or tie to Arizona.

The New York Giants (9-4) are sitting real pretty as the top wildcard team. They face Washington at home this week, and a win would make them a wild card lock.

With basically one spot left, here are the remaining few and their scenarios:

Minnesota Vikings (7-6) – If the playoffs started today, the Vikings would be the final wild card. So needless to say, they control their destiny down the stretch where every game is a must-win game. The Vikings host Chicago on Monday Night Football.

New Orleans Saints (6-7) – The Saints own the best tiebreaker (best record vs. NFC) of all the 6-7 teams, but a tough schedule starting with a home game versus Arizona this weekend.

Washington Redskins (6-7) – Washington has the toughest road ahead versus an all-playoff-team schedule (at Giants, at Minnesota, Dallas). If they can do it, they will have earned it.

Arizona Cardinals (6-7) – Arizona has the easiest road, but the Cardinals have been stumbling and bumbling in recent weeks. The Cards have a showdown in New Orleans this week, followed by winnable games at home versus Atlanta and St. Louis.

Detroit Lions (6-7) – Detroit also faces slim odds at winning-out with games left at San Diego this week and at Green Bay to end the season. Didnt Kitna say they would win 10 games before the season?

The AFC: Jockeying For Position

The AFC race in the NFL is wide open, sort of, depending on your perspective. We already know the Patriots (13-0) and the Colts (11-2) are in, but the rest of the field is basically known too. Its just the positioning of those teams, and who gets home field advantage, that will be determined in these final three weeks.

Heres what to watch for this weekend:

Pittsburgh (9-4) can win the AFC North with a win over Jacksonville or a Cleveland Browns loss to Buffalo.

San Diego (8-5) can also clinch an AFC Divisional crown this weekend, winning the South with a win over Detroit (or a Denver loss to Houston).

Jacksonville (9-4) and Cleveland (8-5) are the current wildcard teams, both still have outside chances at a divisional crown, but both face big tests this week. The Jaguars play at Pittsburgh, while the Browns host Buffalo.

The desperate few that need help:

Buffalo Bills (7-6) – The Bills play head-to-head with Cleveland this weekend, so a win could launch them from the backseat to the drivers seat in the wildcard. But first things first, they must win Sunday.

Tennessee Titans (7-6) – You can’t count out the Titans either because they have a favorable schedule down the stretch. If they can win at Kansas City this week, they could creep back into the race.

Denver Broncos and Houston Texans ( both at 6-7) – Win-out, simple. The best part of this is that these two teams play each other this weekend (in Houston), so one team stays alive and one gets the golf bags out of storage for vacation.