5 Teams Putting Themselves Back in the NFL Playoff Mix After Week 14
The 2012 NFL playoffs are almost here, but these next few weeks could drastically alter the complexion of the postseason picture.
There are a variety of teams still in the hunt. Even more impressive are the teams that managed to pull out massive wins in Week 14 to r-enter the postseason picture.
The odds may not be great, but several teams are at least back in the conversation. Sometimes in the NFL, that's more than enough.
Let's take a look at a few teams that notched big wins in Week 14 and now have a chance to make the playoffs.
New York Jets
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Despite the quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and a few others, the New York Jets are actually closer to playoff contention than many might have guessed.
The Jets won an important game in Jacksonville in Week 14 when New York downed the Jaguars, 17-10. It wasn't an impressive win by any means, but it certainly placed Rex Ryan's team back into the conversation.
There are currently two teams at 7-6 in front of the Jets that are competing for the last Wild Card slot. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are in front, but the Jets have moved closer with a 6-7 record.
It's going to take a lot for the Jets to get into the postseason at this point, but the win over Jacksonville was a step in the right direction.
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After a Week 14 victory over the Chicago Bears in a NFC North showdown, the Minnesota Vikings have managed to re-emerge as a contender for the postseason.
With Adrian Peterson running wild, the Vikings have bounced back from a disappointing stretch and are in a spot to compete for the final Wild Card in the NFC.
Minnesota is tied with two other teams at 7-6, the other two being the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. The No. 6 seed for now is the Seattle Seahawks, a team that sits at 8-5.
Similar to other teams on the list, there's a small chance the Vikings can work their way into the postseason. That may be enough, especially with the way Peterson is playing.
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Don't look now, but the Cleveland Browns have won three games in a row and are still in the playoff hunt after a Week 14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Browns are rolling behind the legs of rookie running back Trent Richardson and an emerging offensive unit with two electric rookie receivers in Travis Benjamin and Josh Gordon.
Cleveland currently sits at 5-8, with the teams in front of it for the Wild Card being the New York Jets (6-7), Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6).
At this point the Browns need to win out, which isn't that outlandish considering the roll Cleveland has been on as of late. While 8-8 isn't likely to make the postseason in a normal year, this has been quite the strange year for the AFC.
The Browns aren't completely out of it, which is nothing but a great sign for the franchise.
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The Dallas Cowboys needed a Week 14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the face of tragedy to keep its postseason hopes alive.
Dallas traveled to Cincinnati and took care of business, 20-19.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys now sit at 7-6 heading into Week 15. Dallas is tied with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings, teams that have the same record, but trail the 8-5 Seattle Seahawks who currently sit at 8-5.
It's going to take a strong push from Romo and Co. to grab the last Wild Card spot, but it's far from impossible considering how explosive the offense has been as of late.
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Week 14 was a scary one for the Washington Redskins, who lost star rookie Robert Griffin III to a serious looking knee injury late in the game while the team trailed.
Despite losing their star quarterback, the Redskins won thanks to another rookie, fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins. He entered the game and immediately scored with little time left and then converted on a two-point conversion.
The Redskins now have a 7-6 record, tied with the aforementioned Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys.
Much of the playoff hopes in Washington now hinge on the knee of RG3. If he can return, there's no reason to believe the Redskins cannot keep winning on the way to the postseason as Washington has been the hottest team in the NFL over the past few weeks.