NFL Week 15 Picks: Teams Whose Posteason Hopes Will Be Extinguished

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 9: Corey Wootton #98 of the Chicago Bears sacks Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter of the game on December 9, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The NFL playoff picture is coming into focus with just three weeks left in the season. Both the AFC and NFC have wild-card places left up for grabs.

There are quite a few teams separated by only a game or two, so the margin for error is razor thin. A wrong step in Week 15 could mean doom for a team's chances of playing in the postseason.

Here are three games featuring teams hanging on the edge of the playoff cliff. The team in italics is the one who will be taking a plunge.


St. Louis Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings

Both wild-card spots are up for grabs in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears both have 8-5 records and sit only a game up on the next closest teams.

One of those teams is the Minnesota Vikings. But even with a 7-6 record, they have too tall of a mountain to climb. As of right now the Vikings are behind the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys as a result of various tiebreakers.

They didn't get any help last week, with the Seahawks, Redskins and Cowboys picking up victories. Minnesota will benefit when Dallas and Washington meet in the final week of the season. However, they simply have too much ground to make up in three weeks to get into the postseason.

A game against a rapidly improving St. Louis Rams team doesn't bode well this week. Even with a win, the playoff window will be closing on Minnesota.

Minnesota Vikings 27, St. Louis Rams 18


Tennessee Titans vs. New York Jets

Quite frankly, it's amazing that the New York Jets are still alive in the playoff hunt. Their last two victories over the Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars weren't pretty, but New York got the job done.

Their 6-7 record puts the Jets just outside of a wild-card spot. As it stands, they'll have to make up a game on the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. Much like the Vikings, the New York is helped out by two teams ahead of them still having one game together left on the schedule.

A loss this week, though, eliminates any chance of making the playoffs. The Tennessee Titans are going to give the Jets a very good game. New York has been only average against the run this year, so Chris Johnson could have a huge performance.

Tennessee Titans 27, New York Jets 18


Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals had been surging in recent weeks, winning four in a row before last Sunday. The run ended with a 20-19 loss to the Cowboys. A win would have gotten them into the playoffs with the last wild-card spot.

But with the defeat they failed to make up any ground on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Marvin Lewis will be left ruing the loss because the Bengals' final three games are against the Philadelphia Eagles, Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

The Eagles finally broke the losing duck last week, with Nick Foles having a spectacular performance. They'll be much tougher competition this Thursday than their 4-9 record would have you believe.

Cincinnati's season has been a tale of streaks, starting with a three-game winning streak, followed by a four-game losing streak, which was subsequently followed by a four-game winning streak.

Philadelphia might not have anything to play for, but expect them to pull off the upset and end the Bengals' chances for the postseason.

Philadelphia Eagles 24, Cincinnati Bengals 17