We've made it 14 weeks into the NFL season and already we know of a few teams that have punched their playoff tickets, such as the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons.
As such, you won't see any of those teams on this list, since we're going to see them in the playoffs whether we want to or not.
You also won't see teams such as the Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers listed here, since, barring an epic collapse, they'll be moving on to the second season as well.
However, there are any number of teams that are still scrambling to keep their postseason hopes afloat, and some of them would make for more intriguing storylines than others. So let's take a look at the three teams we'd (and by we, I mean me) most like to see advance.
The Indianapolis Colts are on the border of being too sure of a bet to even be included here. At 9-4, the Colts are well on their way to making the playoffs, but since they're technically fighting for a wild-card spot, we'll give them a mention.
Coming off of a 2-14 fiasco of a season, what the Colts have accomplished this year is truly remarkable, especially considering that the team is led by a rookie quarterback and all the adversity that the new coaching staff has faced in its first year running the show in Indianapolis.
Of course, the cause of most of that adversity has been head coach Chuck Pagano's battle with leukemia. The team and the city of Indianapolis have rallied around Pagano this season, and with Pagano finished with his chemotherapy, his doctor recently told Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star that the odds of Pagano making a return to the sidelines this year are increasing.
"Things are going well," Dr. Larry Cripe, Pagano's physician said. "He's received all of the chemotherapy he was to receive. Now it's just a matter of over the next couple of weeks recovering back to health. He can start conditioning and moving towards what he wants to do, which is return to coaching."
For Pagano to be able to make that return in front of a national audience in a postseason game would be a truly uplifting story, and frankly, it's the kind of story the NFL both needs and that we don't see nearly as often as we should.
Of all the teams included here, the Minnesota Vikings are probably the least likely to make the playoffs, as even after a huge win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Vikings remain a one-dimensional team on offense.
But man, what a dimension it is.
Running back Adrian Peterson is having one of the best seasons by a ball-carrier in the NFL in recent memory. The sixth-year pro is already only seven yards shy of topping Maurice Jones-Drew's league-leading total from a season ago, but as Peter King of Sports Illustrated recently pointed out, Peterson has his sights set a fair bit higher than that.
Adrian Peterson tells me his eye is on Eric Dickerson's all-time record of 2,105 yards, not just 2,000. Needs 506 to break it now.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) December 10, 2012
What makes Peterson's phenomenal 2012 season all the more astounding is that he tore both his ACL and MCL last Christmas Eve, and as a fan of smash-mouth football, I can think of no better holiday gift than "All Day" continuing his 2012 campaign into the playoffs.
No, I didn't forget about him.
The Indianapolis Colts may have had more success as a team this season, but as rookie quarterbacks go in 2012, it's been the year of the Griffin.
Robert Griffin of the Washington Redskins has electrified the National Football League this year with his athleticism, but it's been his efficiency with the football that's been the real story, as Griffin has thrown 18 touchdown passes versus only four interceptions while posting a quarterback rating of well over 100.
Fans of the Redskins were sent into a fear-induced frenzy in Sunday's win over the Baltimore Ravens when Griffin was forced from the game with a knee injury. But that injury has been diagnosed as only a "mild" knee sprain, and there's still a chance that Griffin could take the field Sunday in a must-win game against the Cleveland Browns.
NFL fans everywhere (except maybe Cleveland) should hope that that's the case, as simply put, the playoffs are going to more fun to watch if Robert Griffin isn't watching them with us.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!