NFL Playoff Scenarios: 10 Big Questions After Week 14's Games
NFL playoff scenarios are always changing. Whether it's a concussion, suspension or a losing streak, teams can bounce off the bubble in what seems like a matter of seconds.
We're 14 weeks deep into the 2010 season, and while the playoff picture is starting to present itself, there are still many questions to be asked.
Here are the 10 biggest questions for the remainder of the season.
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10. Will The Atlanta Falcons Earn Home Field Through The Playoffs?
Atlanta is one of three teams to have an undefeated home record this season. Matt Ryan has only lost one home game in 20 career starts.
The Falcons have a game on the Saints who they play in Week 16—at home. Their other two games are against the Seahawks and Panthers.
Expect Matt Ryan and company to finish the season on a high note, earning a bye and home field through the playoffs.
9. Will The NFC West Winner Have a Winning Record?
Does anybody want to represent the NFC West in the playoffs?
It doesn't look like it with Seattle and St. Louis both losing this week, dropping their records to 6-7—one win higher than the Niners and two above the Cardinals.
The Rams have a decent chance of finishing 8-8 with KC, SF and Seattle on the remaining schedule. I doubt Seattle will beat Atlanta or Tampa in Tampa.
8. Does Miami Have A Shot At Making The Playoffs?
Through 14 weeks most teams that are 6-1 on the road should be locks to make the playoffs. If only the Dolphins weren't a head-scratching 1-5 at home.
The Phins will have to take down the daunting Lions and Bills at home in the next two weeks to stay alive but get a breath of fresh air again when they hit the road to play the Pats in Week 17, another Miami upset special.
At 10-6 Miami isn't a lock, but it will give them a shot.
7. Can The Chargers Swipe The AFC West From KC?
After putting a 31-0 beat-down on Kansas City, the Chargers have the momentum down the stretch. But because of their Week 13 loss to Oakland, San Diego doesn't control their destiny.
Few schedules look easier than SF, Cincinnati and Denver which gives SD a great shot at finishing 10-6.
Ten wins may not be enough for an AFC Wild Card berth, though, and the Chargers have become the biggest fans of KC's opponents.
If KC can go into St. Louis and win next week, it doesn't look good for the Chargers because the Chiefs finish against Tennessee and Oakland at home, where they are undefeated.
That being said, without Matt Cassel the Chiefs looked lost. Dwayne Bowe has one catch for three yards in the past two weeks. Maybe the Chiefs peaked too soon.
Running the ball used to win in December, but in today's NFC, if you can't move the ball through the air, don't expect to win.
6. Is Tampa Bay For Real?
The number of teams with a winning record the Bucs have beat through Week 15.
The number of losses Tampa has to winning teams.
The number of losing teams TB plays in their last three games.
The Bucs are good at beating who they should. They aren't a real contender, but at 10-6 they will be in great position to make the playoffs in the NFC.
5. Can Jacksonville Finish The Season Out?
Many have already crowned the Indianapolis Colts the AFC South champs, but the Jags hold a one-game lead on Indy. It looks like the season will all come down to next week when the two teams meet up.
Jacksonville beat Peyton Manning and the Colts 31-28 early in the season, but the Jags don't have any power road wins heading into Indy.
Jax then hosts the better-than-advertised Washington Redskins and finishes the season against Houston, which will be looking to avenge a last-second loss in Week 11.
The Jags might be looking at 8-8 before they know it.
4. Is The NFL Sleeping On The Giants?
The attention in the NFC East is on Michael Vick and the terrible Dallas Cowboys. What about the only team to win a Super Bowl from the division in the last decade?
The Giants are a quiet 9-4. Their receivers are getting healthy, the running game is bullish and their defense is one of the NFL's five best.
A home win over Philly could give them the NFC East, but even if they can't beat Philly, expect them to finish the season 11-5, ready to make noise in the playoffs.
3. Will The Jets Rebound In Time For The Playoffs?
Coming off the NE beat-down and now a hangover loss to Miami, the Jets are looking at road games against Pittsburgh and Chicago before finishing the year against Buffalo.
The Jets could easily be 9-6 heading into Week 17 and are in a must-win situation that will have them facing a tiebreaker.
If the Jets do make the playoffs, they will be filling the underdog role they are more comfortable with, but it isn't the mindset Rex Ryan wanted his team to have entering the season.
2. Can Green Bay Make The Playoffs With Or Without Aaron Rodgers?
Green Bay needed a win against the Lions to solidify its playoff status heading into the toughest three-game stretch of any team to finish out the year.
Even with Aaron Rodgers the Packers would feel grateful to go 2-1 against NE, NYG and Chicago. Without him, winning just one of those games would be monumental.
No team has had tougher losses than Green Bay this year, but their biggest loss would be if Rodgers can't return.
1. Will Peyton Manning Win-Out?
We're in the two-minute drill of the season and Peyton Manning needs to win three straight to take his Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs.
We know he can do it, but with everybody gunning for last year's AFC representatives in the Super Bowl, will he do it?
Tune in Sunday and see.