NFL Week 17 Playoff Picture: Every Team's Best-Case, Worst-Case Scenario

John SmithCorrespondent IIDecember 28, 2010

NFL Week 17 Playoff Picture: Every Teams Best-Case, Worst-Case Scenario

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    Here it is—finally—week 17 of the NFL season has come. With nine of the 12 spots already clinched, three playoff spots will be decided in the final week.

    But only two teams, the New England Patriots (AFC number one seed) and the Philadelphia Eagles (NFC third seed), know what seed they are getting. The rest of the seeds in both leagues are up for grabs.

    Teams that have clinched:

    AFC: New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets

    NFC: Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints 

    Currently in the Playoffs, but could miss it:

    AFC: Indianapolis Colts

    NFC: Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks

    Could Steal a Playoff Spot:

    AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars

    NFC: New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams

     

    First, the easy to digest, AFC playoff picture.

1. New England Patriots (13-2)—Clinched AFC East and Number One Seed in AFC

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    The Patriots simply have no best-case, worst case scenario. With their victory over the Bills in week 16 the Patriots have locked up the number one seed in the AFC playoffs and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Behind the arm of Tom Brady and the brains of Bill Belichick this team has cruised to a 13-2 start.

    Arguably one of most impressive teams in the NFL season so far, the Super Bowl on the AFC side will go through Foxboro, Massachusetts.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)

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    Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (5-10)

    Best Case: 12-4, 2nd Seed, AFC North Champions; 77 percent

    How to get there: Beat Cleveland, or have Baltimore lose to Cincinnati

    Bad Case: 11-5, 5th Seed, Wild Card; 3 percent

    How to miss a first-round bye: Lose to Cleveland, Ravens beat Bengals, and Bills beat Jets.

    Worst Case: 11-5, 6th Seed, Wild Card; 20 percent

    How to miss a first-round bye: Lose to Cleveland, Ravens beat Bengals, and Jets beat Bills.

    What will happen?

    Even though the game is on the road, the Steelers will prove to be to tough for the Dawg Pound. They will defeat the Cleveland Browns and lock up the second seed in the playoffs. Securing themselves a first-round bye. 

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)—Clinched AFC West

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    Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders (5-10)

    Best Case: 11-5, 3rd Seed, AFC West Champions; 79 percent

    How to get there: Beat Oakland or have Indianapolis lose to Tennessee.

    Worst Case: 10-6, 4th Seed, AFC West Champions; 21 percent

    How to miss out on the third seed: Lose to Oakland and have Indianapolis beat Tennessee.

    What will happen?

    The Chiefs, although losing to the Raiders on the road earlier in the year, will play with a sense of urgency and beat Oakland this time and lock up the third seed. Regardless of any outcome, they will play against either the Steelers, Ravens, or Jets at home in the Wild Card round of the playoffs

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

4. Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

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    Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans (6-9)

    Best Case: 10-6, 3rd Seed, AFC South Champions; 21 percent

    How to get here: Beat Tennessee and have Oakland beat Kansas City 

    Good Case: 9-7, 4th Seed, AFC South Champions; 65 percent

    How to sneak into the playoffs: Beat Tennessee, but the Chiefs beat the Raiders; or have the Texans beat the Jaguars.

    Worst Case: 8-6, Out of Playoffs; 14 percent

    How to sit on the couch during January: Lose to Titans, and Jaguars beat the Texans.

    What will happen?

    Although they will beat the Texans on the road, Peyton Manning will lead the Colts to a victory over the Titans and knock the Jaguars out of the playoffs.  

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

    

5. Baltimore Ravens (11-4)

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    Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11)

    Best Case: 12-4, 2nd Seed, AFC North Champions; 23 percent

    How to get there: Beat Cincinnati, and have Pittsburgh lose to Cleveland 

    Worst Case: 11-5, 5th Seed, Wild Card; 77 percent

    How to miss out on a first-round bye: Lose to Cincinnati, or have Pittsburgh beat Cleveland

    What will happen?

    Although the Ravens will beat the Bengals, the Steelers will also beat the Browns. This will force the Ravens to miss a first-round bye, and they will be forced to play on the road for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs.  

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

6. New York Jets (10-5)

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    New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills (5-10)

    Best Case: 11-5, 5th Seed, Wild Card; 20 percent

    How to get there: Beat Buffalo, Cleveland beats Pittsburgh, and Baltimore beats Cincinnati

    Worst Case: 10-6, 6th Seed, Wild Card; 80 percent

    How to get here: Either lose to Buffalo, Pittsburgh beats Cleveland, or Cincinnati beats Baltimore

    What will happen?

    They will beat the Bills and Pittsburgh will beat Cleveland, so they will end up with the sixth seed in the playoffs.

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

Outside Looking In: Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7)

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    Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (5-10)

    Best Case: 9-7, Number 4 seed, AFC South Champions; 14 percent

    How to get into the playoffs: Beat Houston, and Indianapolis losses to Tennessee

    Worst Case: 8-6, Out of Playoffs; 86 percent

    How to sit on the couch during January: Lose to Houston, or Indianapolis win against Tennessee.

    What will happen?

    Although they will beat the Texans on the road, Peyton Manning will lead the Colts to a victory over the Titans and knock the Jaguars out of the playoffs.  

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

NFC Playoff Picture

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    Now this is where it gets interesting. Even though five of the playoff spots are clinched, the Philadelphia Eagles are the only team that knows what seed they are getting, the third seed. Other than that, it is up for grabs.

    The Atlanta Falcons seem to be the favorites for the one seed only needing a win against 2-13 Carolina to clinch the number one seed.

    Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears have both clinched their respected division, and with the Eagles embarrassing loss to the Eagles, the Bears have clinched a first-round bye. The Eagles clinched the number three seed.

    The tough (to watch) NFC West race will come down to the matchup between the 6-9 Seattle Seahawks and the 7-8 St. Louis Rams, a game flexed by NBC to 8:20 because it is the only game where a definite playoff spot will be decided.

    With that being said, here are the best-case, worst-case scenarios for the NFC teams in playoff contention.

1. Atlanta Falcons (12-3)

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    Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers (2-13)

    Best Case: 13-3, 1st Seed, NFC South Champion; 95 percent

    How to get there: Beat the 2-13 Carolina Panthers; Could even clinch the number one seed with a Saints loss to the Buccaneers, and Bears loss to the Packers, but they don't want to lose to the Panthers.

    Bad Case: 12-4, 2nd Seed, NFC South Champion; 1 percent

    How to lose out on home-field advantage: Lose to Carolina, Buccaneers lose to the Saints, and the Bears beat the Packers.

    Worst Case: 12-4, 5th Seed, Wild Card; 4 percent

    How to get here: Die, completely fall apart and lose to the Carolina Panthers, also have the Saints beat the Buccaneers.

    What will happen?

    The Falcons will beat the Panthers and get the number one seed. This statement is going to be about as interesting as this game.

    For why the Falcons-Saints Monday Night game meant nothing, read here.

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

2. Chicago Bears (11-4)—Clinched NFC North and First Round Bye

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    Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (9-6)

    Best Case: 12-4, 1st Seed, NFC North Champion; 1 percent

    How to get there: Beat Green Bay, Atlanta loses to Carolina, and New Orleans loses to Tampa Bay

    Worst Case : 11-5, 2nd Seed, NFC North Champion; 99 percent

    How to miss home-field advantage: Either lose to the Packers, Falcons beat the Panthers, or the Saints beat the Buccaneers. Either way, that's a pretty good worst case.

    What will happen?

    They will lose to the Packers, but will still end up with the number two seed and a first-round bye.

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

3. Philadelphia Eagles (11-4)—Clinched NFC East and Number 3 Seed

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    Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys (5-10)

    There is no best-case, worst case here. The embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Vikings means that they will end with the number three seed. The Eagles will not have a first-round bye and they will host the sixth seed at home in the Wild Card round.

    They will play either the Packers, Giants, or Buccaneers in Philadelphia to open the playoffs.

4. INSERT NFC West Champion

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    St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (6-9)

    These teams will meet in week 17 to prove who is the best of the NFC Worst. This will be a team without a winning record, yet they will be hosting a playoff game against a team with 4-5 more wins than them

    Best Case: Neither of these teams make the playoffs

    Worst Case: One of these teams makes the playoffs and hosts an 11-12 win team.

    What Will Happen? This isn't even worth talking about.

5. New Orleans Saints (11-4)

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)

    Best Case: 12-4, 1st Seed, NFC South Champions; 4 percent

    How to clinch first-round bye: Beat Tampa Bay, and have Carolina beat Atlanta

    Worst Case: 11-5, 5th Seed, Wild Card; 96 percent

    How to play in the Wild Card round: Either have the Falcons beat the Panthers, or lose to the Buccaneers.

    What will happen?

    Although the Saints will beat the Buccaneers, the Falcons will lock up home-field advantage and the NFC South with a victory over the Panthers. This will cause the Saints to get the fifth seed and they will be forced to defend the Super Bowl on the road.

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

6. Green Bay Packers (9-6)

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    Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears (11-4)

    Best Case: 10-6, 6th Seed, Wild Card;  66 percent

    How to clinch first-round bye: Beat Chicago; or losses by the Giants and Buccaneers (they would not need a win in this case).

    Worst Case: 9-7, Out of Playoffs; 34 percent

    How to sit at home in January: Lose to the Bears, and have either the Buccaneers (Saints) or Giants (Redskins) win.

    What will happen?

    The Packers will take care of the Bears and they will get the sixth seed and they will be forced to play in Philadelphia to start the playoffs.

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

Outside Lookin In: New York Giants (9-6)

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    New York Giants at Washington Redskins (6-9) 

    Best Case: 10-6, 6th Seed, Wild Card; 28 percent

    How to back into the playoffs: Beat the Redskins and have the Bears beat the Packers

    Worst Case: 9-7, Out of Playoffs; 72 percent

    How to miss out on the playoffs: A loss to the Redskins, or a Packers win over the Bears.

    What will happen?

    The Giants will beat the Redskins, but the Packers will win causing the Packers to get the sixth and final playoff spot and will leave the Giants on the outside looking in.

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

Outside Looking In: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)

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    Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (11-4)

    Best Case: 10-6, 6th Seed, Wild Card; 7 percent

    How to make the playoffs: Beat New Orleans, and have the Bears beat the Packers and the Redskins beat the Giants.

    Worst Case: 9-7, Out of playoffs; 93 percent

    How to miss the playoffs: Lose to New Orleans, or have either the Packers or Giants win

    What will happen?

    The Packers will beat the Bears, so even if the Bucs beat the Saints, they would still not make the playoffs.

     

    Playoff Odds used throughout this piece via Playoff Status

Projected Final Standings

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    Time to celebrate and cheer. It is time for some NFL playoffs. Here are my projected standings for both the NFC and AFC.

    AFC Final Standings

    1. New England Patriots (14-2)

    2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

    3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

    4. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

    5. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)

    6. New York Jets (11-5)

    Just Missed: Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)

     

    NFC Final Standings

    1. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

    2. Chicago Bears (11-5); Have tiebreaker over Eagles for regular season victory over Philadelphia

    3. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

    4. Seattle/ St. Louis, an embarrassment to the NFL playoffs.

    5. New Orleans Saints (12-4)

    6. Green Bay Packers (10-6)

    Just Missed: New York Giants (10-6) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)

     

    Now, what will happen in the playoffs? Yes, that's right, I'm talking about playoffs.

NFL Playoff Picks

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    No over-analyzing here, just plain and simple picks. You are entitled to your own opinion, just like I am to mine.

    Wild Card Round:

    AFC: #3 Kansas City Chiefs over #6 New York Jets; #5 Baltimore Ravens over #4 Indianapolis Colts

    NFC: #3 Philadelphia Eagles over #6 Green Bay Packers ; #5 New Orleans Saints over #4 NFC West Team

     

    Divisional Round:

    AFC: #1 New England Patriots over #5 Ravens; # 3 Chiefs at #2 Pittsburgh Steelers

    NFC: #1 Atlanta Falcons over #5 Saints; #3 Eagles over #2 Chicago Bears

     

    Championship Round

    AFC: #2 Steelers over #1 Patriots

    NFC: #1 Falcons over #3 Eagles

     

    Super Bowl:

    Pittsburgh Steelers vs Atlanta Falcons in a rematch of their first game of the season, but this time the results will be different. Matt Ryan will bring the city of Atlanta its second championship in any sport.

    Call me a homer, but I don't care. I am a fan that has faith in his team to do special things. But let me know what you think, I know you have your opinions, and you have that right, just like I do.

     

    Who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Big D?

    Let the Debate Begin.