6 NFL Teams with Best Chance at Playing Playoff Spoiler Following Week 14
With four teams (Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans) punching their tickets to the playoffs and with three other teams (New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers) who are essentially shoo-ins, there are only nine more teams who will be playing come mid-January.
With only two spots left in AFC and three spots left in the NFC, Week 15 of the NFL season will be extremely important in determining who will be in and who will be out.
Unfortunately for these playoff hopefuls, these seven teams will have a legitimate chance to break some hearts this week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Home vs. Dallas
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This season has been far from a dream season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs started out 4-2 to begin the season; they have proceeded to lose seven straight games which includes a blowout loss, 41-14, to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. The whole team has truly struggled as of late.
Despite the rough season and bad losing streak, this team still has some weapons and can still pose a threat for the Dallas Cowboys, who are coming off a really tough loss against the New York Giants.
The Cowboys, who are currently second in the NFC East to the rival Giants, will need to avoid a letdown loss against the Buccaneers in Week 15, but don't expect Bucs QB Josh Freeman and RB LeGarrette Blount to go down without a fight.
Washington Redskins on the Road vs. New York Giants
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The Washington Redskins are another team that has had a tough go of things this season after a strong start.
After going 3-1 the first four weeks of the season, the 'Skins then lost six in a row and have lost eight of their last nine games. In a season marred with injuries and quarterback troubles, the Redskins find themselves in the cellar of the NFC East once again.
Despite their season full of lows, one of the best parts of the 'Skins' season was their Week 1 victory over the New York Giants. They have showed that they can compete with the division-leading Giants, so this might not be an easy game for the G-Men.
The Giants, who have built a reputation of losing trap games, will need to take the momentum from their thrilling Week 14 win against the Cowboys back home for their Week 15 matchup against Washington.
Seattle Seahawks on the Road vs. Chicago
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After starting the season 2-5, the Seahawks have gone on a tear and have won four of their last five.
Unfortunately for them, they won't be able to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record again this season because of the emergence of the 49ers. They do have an opportunity to crush the playoff hopes of the Chicago Bears in Week 15, though.
The Bears, who have been without their starting QB Jay Cutler since Week 12 after he broke his thumb in Week 11, have lost three straight.
At 7-6, the Bears will need this game if they want any shot for a wild-card spot in the playoffs, but they will need to beat the suddenly hot Seattle Seahawks.
Detroit Lions on the Road vs. Oakland
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At 8-5 the Detroit Lions are in the middle of the playoff picture and have a great chance for the Wild Card in the NFC.
The Lions, who just narrowly escaped in Week 14 with a victory against the Minnesota Vikings, will have a tough three-game stretch with the Raiders in Week 15, Chargers in Week 16 and the undefeated Packers in Week 17.
This has been a really great season for the Lions, but they need to clamp down and get these two games against those AFC West teams. If not, their playoff hopes might be in jeopardy against the mighty Packers.
The Oakland Raiders also find themselves with a chance to make the playoffs. Just one game out of the division behind the Denver Broncos, the Raiders will also need this game to stay in it in the AFC West.
Despite the season full of ups and downs for the Raiders, they will have a chance to pull even in the division with the fighting Denver Tebows facing the New England Patriots in Week 15.
Whoever wins this game will be in good position for the playoffs and whoever loses could be out for good.
New England Patriots on the Road vs. Denver
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Through five games the Denver Broncos with Kyle Orton at quarterback were 1-4 and in the past eight games with Tim Tebow at quarterback the Broncos are 7-1.
Call it divine intervention, but the Broncos are 8-5 and at the top of the AFC West. With three games to go and a one-game lead, they are in control of their own destiny.
Their destiny, though, is crossing paths with the high-powered New England Patriots offense.
This game will be a good test for Tebow and the Broncos to determine whether they can play with the big boys of the AFC.
Although the Broncos don't need this game as much as the Raiders, they will possibly need this game to avoid a tie at the top of the division.
Philadelphia Eagles at Home vs. New York Jets
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The Philadelphia Eagles have obviously had a bad season this year considering all the hype surrounding them entering the season.
Through 13 games they have a dismal 5-8 despite all of the talent that surrounds the team.
In Week 15 they will face a New York Jets team that, at 8-5, will be fighting for the sixth and final playoff spot (with the assumption that whoever doesn't win the AFC North between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will most likely take the first wild-card spot).
With Michael Vick back in the lineup against the Miami Dolphins in Week 14 the Eagles played well in victory. If Vick plays well and if the secondary can stop the Jets offense, which has been inconsistent throughout the season, Philly could have a great shot against New York.
The Jets will need to slow down Vick and the Eagles' prolific running game if they want to be one step closer to clinching a playoff spot.