2011 NFL Playoffs logo2011 NFL Playoffs

NFL Playoff Picture: How Each Bubble Team Could Sneak into the Postseason

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIDecember 19, 2011

NFL Playoff Picture: How Each Bubble Team Could Sneak into the Postseason

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    Of the 32 teams in the NFL, ten teams have no chance of making the playoffs, seven teams have clinched playoff berths, and fifteen teams are still fighting for their 2011 lives.

    We remember that last year's Super Bowl winner was an improbable Packers squad that snuck into the playoffs with some help.

    This year, the same could happen, which is why each of these fifteen remaining teams is important.

    Without further ado, here is how each team that is left could sneak in the playoffs.

9-5 Atlanta Falcons

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    Win the Division: ATL wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@NO and vs. TB), NO loses  Week 16 and 17 (vs. ATL and vs. CAR)

     

    Win a Wild Card: ATL wins either Week 16 or Week 17 (@NO or vs. TB)

     

    Prediction: The Falcons are in the driver's seat here, and just beating the Buccaneers at home in Week 17 would clinch a playoff spot. It's likely Atlanta is in the playoffs.

9-5 Detroit Lions

3 of 16

    Win the Division: Not possible.

    Win a Wild Card: DET wins either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. SD or @GB)

    Prediction: Like Atlanta, Detroit only needs one more win to clinch a playoff berth and could do it in Week 17 if the Packers rest their starters. This one is also likely.

8-6 Dallas Cowboys

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    Win the Division: DAL wins Week 17 (@NYG) or NYG loses Week 16 (@NYJ)

    Win a Wild Card: DAL wins Week 16 (vs. PHI) and loses Week 17 (@NYG), NYG wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@NYJ and vs. DAL), ATL/DET loses Week 16 and Week 17 (@NO and vs. TB)/(vs. SD and @GB)

    Prediction: The ball is in Dallas' court. They just have to beat the Giants in Week 17 to win the NFC East. We'll see what they're made of.

8-6 Denver Broncos

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    Win the Division: DEN wins either Week 16 or Week 17 (@BUF or vs. KC) and OAK loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (@KC or vs. SD)

    Win a Wild Card: DEN wins either Week 16 or Week 17 (@BUF or vs. KC), OAK wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@KC and vs. SD), NYJ loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. NYG or @MIA) and CIN loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. ARZ or vs. BAL)

    Prediction: Pending the Raiders, it's Tebow Time in Denver. The Broncos could just win out, but that would be too simple.

8-6 New York Jets

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    Win the Division: Not possible.

    Win a Wild Card: NYJ wins Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. NYG or @ MIA), DEN wins either Week 16 or Week 17 (@BUF or vs. KC), OAK loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (@KC or vs. SD)

    Prediction: Some crazy tiebreakers come into play here, and the Jets must beat the Dolphins in Week 17 to stay ahead of Cincinnati. If the Jets win out, they're in with no help from any other team.

8-6 Cincinnati Bengals

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    Win the Division: Not possible.

    Win a Wild Card: CIN wins Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. ARZ and vs. BAL) and NYJ loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. NYG or @MIA)

    Prediction: The Bengals need a little help from the Jets, even if they do win out (including a tough road game against Baltimore, who will be fighting for a first round bye). This may not be the year in Cincinnati.

7-7 Oakland Raiders

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    Win the Division: OAK wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@KC and vs. SD) and DEN loses Week 17 (vs. KC)

    Win a Wild Card: OAK wins Week 17 (vs. SD), DEN wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@BUF and vs. KC), NYJ loses Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. NYG and @MIA), CIN loses Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. ARZ and @BAL) and TEN loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. JAX or @HOU)

    Prediction: After losing to the Lions it could be pretty tough, but the Raiders are just two wins away from serious playoff contention when tiebreakers come into effect. Winning out could get the Raiders in the playoffs without much help.

7-7 San Diego Chargers

9 of 16

    Win the Division: SD wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@DET and @OAK) and DEN loses Week 16 and Week 17 (@BUF and vs. KC)

    Win a Wild Card: SD wins Week 17 (@OAK), NYJ loses Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. NYG and @MIA), CIN loses Week 16 and Wk 17 (vs. ARZ and @BAL) and TEN loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. JAX or @HOU) OR SD wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@DET and @OAK), NYJ and CIN both lose in the same week and TEN loses either Week 16 or Week 17

    Prediction: It wouldn't be easy, but the Chargers could certainly pull it out if the Broncos choke and Philip Rivers gets hot.

7-7 Tennessee Titans

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    Win the Division: Not possible.

    Win a Wild Card: TEN wins Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. JAX and @HOU), NYJ loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. NYG or @MIA), CIN loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (vs. ARZ or vs. BAL) and SD loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (@DET or @OAK)

    Prediction: Tennessee needs to win out and make sure that every team in the hunt finishes, at best, 9-7 except San Diego. The Titans can get help if they help themselves.

7-7 New York Giants

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    Win the Division: NYG wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@NYJ and vs. DAL)

    Win a Wild Card: Not possible.

    Prediction: The Giants don't need any help if they want to get in the playoffs—they just need to start playing with a sense of urgency.

7-7 Chicago Bears

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    Win the Division: Not possible.

    Win a Wild Card: CHI wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@GB and @MIN) and DET or ATL loses Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. SD and @GB) or (@NO and vs. TB)

    Prediction: This is difficult. Either DET or ATL need to lose out and Chicago needs to beat Green Bay on the road for this to even have a chance. I'm not sure how likely this is.

7-7 Seattle Seahawks

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    Win the Division: Not possible.

    Win a Wild Card: SEA wins Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. SF and @ARZ) and DET loses Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. SD and @GB)

    Prediction: Can we assume the Lions choke? The Seahawks are really rooting against the Lions at this point, because if Seattle wins out and Detroit loses out, Pete Carroll's bunch is in the playoffs—again.

7-7 Arizona Cardinals

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    Win the Division: Not possible.

    Win a Wild Card: ARZ wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@CIN and vs. SEA), ATL or DET loses Week 16 and Wk 17 (@NO and vs. TB) or (vs. SD and @GB) and CHI loses either Week 16 or Week 17 (@GB or @MIN)

    Prediction: The Cardinals need a lot of help, but unlike Seattle, they have a tiebreaker over the Falcons. If either of the current Wild Card teams lose out, Arizona could slip in.

6-8 Kansas City Chiefs

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    Win the Division: KC wins Week 16 and Week 17 (vs. OAK and @DEN), DEN also loses Week 16 (@BUF), SD loses either Week 16 and Week 17 (@DET or @OAK)

    Win a Wild Card: Not possible.

    Prediction: The Chiefs could still take this division with games against Oakland and Denver left. Denver needs to lose to Buffalo as well, and San Diego can't finish 9-7. It's not likely, but it's possible.

6-8 Philadelphia Eagles

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    Win the Division: PHI wins Week 16 and Week 17 (@DAL and vs. WAS) and NYG loses Wk 16 (@NYJ) but wins Wk 17 (vs. DAL)

    Win a Wild Card: Not possible

    Prediction: This is just sad. I'm sorry, but come on. The worst part is that this could happen.

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