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If the Playoffs Started Today – NFL Week 16

Colts vs Saints: Week 16's prediction for the Super Bowl

With just one week left before the playoffs are set, this is the final installment of the NFL’s weekly playoff hypotheticals. Plenty of surprises have taken place this past week (New Orleans and Indy BOTH lose on home turf?) and many are yet to take place (seven, count ‘em, seven) teams are still alive for the two AFC wildcards. Twenty-four scenarios are yet possible for those seven teams to clinch a playoff spot in Week 17. So for the final time this season, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 29:

NFC:

#1 New Orleans Saints

They start 13-0, then go 13-2, with their last two games at home. And the second home loss was to the miserable Buccaneers. In overtime. After missing a 37 yard easy field goal with five seconds left in regulation. The Saints are still reeling. They’re in real danger of losing in the playoffs after so many close games, particularly if they meet up with the surging Eagles.

#2 Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have won six in a row to take a bye away from the Vikings, who have become a dysfunctional Springer family as of late with the whole Favre/Childress thing. The Eagles visits Dallas to finish the season, and can wrap up the bye by taking out their arch rivals, who can actually usurp the division with a win of their own.

#3 Minnesota Vikings vs. #6 Dallas Cowboys

The Vikings, in a see-saw battle, lost in overtime in Chicago. Favre’s cold weather and December swoons continue. The Vikings went from challenging the Saints for home field advantage to trying to hold off the Cardinals for the #3 spot (which the Cardinals will take with a win and a Vikings loss).The Cowboys blanked the Redskins 17-0 in Washington, and the week before upended the Saints in New Orleans. This is Dallas’ chance to strike with a vengeance at the brackets.

#4 Arizona Cardinals vs. #5 Green Bay Packers

Arizona blew out St. Louis 31-10 at home, while Green Bay blew out Seattle at home 48-10. This is one of the games in Week 17, meaning the Packers could have a better record than Arizona but still be the visitor. This is one of those games where both teams have their strengths, and both teams have a legitimate shot at winning.

AFC:

#1 Indianapolis Colts

Manning and other starters came out in the middle of the 3rd quarter. The Jets managed to take advantage, including two successful two point conversions, to win 29-15 in Indianapolis. If past seasons are any indication, Indianapolis’ resting their starters will cost them, especially if the Chargers come to town.

#2 San Diego Chargers

The Chargers have won 10 straight after marching into Tennessee and dominating. They’ll be 13-3 after hosting Washington, no problem. After that, they’ll probably host New England (easy enough, with the Pats’ road issues), and then face off against the Colts to get to the Super Bowl. It’s looking good for San Diego right now.

#3 New England Patriots vs. #6 New York Jets

The home team won each game this season, (16-9 in New York and 31-14 in New England). With their perfect home record this season, and Randy Moss looking like his old self, the Patriots should breeze through the Jets easily.

#4 Cincinnati Bengals vs. #5 Denver Broncos

Denver won 12-7 on the road in Week 1 in this match-up. Denver has lost three straight, while the Bengals have clinched just their second playoff berth in 19 years. Denver certainly hasn’t looked like the team that started 6-0, going 2-7 since then, and Cincinnati is rolling off their 17-10, emotional win over Kansas City.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • One of the Wildcard scenarios is Pittsburgh getting in with a win (@ Miami) along with both the Texans and Jets losing or tying. The Patriots are streaking and should give the Texans problems, while the Jets may be too excited over their win over Indianapolis, leaving Pittsburgh to join Baltimore (@ Oakland).

Season Notes:

  • For two years in a row, the #1 seeds from both conferences in the previous year will miss the playoffs entirely. It was the 2007-2008 Patriots and Cowboys missing the playoffs in 2009, and the 2008-2009 Titans and Giants missing the playoffs in 2010.
  • For two years in a row, the last unbeaten team was beaten at home by the New York Jets. It was the 2008-2009 Titans in Week 12, and the 2009-2010 Colts in Week 16.

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