NFL Playoff Picture: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

Dec 20, 2010

Week 15 in the NFL saw a slew of fantastic games, highlighted by the Eagles stealing a win from under the Giants’ noses in the dying seconds. Other notable results included the Jets edging the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Colts defeating Jacksonville in Indianapolis and the Patriots outlasting the Packers on Sunday Night Football. With so many games with playoff implications, it may just have been the best day of football all year.

Ultimately, only three teams were eliminated from playoff contention yesterday. The Texans, Cardinals and Dolphins all lost and were all eliminated. They join the Browns, Bills, Broncos, Bengals, Vikings, Redskins, Cowboys, Lions and Panthers as the team’s on the outside.

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No divisions have been clinched yet, although the Bears can be the first team to do so if they win on Monday Night Football tonight.

Remarkably, the 5-9 San Fransico 49ers remain in playoff contention. They could even win their division. That shows you just how bad the NFC West has been this year.

If the season ended today, the playoffs would look like this:

First-Round Byes: #1 Atlanta Falcons (NFC South Champ, best overall record), #2 Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East Champ)

#6 New York Giants (Wild Card) at #3 Chicago Bears (NFC North Champ)
#5 New Orleans Saints (Wild Card) at #4 St. Louis Rams (NFC West Champ)

First-Round Byes: #1 New England Patriots (AFC East Champ), #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North Champ)

#6 New York Jets (Wild Card) at #3 Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West Champ)
#5 Baltimore Ravens (Wild Card) at #4 Indianapolis Colts (AFC South Champ)

If the season ended today, the Panthers would have the first overall pick. Carolina actually won yesterday, but so did the Bengals. Unless Carolina somehow wins one of its remaining two games, the Panthers will get first crack at drafting quarterback Andrew Luck this spring.



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