Dom Bonvissuto
Tuesday November 18th, 2008

Think it's too early for playoff projections? Think again. The postseason could get its first participants Sunday if things fall right for the Tennessee Titans and the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, the latter is the same franchise which hasn't been to the playoffs in a decade and has won exactly two playoff games in 88 years of existence.

Beginning today, SI.com will publish weekly playoff projections each Tuesday. We will lay out the playoff picture two ways: 1) As though the season ended today, and 2) As though the season will play out the way we predict it will.

We will use the NFL's official tiebreaker procedures to determine seeding. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail us here. Without further ado...

Tennessee Titans (10-0)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. NY Jets (W); at Detroit (W); vs. Cleveland (W); at Houston (L); vs. Pittsburgh (W); at Indianapolis (L) Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 14-2; No. 1 seed Extra Point: We predict Tennessee's perfection will end in a meaningless road game at Houston after the Titans already secure home-field advantage. The Titans can clinch a playoff spot Sunday if the following four things all happen: 1) Titans win; 2) Dolphins lose or tie; 3) Ravens lose or tie; 4) Steelers lose.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cincinnati (W); at New England (L); vs. Dallas (L); at Baltimore (W); at Tennessee (L); vs. Cleveland (W) Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 4 seed Extra Point: The most important game for Pittsburgh the rest of the way will be Week 15 at Baltimore; the Steelers beat the Ravens in Week 4.

New York Jets (7-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Tennessee (L); vs. Denver (L); at San Francisco (W); vs. Buffalo (W); at Seattle (W); vs. Miami (W) Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 3 seed (lose tiebreaker with Denver on head-to-head) Extra Point: After Week 12, all of the Jets' difficult games come at home.

Denver Broncos (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Oakland (W); at NY Jets (W); vs. Kansas City (W); at Carolina (L); vs. Buffalo (W); at San Diego (W) Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 2 seed (win tiebreaker with NY Jets on head-to-head) Extra Point: With a two-game cushion in the AFC West, the Broncos could wrap up the division title relatively early and shoot for a first-round bye.

Indianapolis Colts (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 5 seed (wins tiebreaker with Baltimore and Miami on conference record) Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at San Diego (W), at Cleveland (W), vs. Cincinnati (W), vs. Detroit (W), at Jacksonville (L), vs. Tennessee (W) Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 5 seed Extra Point: Back-to-back road contests the next two weekends will show whether Peyton Manning and company are indeed back.

Baltimore Ravens (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 6 (wins tiebreaker over Miami on head-to-head) Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Philadelphia (L); at Cincinnati (W); vs. Washington (W); vs. Pittsburgh (L); at Dallas (L); vs. Jacksonville (W) Final Projected Record: 9-7; Out Extra Point: Three games remaining against NFC East teams spell trouble.

Miami Dolphins (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. New England (W), at St. Louis (W), at Buffalo (L), vs. San Francisco (W), at Kansas City (W), at NY Jets (L) Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 6 seed (win tiebreaker with New England on head-to-head) Extra Point: If the Dolphins hold serve against the three losing teams remaining on their schedule, they'll set themselves up nicely for an improbable trip to the playoffs.

New England Patriots (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Miami (L); vs. Pittsburgh (W); at Seattle (W); at Oakland (W); vs. Arizona (W); at Buffalo (L) Final Projected Record: 10-6; Out Extra Point: Huge game Sunday against the Dolphins, who already beat the Pats once this season. Tiebreaker scenarios do not favor New England if the projected results play out.

Buffalo Bills (5-5) If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Kansas City (W), vs. San Francisco (W), vs. Miami (W), at NY Jets (L), at Denver (L), vs. New England (W) Final Projected Record: 9-7; out Extra Point: Losers in five of last six and sitting in last in the AFC East, it's difficult to see Buffalo making a serious run at the playoffs.

San Diego Chargers (4-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Indianapolis (L), vs. Atlanta (W), vs. Oakland (W), at Kansas City (W), at Tampa Bay (W), vs. Denver (L) Final Projected Record: 8-8; out Extra Point: San Diego dug itself too deep a hole early, so even a strong final six games won't be enough to make the playoffs -- but will it be enough to save Norv Turner's job?

New York Giants (9-1)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 1 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Arizona (W), at Washington (L), vs. Philadelphia (W), at Dallas (L), vs. Carolina (W), at Minnesota (L) Final Projected Record: 12-4; No. 1 seed Extra Point: The defending champs could be fairly beat up going into the playoffs -- they do not face a team with a losing record the rest of the way.

Carolina Panthers (8-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 2 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Atlanta (L), at Green Bay (L), vs. Tampa Bay (W), vs. Denver (W), at NY Giants (L), at New Orleans (L) Final Projected Record: 10-6; Out (lose tiebreaker with New Orleans on division record) Extra Point: The Panthers' recent play doesn't inspire much confidence, and simply winning their final two home games likely won't be enough.

Arizona Cardinals (7-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 3 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. NY Giants (L), at Philadelphia (W), vs. St. Louis (W), vs. Minnesota (W), at New England (L), vs. Seattle (W) Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 2 seed Extra Point: Arizona can clinch the NFC West title Sunday if these three things all happen: 1) Cardinals win; 2) Niners lose; 3) Seahawks lose or tie.

Green Bay Packers (5-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 4 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at New Orleans (W), vs. Carolina (W), vs. Houston (W), at Jacksonville (W), at Chicago (L), vs. Detroit (W) Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 3 seed (win tiebreaker with New Orleans on head-to-head) Extra Point: A very favorable schedule, facing only one team with a winning record the rest of the way, combined with the mediocrity of the NFC North should equal a return trip to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 5 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Detroit (W), vs. New Orleans (L), at Carolina (L), at Atlanta (L), vs. San Diego (L), vs. Oakland (W) Final Projected Record: 9-7; out Extra Point: Home games against potent offenses in New Orleans and San Diego will be tough tests for the Bucs D. The loss of Earnest Graham (ankle) for the season will be too difficult to overcome.

Washington Redskins (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 6 seed Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Seattle (W), vs. NY Giants (W), at Baltimore (L), at Cincinnati (W), vs. Philadelphia (W), at San Francisco (W) Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 5 seed (win tiebreaker with Dallas on division record) Extra Point: Four road games in the final six appears to be a tall task, but not when three are against losing teams.

Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. San Francisco (W), vs. Seattle (W), at Pittsburgh (W), vs. NY Giants (W), vs. Baltimore (W), at Philadelphia (L) Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 6 seed (lose tiebreaker with Washington on division record) Extra Point: Two-straight home games against NFC West patsies means the Cowboys should be 8-4 and have momentum and confidence heading into a brutal four-game stretch to end the season.

Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Carolina (W), at San Diego (L), at New Orleans (L), vs. Tampa Bay (W), at Minnesota (L), vs. St. Louis (W) Final Projected Record: 9-7; Out Extra Point: Atlanta has been great at home, but it will need to pull off a road upset to have a shot at the wild card.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-1)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Baltimore (W), vs. Arizona (L), at NY Giants (L), vs. Cleveland (L), at Washington (L), vs. Cowboys (W) Final Projected Record: 7-8-1; Out Extra Point: A tough team to figure out and in a deep division like the NFC East, Philadelphia's inconsistency is too much to overcome.

Chicago Bears (5-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at St. Louis (W), at Minnesota (L), vs. Jacksonville (W), vs. New Orleans (L), vs. Green Bay (W), at Houston (W) Final Projected Record: 9-7; Out Extra Point: The NFC North title could come down to a Week 16 game against Green Bay, but Chicago will have to take care of business beforehand to make it matter.

Minnesota Vikings (5-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Jacksonville (L), vs. Chicago (W), at Detroit (W), at Arizona (L), vs. Atlanta (W), vs. NY Giants (W) Final Projected Record: 9-7; Out Extra Point: The Vikings could benefit from a Week 17 game against the Giants, who may be in rest-and-recuperate mode.

New Orleans Saints (5-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Green Bay (L), at Tampa Bay (W), vs. Atlanta (W), at Chicago (W), at Detroit (W), vs. Carolina (W) Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 4 seed (win tiebreaker with Carolina on division record) Extra Point: We like the Saints getting on a roll at the end of the season, but that could change if they end up losing players to suspension for using the weight-loss diuretic.

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