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NFL Playoff Projections, Week 17

It comes down to this. Seven teams have clinched. Eleven more are fighting for the five remaining spots. The 14 others have a head start on draft preparations.

We won't waste any more of your time. We've ... done ... enough ... of ... that. Below you'll find three things: 1) How the playoffs would look if they started today; 2) How the playoffs will look if our projections pan out; and 3) How all* of the potential results will affect things.

*We've never been a big fan of ties. Probably because we wore them every day for four years while attending a private high school. Regardless, we do not take into account ties in our scenarios because, quite frankly, they make our head hurt and we don't want the same to happen to you. But if you really, really want to know how Week 17 ties would affect things, click here.

(We use the NFL's official tiebreaker procedures to determine seeding. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail us.)

Tennessee Titans (13-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; Clinched No. 1 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Indianapolis (L)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 13-3; No. 1 seed.Extra Point: Final game against Colts does not matter for either team. Good news for all those Titans fans who got Vince Young jerseys for Christmas last year: You can wear them in honor of this week's starter in a meaningless game against the Colts.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; Clinched No. 2 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cleveland (W).Final Projected Record: 12-4; No. 2 seed.Extra Point: Meaningless game against the Browns to finish the season. Rest and recuperate time for the Steelers.

Miami Dolphins (10-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seed (wins tiebreaker with New England on conference record).Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at NY Jets (W).Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 3 seed (wins tiebreaker with New England on conference record).Extra Point: Pretty simple for the Fish Mammals: Win and they're in; lose and they're out. That's it. Chad Pennington returns to New York to try and put the cherry on top one of the most amazing one-season turnarounds in NFL history.

Denver Broncos (8-7)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at San Diego (W).Final Projected Record: 9-7; No. 4 seed.Extra Point: Another simple one: Broncos win, they're in; lose and they're out. Yes, this is the same Broncos team we originally projected would be the AFC's No. 2 seed. Glad you remembered. But we really do see them going into San Diego and saving their hides. Honest.

Indianapolis Colts (11-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; Clinched No. 5 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Tennessee (W).Final Projected Record: 12-4; No. 5 seed.Extra Point: This makes it two straight seasons the Colts and Titans play a meaningless Week 17 game. We like the NFL trying to create some final-week drama, but it's accidentally watering down what should be an intense rivalry.

Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 6.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Jacksonville (W).Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 6 seed (win tiebreaker with New England on conference record).Extra Point: Win and the Ravens are in. Lose and they'd need the Pats to lose to the Bills to still make it. After seeing the Ravens go on the road to beat a hungry Cowboys team, it's hard to imagine them laying an egg at home against a Jaguars team going through the motions.

New England Patriots (10-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Buffalo (W).Final Projected Record: 11-5; out.Extra Point: The Pats can either win the AFC East, be the No. 6 seed or completely miss the playoffs. To make it, first and foremost, the Pats need to beat the Bills. If they do that, they'd need the Jets to beat the Dolphins in order to win the division title. New England can also make it as the final wild-card team if they win and the Ravens lose to the Jags.

New York Jets (9-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Miami (L).Final Projected Record: 9-7; out.Extra Point: Like their friends the Patriots, the Jets can either win the division, be the No. 6 seed or go home. To win the AFC East, the Jets need to beat the Dolphins and have the Pats lose to the Bills. To go as a wild card, the Jets need to win, have the Pats win and have the Ravens lose to the Jags.

San Diego Chargers (7-8)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Denver (L).Final Projected Record: 7-9; out.Extra Point: The Chargers were once thought to be so out of it that they didn't even make our Week 15 projections. But San Diego can indeed win the division by beating the Broncos and taking the West on the division record tiebreaker.

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New York Giants (12-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; Clinched No. 1 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Minnesota (L)Final Projected Record: 12-4; No. 1 seed (win tiebreaker with Carolina on head-to-head).Extra Point: The defending champs will find a little R&R underneath their Christmas tree, with a meaningless game against the Vikings followed by a bye over the next two weekends.

Carolina Panthers (11-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at New Orleans (W).Final Projected Record: 12-4; No. 2 seed.Extra Point: The Panthers have already clinched a playoff berth, but they'll need to beat the Saints to shore up the NFC South and a first-round bye. If they lose and the Falcons win, the Panthers will be relegated to wild-card status. With Drew Brees gunning for Dan Marino's passing record, Carolina won't just be able to coast on Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings (9-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. NY Giants (W).Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 3 seed.Extra Point: The Vikings, who can take advantage of a resting Giants team, can clinch the No. 3 seed with a win. They can also secure the No. 3 seed with a Bears' loss to the Texans. They could also end up as a No. 6, but it involves their finale against the Giants ending in a tie ... and you know how we feel about those.

Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; Clinched No. 4 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Seattle (W).Final Projected Record: 9-7; No. 4 seed.Extra Point: The Cardinals are locked into the No. 4 seed, regardless of a win or a loss against the Seahawks. But if any team is desperate for a win, if only for momentum purposes, it's Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons (10-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 5 seed.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. St. Louis (W).Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 5 seed.Extra Point: The Falcons have already clinched a spot; they just don't know which one. A win over the Rams and a Panthers loss, and Atlanta wins the NFC South and goes as the No. 2 seed. They get No. 5 if they win and the Panthers win; or if they lose and the Cowboys lose. They get No. 6 if they lose and the Cowboys win. Got it? Good.

Dallas Cowboys (9-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 6 seed (win tiebreaker with Tampa Bay on head-to-head).Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Philadelphia (W).Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 6 seed (win tiebreaker with Tampa Bay on head-to-head).Extra Point: Win and the Cowboys are in. Period. Either as the No. 6 if the Falcons win, or as the No. 5 if the Falcons lose. Lose and the Cowboys are out. Period. Hard to imagine a postseason without the Cowboys, but don't expect the Eagles (who have a lot to play for in their own right) to roll out the welcome mat.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Oakland (W).Final Projected Record: 10-6; out.Extra Point: Another simple one: The Bucs go to the playoffs as the No. 6 seed if they win and the Cowboys lose. Anything else and they're out.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-6-1)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cowboys (L).Final Projected Record: 8-7-1; out.Extra Point: The Eagles have a sliver of hope. They first need to beat the Cowboys. They also need the Bucs to lose to the Raiders. If those two things happen, they also need either the Vikings to lose or the Bears to lose. If all that happens, the Eagles would be the No. 6. Also, if all that happens, we'll type next week's projections with our nose.

Chicago Bears (9-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Houston (L).Final Projected Record: 9-7; out.Extra Point: If the Bears make the playoffs, it will be as the No. 3 or the No. 6. To be No. 3, the Bears need to beat the Texans and have the Vikings lose. To be the No. 6, the Bears need to win and have both the Cowboys and Bucs lose. Any other scenario and the Bears are out.

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