UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
More Sports

NFL Playoff Projections, Week 14

If you're a fan of a team currently on the outside of the NFL postseason, we have even more bad news for you: There's no hope inside this column. The 12 teams currently in the playoffs if the season ended today are the same 12 we project making up the postseason field in four weeks.

The six teams we consider to be legitimate contenders -- Atlanta and N.Y. Giants in the NFC; Baltimore, Miami, N.Y. Jets and Pittsburgh in the AFC -- all have serious hurdles to overcome, with little margin for error. That's not to say they can't do it, but the schedules and the circumstances seem to break better for the 12 teams in front of them.

Below, we 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 or find us on Twitter. Week 14 clinching scenarios can be found here. Without further ado...

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-0)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Atlanta (W); vs. Dallas (W); vs. Tampa Bay (W); at Carolina (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 16-0; No. 1 seedExtra Point: Why not? With Matt Ryan gimpy, the Falcons don't pose as much of a threat this week. The dome will be rocking for the Cowboys' game, and the final two weeks are as easy as it gets. Enjoy the ride, Saints fans.

***

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cincinnati (L); at Carolina (W); at Chicago (L); vs. N.Y. Giants (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 2 seedExtra Point: We think we'll see more of the Brett Favre we saw last week, thus the home loss to the Bengals. But as long as they don't completely unravel, the Vikings will be fine.

***

ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seed (wins tiebreaker with Dallas on conference record)Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at San Francisco (L); at Detroit (W); vs. St. Louis (W); vs. Green Bay (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 4 seedExtra Point: Should the Cardinals run the table, and the Vikings lose two more, Arizona would snag the No. 2 seed from Minnesota based on last week's head-to-head result.

***

DALLAS COWBOYS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seed (wins tiebreaker with Philadelphia on head-to-head)Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. San Diego (L); at New Orleans (L); at Washington (W); vs. Philadelphia (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 10-6; No. 6 seedExtra Point: The way we see it, the Cowboys and Eagles could play in back-to-back weeks -- Week 17 and then again in the wild-card round. The Eagles are familiar with that scenario, having played the Buccaneers to close out the 2001 season and then beating them in the wild-card round.

***

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 5 seed (wins tiebreaker with Packers on conference record)Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at N.Y. Giants (W); vs. San Francisco (W); vs. Denver (W); at Dallas (L)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 3 seed (win tiebreaker with Cardinals on common games -- Eagles 5-0 and Cardinals 2-3 against Panthers, Giants, Bears and Niners)Extra Point: The No. 2 seed is actually still in play for the Eagles. Should they finish 12-4 and tied with the Vikings and/or Cardinals, the Eagles would definitely have conference-record tiebreaker over the Cards and possibly over the Vikes (depending on which teams they lose to over final four weeks).

***

GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 6 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Chicago (L); at Pittsburgh (W); vs. Seattle (W); at Arizona (L)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 10-6; No. 5 seed (win tiebreaker with Cowboys on head-to-head)Extra Point: Pretty simple set-up for the Packers -- win two of final four and they're pretty much a sure thing..

***

NEW YORK GIANTS (7-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Philadelphia (L); at Washington (W); vs. Carolina (W); at Minnesota (L)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 9-7; outExtra Point: The Giants could become a serious threat by beating the Eagles on Sunday. Two very winnable games follow, and there's a good chance the Vikings will have nothing to play for in Week 17.

***

ATLANTA FALCONS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. New Orleans (L); at N.Y. Jets (L); vs. Buffalo (W); at Tampa Bay (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 8-8; outExtra Point: Like the Jets in the AFC, even if the Falcons somehow ran the table (hard to do without Matt Ryan 100 percent), they're weak in tiebreaker scenarios with no good head-to-head wins and a 7-5 conference record, at best.

.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (12-0)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Denver (W); at Jacksonville (L); vs. N.Y. Jets (W); at Buffalo (L)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 14-2; No. 1 seedExtra Point: In the era of over-thinking things (see Belichick, Bill), how about this rope-a-dope tactic: The Broncos lay down this week against the Colts, giving Indy homefield advantage. The Colts then gather their familiar end-of-the-season rust as they rest starters for the next four weeks going into the playoffs, where the Broncos (fresh off a wild-card win over, say, the Patriots) take full advantage by cruising past the sleep-walking Colts.

***

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (9-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 (wins tiebreaker with Bengals on conference record)Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Dallas (W); vs. Cincinnati (W); at Tennessee (L); vs. Washington (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 2 seed (win tiebreaker with Bengals on head-to-head)Extra Point: The battle for the No. 2 seed may be the most interesting race in the AFC. Week 15's showdown between the Chargers and Bengals looms large.

***

CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Minnesota (W); at San Diego (L); vs. Kansas City (W); at N.Y. Jets (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 3 seedExtra Point: Crazy to think neither the Ravens nor Steelers will win the AFC North. Crazier to think the Bengals will. Craziest to think the Bengals will do it in Week 14.

***

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Carolina (W); at Buffalo (W); vs. Jacksonville (W); at Houston (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 4 seedExtra Point: We kind of hope the Patriots stumble a few times in their final four games to finish 9-7, but still win the division. It'd be karmic justice after finishing 11-5 last year but missing the playoffs.

***

DENVER BRONCOS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 5Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Indianapolis (L); vs. Oakland (W); at Philadelphia (L); vs. Kansas City (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 10-6; No. 6 seedExtra Point: The path to the postseason remains simple for the Broncos -- take care of business against the Raiders and Chiefs and the rest will work itself out.

***

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (7-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 6Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Miami (W); vs. Indianapolis (W); at New England (L); at Cleveland (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 10-6; No. 5 seed (win tiebreaker with Denver on conference record)Extra Point: Jacksonville's best hope is for the Colts to win this week and Jim Caldwell to carry out his rest-now, win-later approach the rest of the way. That's the only way we see the Jaguars stealing one of their two heavyweight matchups in Weeks 15 and 16, and thus getting to 10 wins.

***

BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Detroit (W); vs. Chicago (W); at Pittsburgh (L); at Oakland (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 9-7; outExtra Point: Believe it or not, the biggest obstacle in the Ravens' running the table to snag the No. 6 seed might not be Week 16 at Heinz Field, but rather Week 17 against Oakland, where Baltimore's fellow AFC North brethren Pittsburgh and Cincinnati fell into The Black Hole.

***

MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Jacksonville (L); at Tennessee (L); vs. Houston (W); vs. Pittsburgh (L)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 7-9; outExtra Point: One positive for the Dolphins is they would own tiebreakers over the Jets and, under most scenarios, the Patriots should it come down to that in the AFC East. Hard to see it happening, though.

***

NEW YORK JETS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Tampa Bay (W); vs. Atlanta (W); at Indianapolis (L); vs. Cincinnati (L)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 8-8; outExtra Point: Despite our prediction for the Jets to get to 8-6, we don't foresee much of a chance they make it to the postseason. They are weak in tiebreakers, with no head-to-head wins with anybody they'd be tied with (Dolphins, Pats, Steelers, Ravens, Jags) and at best a 7-5 conference record, which is fairly pedestrian.

***

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Cleveland (W); vs. Green Bay (L); vs. Baltimore (W); at Miami (W)Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 9-7; outExtra Point: The thing Steelers fans have to like is the fact their team's two toughest games remaining are at Heinz Field. Last week notwithstanding, the Steelers will be tough to beat there, especially with their backs against the wall.

Close

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Bookmarks.
  3. Select Bookmark manager.
  4. Locate your current Sports Illustrated bookmark, click the Organize menu, then select Edit. You can now easily update the web address of your Sports Illustrated bookmark.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 2 easy steps:

  1. Click the Safari bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. This will open the Bookmarks Bar. In the Bookmarks Bar, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Address field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Firefox bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Show All Bookmarks.
  3. This will open the library window. In the Library window, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Location field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.
Don't Show This Again