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NFL playoff projections, Week 13

For the first time in NFL history, all eight divisions have at least two teams in first place, or within one game of first, through 12 weeks. Whether it's the result of true parity or pure luck, the unprecedented tightness of the standings will make the end of the regular season that much more exciting and the college bowl system look that much more meaningless.

It will also make our job that much harder.

Beginning today, SI.com will publish weekly playoff projections. 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 or find us on Twitter. Without further ado...

NEW YORK JETS (9-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at New England (L); vs. Miami (W); at Pittsburgh (W); at Chicago (L); vs. Buffalo (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 5 seedExtra Point: The Jets are 5-0 on the road right now, and to earn the No. 1 seed they'd likely have to go at least 2-1 through a very difficult Foxboro-Pittsburgh-Chicago gauntlet over the next four weeks (with Miami at home as well). If they get home-field advantage, you won't be able to say they didn't earn it.

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BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Pittsburgh (W); at Houston (W); vs. New Orleans (L); at Cleveland (W); vs. Cincinnati (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 2 seedExtra Point: We project 11 wins will get a playoff spot in the AFC, so Ravens fans can breathe easy with three very winnable games left. Get one more against either the Steelers or Saints, and the Ravens can call themselves division champs for the first time since 2006.

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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Denver (W); at San Diego (L); at St. Louis (W); vs. Tennessee (W); vs. Oakland (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 6 seedExtra Point: Can the previously considered weak West really get two teams into the postseason? Believe it. If the Chiefs can take care of business at Arrowhead, a notoriously tough place to play late in the season (K.C. is 37-13 in December since 1983), and go 1-1 against San Diego and St. Louis, they're in.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Tennessee (L); vs. Oakland (W); at Indianapolis (L); vs. Washington (W); at Houston (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 8-8; outExtra Point: Inconsistency reigns in the AFC South, where no team seems capable of taking charge. Don't expect it to be the Jags, who have all three division road games still to go.

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 5 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. N.Y. Jets (W); at Chicago (W); vs. Green Bay (L); at Buffalo (W); vs. Miami (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 13-3; No. 1 seedExtra Point: The path to the No. 1 seed for the Pats is simple: Take care of business in the division and split the two remaining games against the NFC North. One thing to point out: the Jets and Pats are very close in tiebreakers, and in one scenario, we had them both at 13-3 and going all the way to the strength of victory tiebreaker to determine the No. 1 seed. Bottom line: Winning on Monday doesn't guarantee the Pats anything.

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 6 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Baltimore (L); vs. Cincinnati (W); vs. N.Y. Jets (L); vs. Carolina (W); at Cleveland (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 10-6; outExtra Point: It's obviously only a hunch, but that finale against the Browns has upset written all over it. Before Steelers fans riot in anger, let's point out the good: should Pittsburgh beat Cleveland and finish 11-5, tying them with K.C., the Steelers would win the tiebreaker based on record against common opponents.

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SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (6-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Oakland (W); vs. Kansas City (W); vs. San Francisco (W); at Cincinnati (W); at Denver (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 3 seed (wins tiebreaker with Kansas City on division record)Extra Point: Seems like everyone believes the Chargers will win out, and looking at that remaining schedule, it's hard to disagree. Even if San Diego lost one to fall to 10-6 and into a tie with Pittsburgh, the Chargers would win that tiebreaker based on conference record.

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Dallas (W); at Tennessee (L); vs. Jacksonville (W); at Oakland (W); vs. Tennessee (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 10-6; No. 4 seedExtra Point: Nothing we predict in the final five for the Colts seems like a reach, so as long as Peyton Manning and company can hold the line, they'll make it nine straight postseason berths.

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MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cleveland (W); at N.Y. Jets (L); vs. Buffalo (W); vs. Detroit (L); at New England (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 8-8; outExtra Point: Pull a stunner in Week 14 at the Meadowlands and we'll talk.

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HOUSTON TEXANS (5-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Philadelphia (L); vs. Baltimore (L); at Tennessee (L); at Denver (W); vs. Jacksonville (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 7-9; outExtra Point: Gary Kubiak's bunch has done nothing to make anyone believe it can run the table, which it likely needs to do to make its first postseason.

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TENNESSEE TITANS (5-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Jacksonville (W); vs. Indianapolis (W); vs. Houston (W); at Kansas City (L); at Indianapolis (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 8-8; outExtra Point: Even if the Titans get hot -- a big if, seeing as how they've lost four straight -- those two roadies to finish will be too much for Jeff Fisher's club.

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OAKLAND RAIDERS (5-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at San Diego (L); at Jacksonville (L); vs. Denver (W); vs. Indianapolis (L); at Kansas City (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 6-10; outExtra Point: Losing all but one of their final five games may be too harsh of a prediction for a team that's shown more than a little spunk this season, but tough to see the Raiders mounting any kind of run to the playoffs.

ATLANTA FALCONS (9-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Tampa Bay (W); at Carolina (W); at Seattle (W); vs. New Orleans (L); vs. Carolina (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 13-3; No. 1 seed (win tiebreaker with New Orleans on record against common opponents)Extra Point: If the Falcons can sweep a three-game road swing, they'll be in great shape . The key game in winning the common opponent tiebreaker with New Orleans? All the way back in Week 2, when the Falcons beat the Cardinals. (Arizona would later stun New Orleans in Week 5.)

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CHICAGO BEARS (8-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Detroit (W); vs. New England (L); at Minnesota (L); vs. N.Y. Jets (W); at Green Bay (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 10-6; No. 6 seed (win tiebreaker with Philadelphia on head-to-head)Extra Point: If the Vikings continue their turnaround, perhaps no team has a tougher final four games than the Bears. Losing three of four to finish, as we're projecting, wouldn't be great, momentum-wise, but would still be enough to sneak in.

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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Houston (W); at Dallas (L); at N.Y. Giants (L); vs. Minnesota (W); vs. Dallas (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 10-6; outExtra Point: Those back-to-back divisional road games in Week 14 and 15 will be crucial for the Eagles, who are 4-1 away from Lincoln Financial Field.

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ST. LOUIS RAMS (5-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Arizona (W); at New Orleans (L); vs. Kansas City (L); vs. San Francisco (W); at Seattle (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 7-9; outExtra Point: For a team that won one game in 2009, you can't ask for much more than being in control of your own playoff destiny heading into Week 17. Winning what would amount to a play-in game on the road against the 12th Man in Seattle, but that may be asking too much.

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (8-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 5 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Cincinnati (W); vs. St. Louis (W); at Baltimore (W); at Atlanta (W); vs. Tampa Bay (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 13-3; No. 5 seedExtra Point: Who would have thought a Week 5 loss against Arizona would hurt so much? Still, winning out and likely drawing the NFC West "winner" in the wild-card game means the defending champs would be feeling it heading into the divisional round.

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NEW YORK GIANTS (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 6 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Washington (W), at Minnesota (W), vs. Philadelphia (W), at Green Bay (L); at Washington (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 3 seedExtra Point: The key game likely will be the road clash against the Vikings in Week 14. Lose that and the playoffs would essentially start three weeks early for the Giants.

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TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Atlanta (L); at Washington (L); vs. Detroit (W); vs. Seattle (W); at New Orleans (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 9-7; outExtra Point: If they go 3-1 over the next four weeks, the Bucs likely would control their destiny going into Week 17 against the Saints.

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GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. San Francisco (W); at Detroit (W); at New England (W); vs. N.Y. Giants (W); vs. Chicago (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 2 seedExtra Point: Right now, we project the Packers, Saints and Chargers all having at least a five-game winning streak heading into the playoffs. No more than two teams have ever gone to the postseason on that long of a streak since the divisions realigned in 2002. If it does, you can chalk it up to the NFL backloading the schedules with divisional matchups to avoid teams playing meaningless games late in the season. Good job, Goodell.

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Carolina (W); at San Francisco (L); vs. Atlanta (L); at Tampa Bay (L); vs. St. Louis (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 7-9; No. 4 seed (wins tiebreaker with St. Louis on division record)Extra Point: It just feels wrong that a 6-9 team on a three-game losing streak would be able win its final game and make the playoffs. But that's precisely what we project. Welcome to the NFC West.

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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (4-7)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Green Bay (L); vs. Seattle (W); at San Diego (L); at St. Louis (L); vs. Arizona (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 6-10; outExtra Point: Too many tough road games left for the Niners to get back into the mix in the very winnable West.

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