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NFL playoff projections, Week 14

In Week 13, nobody clinched a playoff spot, the first time that's happened since the 2000 season. But don't blame the teams -- there was no scenario where a team could clinch a spot. That's not the case in Week 14.

The NFL, god bless 'em, found the time to figure out all the playoff-clinching scenarios this weekend. Here they are. A total of four teams -- the Patriots, Steelers and Jets in the AFC; the Falcons in the NFC -- could clinch this weekend, which means the continuously cloudy playoff picture will begin to clear up.

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. Without further ado...

ATLANTA FALCONS (10-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Carolina (W); at Seattle (L); vs. New Orleans (L); vs. Carolina (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 5 seedExtra Point: What has Seattle done to show it can upset Atlanta in Week 14? Nothing. But the Falcons are new to this whole front-running thing and a 2,600-mile road trip the week before a faceoff against the defending Super Bowl champs spells trap game to us. But hey, we've been wrong before...

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CHICAGO BEARS (9-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): 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 (wins tiebreaker with Eagles on head-to-head)Extra Point: We still believe the Bears are in for a cold spell and the next two weeks look like the best bet. It would be fun, though, if the games broke the right way and that Week 17 showdown in Lambeau was for the division title.

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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seed (wins tiebreaker with Giants on head-to-head)Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Dallas (L); at N.Y. Giants (L); vs. Minnesota (W); vs. Dallas (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 10-6; outExtra Point: Think Philly fans would be outraged to be 10-6 and miss the playoffs? Imagine the scenario where the Packers, Bears, Giants and Eagles all finish 11-5, and one of those four (possibly, again, Philly) would stay home in January while a .500 (or worse) NFC West winner hosts a playoff game.

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ST. LOUIS RAMS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seed (wins tiebreaker with Seahawks on head-to-head)Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at New Orleans (L); vs. Kansas City (L); vs. San Francisco (W); at Seattle (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 7-9; outExtra Point: They don't have to do it, but the Rams would like their situation a whole lot more if they can get a W in either of their next two games. It'd take the pressure off a young team heading into Week 16 knowing it likely would have to win its final two games.

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 5 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. St. Louis (W); at Baltimore (W); at Atlanta (W); vs. Tampa Bay (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 13-3; No. 1 seedExtra Point: Remember last winter, when everyone was worried about the Saints losing three straight to end the season? That turned out OK for New Orleans. So how scary would it be if the Saints go into their title defense on a nine-game winning streak, as we project? Don't sleep on the champs.

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NEW YORK GIANTS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 6 seed (wins tiebreaker with Packers on conference record)Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): 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 Giants can't get caught looking past the Vikings into next week's showdown with the Eagles at the New Meadowlands. A loss in the Metrodome would put them in the unenviable position of likely having to win out to make the postseason.

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GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): 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: A Super Bowl preview Week 15 in Foxboro? That's how it will be billed, but the Packers can't get too caught up in that hype. If Green Bay doesn't win three of its final four, it very likely could miss the playoffs altogether.

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TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Washington (L); vs. Detroit (W); vs. Seattle (W); at New Orleans (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 9-7; outExtra Point: Tampa has a very forgiving slate the next three weeks, but injuries are mounting and, so far, the young Bucs haven't proven they can win the games they have to.

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at San Francisco (L); vs. Atlanta (W); at Tampa Bay (L); vs. St. Louis (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 8-8; No. 4 seedExtra Point: As we pointed out last week, even if Seattle doesn't pull the upset at home against the Falcons, it can still go 7-9 and win the tiebreaker with St. Louis based on division record.

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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (4-8)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Seattle (W); at San Diego (L); at St. Louis (L); vs. Arizona (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 6-10; outExtra Point: The Niners face an elimination game at home Sunday and we project they'll stay alive for another week. Get through those back-to-back roadies in Weeks 15 and 16 and they have a very winnable finale. Can't see Alex Smith being that much of a savior, though.

NOTE: The 5-7 Vikings and Redskins, the 4-8 Cowboys and the 3-9 Cardinals have not been eliminated from playoff contention.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-2)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Chicago (W); vs. Green Bay (L); at Buffalo (W); vs. Miami (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 13-3; No. 1 seedExtra Point: As impressive as the Pats looked Monday, it's still difficult to project a clean sweep the next two weeks against tough NFC North foes. Still, by whipping the Jets, New England bought itself the luxury of losing one of those games and still cruising to home-field advantage.

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cincinnati (W); vs. N.Y. Jets (L); vs. Carolina (W); at Cleveland (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 2 seedExtra Point: We like the Jets in Week 15, only because New York will be desperate to prove it's not a fraud. But even with a home loss there, the Steelers can feast on the Bengals and Panthers before getting a nice playoff primer in the Dawg Pound against the tough Browns.

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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at San Diego (L); at St. Louis (W); vs. Tennessee (W); vs. Oakland (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 3 seedExtra Point: The Raiders' upset of the Chargers last week lessened the importance of K.C.'s clash with San Diego this week. The Chiefs are in great shape, even if they can't win at Qualcomm, to get their first division title since 2003.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (7-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Oakland (W); at Indianapolis (L); vs. Washington (W); at Houston (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 9-7; outExtra Point: Call us crazy, but we can't see a team with a -43 point differential winning three of four to close the season, which it might need to do.

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NEW YORK JETS (9-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 5 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Miami (W); at Pittsburgh (W); at Chicago (L); vs. Buffalo (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 5 seedExtra Point: Yes, the Jets looked terrible Monday night. No, they won't miss the playoffs. New York, in fact, can clinch a playoff spot this week. Even if the Jets get swept in their final two road games, as long as they take care of business at home, they're in.

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BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 6 seedRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Houston (W); vs. New Orleans (L); at Cleveland (W); vs. Cincinnati (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 11-5; No. 6 seedExtra Point: No time for a hangover in Houston, not with the Saints coming to Baltimore in Week 15. If the Ravens drop to 10-6 and the Chargers win out to get to 10-6, San Diego would win the tiebreaker on common games.

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SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Kansas City (W); vs. San Francisco (W); at Cincinnati (W); at Denver (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 10-6; outExtra Point: All hope is not lost, but after Sunday's loss to the Raiders, the Chargers are going to need some help. The good news? San Diego has the easiest final four games of any other playoff contender.

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Tennessee (W) vs. Jacksonville (W); at Oakland (W); vs. Tennessee (W)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 10-6; No. 4 seedExtra Point: The Colts can still win the division at 9-7, but it'd require a complete breakdown by the Jags, who likely would win a tiebreaker with Indy at 9-7. That's why the simplest thing for Indy to do is win out, which is what we project Peyton Manning and company to do.

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MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at N.Y. Jets (L); vs. Buffalo (W); vs. Detroit (L); at New England (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 7-9; outExtra Point: The definition of a playoff long shot, as the Dolphins would have to win out against a very tough schedule AND have other better-position wild-card hopefuls fall by the wayside.

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OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: OutRemaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Jacksonville (L); vs. Denver (W); vs. Indianapolis (L); at Kansas City (L)Final Projected Record, Playoff Seeding: 7-9; outExtra Point: The Chiefs' worst nightmare would be for the Raiders to win their next three games, potentially making their Week 17 showdown in Kansas City for the division title.

NOTE: The 5-7 Browns, Titans and Texans have not been eliminated from contention.

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