2009 NFL Playoff Picture (Prior to Week 14)

Last Updated: December 9th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

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The NFL Playoffs race continues as we head into the final month of football with just 4 weeks remaining in the season. Luckily, a lot of teams won that needed to last weekend as nearly nobody was completely eliminated. However, there are a ton of scenarios that will eliminate a few teams this week and we will probably have an even better idea of what to expect following week 14. Check out the recap of week 13 and what some of these teams need to do to keep their chances at the postseason alive.

NFC Conference

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (8-4) – The Cowboys could have really locked down their playoff probabilities with a win over the Giants this weekend, but lost to New York for the 2nd time this season. Dallas now has opened the door for not only Philadelphia, but put the Giants right back into the picture. The Cowboys still hold the head to head advantage over the Eagles for their victory over Philadelphia, but there is very little room for error here on out. Also, is a pretty tough 4 game stretch to close out the season with San Diego, New Orleans, Washington, and Philadelphia. Will this be the start of another December collapse?

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) – The Eagles crushed the Falcons this week and even Michael Vick got involved in the action scoring his first touchdown of the season again his former team. The victory really solidified the Eagles chances of the playoffs. They still trail the Cowboys by a game and have a shot at the division, but if not they would really have to fall off to miss the postseason as they are in the leading position for a wild card berth.

New York Giants (7-5)

The New York Giants are right back into the thick of the playoff hunt. The Giants defense finally showed up after taking a few weeks off. Still, the Giants have to find a way to keep gaining ground on Dallas and Philadelphia. The Giants will get their chance this weekend when they get to try and revenge a 40-17 blowout from the Eagles earlier this year. If the Giants can claim that victory, their chances will look really good. If not, they will have to win the final 3 games to close out the year.

Washington Redskins (3-9)– Out

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) – The Vikings took a step back this past week appearing much more vulnerable than they have in recent weeks. The Arizona defense held Brett Farve and company to just 315 yards and Minnesota is still seeking another win to clinch the division. Minnesota lines up against Cincinnati and this is a place to be careful because another loss would take a lot of steam out of the Vikings especially their diminishing chances of home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers (8-4) – The Green Bay Packers put their selves in great position with a win over Baltimore this weekend. Aaron Rodgers threw for 263 yards in a 27-14 victory moving the Packers to 8-4 which is the same record as the division leaders in both the NFC East and NFC West. The chances of them catching the Vikings are very slim considering the Packers would have to win out while the Vikings would have to lose out, but they are looking like the best team to wrap up a wild card spot.

Chicago Bears (5-7) – Chicago salvaged their 4 game losing streak with a win over the St. Louis Rams. However, even that 17-9 win was less impressive for Chicago as Cutler was just 8 of 17 for 143 yards. This team still has a ton of problems and not much hope. However even at 5-7 the Bears are not mathematically out, but they probably need to win out which is something that will be completely unexpected.

Detroit Lions (2-10) – Out

NFC South

New Orleans Saints (12-0) – The Saints officially clinched the NFC South this weekend and in dramatic fashion. The Redskins appeared to be in position to pull of the upset, but the Saints fired back to score 10 points in the 4th quarter to tie the game at 30-30 and force overtime. Drew Brees helped the cause by throwing for 419 yards and got the Saints in position to kick a game winning field goal to stay undefeated. The Saints are now in the playoffs so the next thing to do is try and wrap up home field advantage.

Atlanta Falcons (6-6) – Atlanta was really just embarrassed by the Eagles this weekend as their defensive problems will likely be the reason they do not make the postseason. The Falcons really need win 3 of the last 4 to have a chance and to start that run will not be easy with the Saints next on the schedule. However, there is room for a strong ending with the last two games against Buffalo and Tampa Bay. Still, they must give their selves some type of chance and win a big game.

Carolina Panthers (5-7) – The Panthers offense did not break out of their slump this week with new quarterback Matt Moore, but they were still good enough to get things done on the ground. Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 120 yards. The Panthers are another team that may not be mathematically out, but still may have no chance. The reason is not only for the offensive struggles but the remaining schedule that reads Patriots, Vikings, Giants, and finishing with the Saints.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-11) – Out

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals (7-4) – The Cardinals looked very impressive this week against the Vikings and are showing signs of that breakout possibility similar to last year at season’s end. If their defense continues to play well, look out. As for the team in general, a win next week against the 49ers would clinch the NFC West.

San Francisco 49ers (5-7) – The 49ers all but killed their chances at the playoffs this past weekend with a loss to the Seahawks and are now in a must win situation against the Cardinals who appear to be playing well. However, if the 49ers get hot they could close strong with some winnable games left on the schedule but they still need more help than they will likely get.

Seattle Seahawks (5-7) – There is the slightest bit of hope for the Seahawks with a win over the 49ers, but another loss or Arizona win and they will be sitting at home during the postseason along with some other scenarios from potential wild card teams. The chances for all these scenarios to play out are about impossible, but they are not eliminated as of heading into week 14.

St. Louis Rams (1-11) – Out

AFC Conference

AFC East:

New England Patriots (7-4) – The Patriots had a comfortable cushion going into the week, but a late field goal by the Dolphins changed that in a hurry. The Patriots suffered a 22-21 loss bringing Miami and the New York within just 1 game in the AFC East. Fortunately for the Patriots, they have a softer schedule to close out the season meaning they should be able to bounce back. Most likely 3 wins would clinch the division, but they could get away with just 2 wins if other things were to happen.

Miami Dolphins (6-6) – Chad Henne threw for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns in the victory over the Patriots which got them back to the .500 mark on the season along with climbing right back into the playoff hunt. The trend the Dolphins have battled this season has been inconsistency. Looking at the schedule, you would expect the Dolphins to at least get to 8-8 by season’s end but that may be too much of assumption. Still, 8-8 will most likely not be good enough and the Dolphins may have to at least get to 9-7.

New York Jets (6-6) – The Jets were able to get by the Bills 19-13, but they still do not appear to be playing well. The offense has averaged just 19 points over the past 5 games. The Jets have some winnable games left on the schedule, but the way they have played of late does not warrant any type of attention.

Buffalo Bills (4-8) – Out

AFC North:

Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) – The Bengals helped pad their lead in the AFC North by taking down the Lions this week 23-13. Despite not posting any convincing big victories, Cincinnati keeps winning making 5 of their last 6 games. Closing out with Kansas City and the Jets gives them a great chance to win the division even if they can not get past the Vikings this week. However, when Cedric Benson is running the ball well they are extremely tough to beat.

Baltimore Ravens (6-6) – The Ravens have had every chance to give themselves a solid playoff position, but have failed miserable losing 6 of the last 9 games. The good news is the final 4 games can all be won and at least 3 of those will be expected outside of the meeting with Pittsburgh. However, 9-6 will still be pretty solid and give them every opportunity but the Ravens can not afford one mistake from here on out.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6) – This was suppose to be the week the defending Super Bowl Champions took down an inferior opponent to improve the playoff opportunities. Instead, the Steelers defense allowed Bruce Gradkowski to throw for 308 yards in a 27-24 loss devastating the chances of Pittsburgh making the postseason. Surely they can get past Cleveland this week, but then again that was the assumption last week as well.

Cleveland Browns (1-11) – Out

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts (12-0) – The Colts took down the streaking Titans 27-17 while Peyton Manning threw for another 270 yards to add to his wonderful season. The Colts are already in the playoffs and just trying to work on home field advantage. Manning is still on track to flirt with the 5,000 yard barrier and the Colts continue to look like the best team in the NFL with the help of the defense that is also playing well.

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) – Jacksonville scored a huge win over Houston this past Sunday by a score of 23-18 which really helped their playoff picture. The Jaguars now put themselves in the wild card position, but really need a win against Miami this weekend for things to continue to look good. The Patriots and Colts will both follow and sad thing is they will need to win at least 1 or hope from some help from the rest of the teams in the postseason race.

Houston Texans (5-7) – In reality, last week’s loss to the Jaguars was probably the nail in the coffin for the Texans. Houston has now lost 4 straight games. However, meetings with Seattle and St. Louis could get them back in the right direction. Still, they would likely have to win out to have a shot.

Tennessee Titans (5-7) – It took the best team in the NFL to finally put a halt of the Titans who were red hot having won 5 straight prior to their loss to the Colts. Tennessee could win out and have a shot, but that will likely not be the scenario. The most interesting aspect of the Titans is running back Chris Johnson who recorded his 7th straight 100 yard plus performance. Johnson is on track to become just the 2nd person in the last decade to reach the 2,000 yard mark if he can stay hot.

AFC West:

San Diego Chargers (9-3) – The Chargers had a mid-season scrimmage with the struggling Browns last week as Phillip Rivers led the offense with 373 passing yards. The Chargers jumped on the Browns early, but nearly let them get to close as the Browns scored 16 in the 4th quarter. The good news is the Chargers now appear to be locks for the playoffs and another win would almost guarantee them at least a wild card position. However, there are some tough games on the horizon as they finish with Dallas, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Washington.

Denver Broncos (8-4) – Denver beat up on the Chiefs in a big way winning 44-13 to improve to the 8-4 mark on the season. The Broncos remain in position to capture a wild card spot and may only need two more wins to seal their postseason faith. A rematch against Kansas City in the finale would be an expected win and also Oakland in two weeks would be another. Overall their position looks good, but a win against the unbeaten Colts this weekend would really make a big statement.

Oakland Raiders (4-8) – Out
Kansas City Chiefs (3-9) – Out

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 @ 12:31 am (EST)
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