Fantastic Four – Which Four Teams Can Clinch a Playoff Spot Today??

As the season continues, teams throughout the NFL are desperately trying to win in order to receive a coveted playoff spot.  This week brings a number of games with playoff implications.  Four teams can actually clinch a playoff spot today.  Here is a look at the scenarios involved with each team that can propel them into the playoffs!

New England Patriots

Perhaps the best contest of Week 14 is between the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears.  After Monday night’s destruction of the Jets, the Patriots find themselves with the best record (10-2) in the AFC East.  Chicago comes into today’s game at 9-3 and holding only a one game lead over Green Bay in the NFC North.   Though they are in different conferences, both teams desperately want to win this one.

Green Bay plays the Detroit Lions today and should walk away with a win.  If Chicago wants to maintain its first place standing, they need a win vs. the Patriots so they are not tied with the Packers in their division. 

 New England can clinch a spot in the playoffs if they win or tie today.  They also earn a playoff spot if Miami loses or ties AND Jacksonville loses or ties.  Another way the Pats can secure a playoff spot today is with a Miami loss or tie AND an Indianapolis loss or tie.

Tom Brady (it pains me to say) is in “the zone” and is leading the NFL with TD passes (27).  He is in complete command of his team and should win this one, thereby securing a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The 9-3 Steelers host the struggling Bengals today, who limp in with a 2-10 record.   The Steelers, in first place in the AFC North after defeating the Ravens last week, should dominate this matchup.   The Steelers can secure a playoff spot today if they win and any of the below scenarios takes place:

A Colts loss/tie AND a Patriots win/tie AND a Miami loss/tie

A Colts loss/tie AND a Patriots win/tie AND a Raiders loss/tie AND a Chargers loss/tie

A Colts loss/tie AND a Miami loss/tie AND a Raiders loss/tie

A Miami loss/tie AND a Raiders loss/tie AND a Chargers loss/tie AND a Colts loss

A Jacksonville loss/tie AND a Patriots win/tie AND a Miami loss/tie

New York Jets

After the build up to last week’s Monday Night Football game vs. the Patriots, the Jets were humiliated in the national spotlight.  No one anticipated the 45-3 beating the Jets endured at the hands of Brady and company.   The 9-3 Jets face the struggling Miami Dolphins who are 6-6 and the perfect remedy for the Jets after their MNF embarrassment.  Mark Sanchez will look to redeem himself and Gang Green and unlike last week, should emerge with their heads held high.  The Jets can clinch a playoff spot if they win and any of the following scenarios occurs:

A Chargers loss/tie AND a Jacksonville loss/tie

A Chargers loss/tie AND a Colts loss/tie 

A Raiders loss/tie AND a Chargers loss AND a Colts loss

If the Jets tie today’s game, they can still secure a playoff spot. But, the Raiders would have to lose or tie AND  the Chargers would need to lose AND, finally, the Colts would have to lose.  Yes, the various scenarios involved in teams securing playoff spots can be quite complicated, but it is one of the exciting aspects of this time of year!

Atlanta Falcons

The 10-2 Atlanta Falcons sit atop the NFC South and face the Carolina Panthers who have the worst record in the NFL.  Atlanta should easily win this one and can clinch a playoff spot if they win and any of the following scenarios takes place:

A Giants loss AND an Eagles loss

A Giants loss AND a Packers loss

An Eagles loss AND a Packers loss

If the unthinkable occurs and Atlanta ties the Panthers, they could still secure a playoff spot if the Giants lose AND the Eagles lose AND Green Bay loses AND Tampa Bay loses or ties!

There are lots of other games today and tomorrow that offer excitement in their own right.  Here are a few non-playoff scenarios of interest…

Will Brett Favre keep his NFL streak for consecutive starts, despite the sprain to his throwing shoulder and his inability to throw a pass in practice?  More importantly, how will the blizzard that shut down the Twin Cities and pushed the game from Sunday afternoon to Monday night impact the game?  Will another day of rest allow Favre to start?  Will the layover the Giants were forced to endure in Kansas City affect their play?  We think the Giants win this one, but it may be a bit harder due to the chaos the team has lived through for the past few days.  Being stranded in an airport and forced to eat airport food cannot be the best preparation for an NFL game!  

Will the Dallas Cowboys be a spoiler and defeat the high-flying Eagles and QB phenom Michael Vick?  It’s a Sunday night prime time game, but we think the Eagles will prevail and remain tied for first place with the Giants.  Next Sunday, the tie will be broken when the Eagles and Giants face each other for a critical game.  That is a matchup that cannot be missed!

It’s Week 14 in the NFL!   Make some hot chocolate, wrap up in your favorite comfy blanket and watch the drama unfold!

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