By Tony McClean
Updated: December 9, 2004
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Okay, I’m gonna try and explain this week’s playoff scenarios without having it sound like too much gibberish. A deep breath and lets go……
– Like last week, Atlanta can clinch the NFC South Division with a win or tie, or with Tampa Bay and Carolina losses or ties.
– Indy can take the AFC South with a win, or a tie and a Jacksonville loss or tie.
– New England can earn the AFC East title with a win and a New York Jets loss. The Patriots clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie, or a Baltimore loss or tie, Denver loss or tie, or Pittsburgh win or tie.
– The Jets can clinch a playoff spot with a win, and a Buffalo loss or tie, Denver loss and San Diego win or tie. The Jets can also clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Buffalo loss or tie, Denver loss and Baltimore win or tie.
– And finally, Pittsburgh can clinch the AFC North Division with a win or tie, or a Baltimore loss or tie. The Steelers earn a playoff spot with a Denver loss or tie.
I hope you got all that. There’ll be a quiz at the end of this story
FACTOID OF THE WEEK
History proves that this is the best time of the season for “anything happening.” In eight of the past 10 seasons, at least one team with a 6-6 or lower record at this point in the season has advanced to the playoffs, including the 6-6 Green Bay Packers last year. Since 1990, three teams with 5-7 records made the playoffs (’90 Saints, ’95 Chargers and ’96 Jaguars).
LAST WEEK: 8-8 (108-85)
Oh, boooo. Just another .500 week. Damn those Seahawks, Vikings, and Ravens.
SEAHAWKS at VIKINGS
Two teams coming off painful and possibly harmful losses. Minnesota hit a rock at Solidier Field while the Birds had another meltdown, this time against the Tuna Helpers on Monday night. What should be a playoff preview, this game has been reduced to a battle for playoff survival. Viking fans are hoping that these remaining games isn’t a repeat of last year’s fall from the race.
JETS at STEELERS
A tough game for Gang Green has gotten even tougher with the loss of DE John Abraham. Plus when you consider that Pittsburgh is 14-2 all-time against the Jets (including 5-0 at home), do the Jets even stand a chance? Yes, the Black and Gold are fighting for home-field advantage in the AFC, but as last week showed nothing is a given. This has all the makings of a good upset for Reverend Herm.
RAMS at PANTHERS
The defending NFC champs have quietly gotten themselves back into the playoff race behind the legs of Nick Goings and their defense. The Rams enjoyed a nice scrimmage against the woeful 49ers, but I still remember the Monday night debacle of a few weeks ago. Even when Carolina was completely healthy, they handled the “Greatest Show On Turf”. With Marc Bulger out and Chris Chandler in, the Panthers may be licking their chops.
COLTS at TEXANS
The best thing that happened to Indy this week was the re-signing of WR Marvin Harrison. Now if they do the same thing for Edgerrin James, that will help. As for on the field, Peyton Manning is closing in on Dan Marino’s TD record. No. 18 is just 4 away and the Texans have one of the league’s most porous defenses. Danny Boy’s record could possibly fall by halftime and beyond.
Falcons over Raiders: Atlanta bounces back after a bump in the road at Tampa.
Ravens over Giants: Eli meet Ray. Ray meet Eli. Hide the women and children.
Bills over Browns: Buffalo wishes they were in the NFC.
Cowboys over Saints: Now we know why the Tuna drafted Julius Jones.
Packers over Lions: The Cheeseheads return with avengance.
Jaguars over Bears: Jacksonville needs this to stay in contention.
Patriots over Bengals: Corey Dillon could go wild against his old mates.
Broncos over Dolphins: The Fish are just standing in Denver’s way.
Cardinals over 49ers: Yawn!!!!!!!!!!!
Chargers over Bucs: Not without a fight from Tampa.
Eagles over Redskins: This will be closer than you’d expect because of the Skins’ D.
Titans over Chiefs: Only if McNair is under center.