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Posted: Tuesday November 18, 2008 12:19PM; Updated: Tuesday November 18, 2008 2:56PM
Dom Bonvissuto Dom Bonvissuto >
INSIDE THE NFL

NFL Playoff Projections, Week 12

Story Highlights

Defending AFC champ Patriots on outside of playoffs, looking in

Dolphins projected to go from 1-15 to playoffs in one season

Cardinals can clinch NFC West division title on Sunday

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AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
Scenario No. 1 seed No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 No. 5 No. 6
If Playoffs Started Today Titans Steelers Jets Broncos Colts Ravens
SI.com Projections Titans Broncos Jets Steelers Colts Dolphins

Think it's too early for playoff projections? Think again. The postseason could get its first participants Sunday if things fall right for the Tennessee Titans and the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, the latter is the same franchise which hasn't been to the playoffs in a decade and has won exactly two playoff games in 88 years of existence.

Beginning today, SI.com will publish weekly playoff projections each Tuesday. 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 here. Without further ado...

AFC

Tennessee Titans (10-0)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1 seed
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. NY Jets (W); at Detroit (W); vs. Cleveland (W); at Houston (L); vs. Pittsburgh (W); at Indianapolis (L)
Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 14-2; No. 1 seed
Extra Point: We predict Tennessee's perfection will end in a meaningless road game at Houston after the Titans already secure home-field advantage. The Titans can clinch a playoff spot Sunday if the following four things all happen: 1) Titans win; 2) Dolphins lose or tie; 3) Ravens lose or tie; 4) Steelers lose.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seed
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cincinnati (W); at New England (L); vs. Dallas (L); at Baltimore (W); at Tennessee (L); vs. Cleveland (W)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 4 seed
Extra Point: The most important game for Pittsburgh the rest of the way will be Week 15 at Baltimore; the Steelers beat the Ravens in Week 4.

New York Jets (7-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seed
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Tennessee (L); vs. Denver (L); at San Francisco (W); vs. Buffalo (W); at Seattle (W); vs. Miami (W)
Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 3 seed (lose tiebreaker with Denver on head-to-head)
Extra Point: After Week 12, all of the Jets' difficult games come at home.

Denver Broncos (6-4)

jay-cutler.jpg
Jay Cutler is trying to lead the Broncos to their first playoff appearance since 2005.
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seed
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Oakland (W); at NY Jets (W); vs. Kansas City (W); at Carolina (L); vs. Buffalo (W); at San Diego (W)
Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 2 seed (win tiebreaker with NY Jets on head-to-head)
Extra Point: With a two-game cushion in the AFC West, the Broncos could wrap up the division title relatively early and shoot for a first-round bye.

Indianapolis Colts (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 5 seed (wins tiebreaker with Baltimore and Miami on conference record)
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at San Diego (W), at Cleveland (W), vs. Cincinnati (W), vs. Detroit (W), at Jacksonville (L), vs. Tennessee (W)
Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 5 seed
Extra Point: Back-to-back road contests the next two weekends will show whether Peyton Manning and company are indeed back.

Baltimore Ravens (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 6 (wins tiebreaker over Miami on head-to-head)
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Philadelphia (L); at Cincinnati (W); vs. Washington (W); vs. Pittsburgh (L); at Dallas (L); vs. Jacksonville (W)
Final Projected Record: 9-7; Out
Extra Point: Three games remaining against NFC East teams spell trouble.

Miami Dolphins (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. New England (W), at St. Louis (W), at Buffalo (L), vs. San Francisco (W), at Kansas City (W), at NY Jets (L)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 6 seed (win tiebreaker with New England on head-to-head)
Extra Point: If the Dolphins hold serve against the three losing teams remaining on their schedule, they'll set themselves up nicely for an improbable trip to the playoffs.

New England Patriots (6-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Miami (L); vs. Pittsburgh (W); at Seattle (W); at Oakland (W); vs. Arizona (W); at Buffalo (L)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; Out
Extra Point: Huge game Sunday against the Dolphins, who already beat the Pats once this season. Tiebreaker scenarios do not favor New England if the projected results play out.

Buffalo Bills (5-5)
If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Kansas City (W), vs. San Francisco (W), vs. Miami (W), at NY Jets (L), at Denver (L), vs. New England (W)
Final Projected Record: 9-7; out
Extra Point: Losers in five of last six and sitting in last in the AFC East, it's difficult to see Buffalo making a serious run at the playoffs.

San Diego Chargers (4-6)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Indianapolis (L), vs. Atlanta (W), vs. Oakland (W), at Kansas City (W), at Tampa Bay (W), vs. Denver (L)
Final Projected Record: 8-8; out
Extra Point: San Diego dug itself too deep a hole early, so even a strong final six games won't be enough to make the playoffs -- but will it be enough to save Norv Turner's job?

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