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Posted: Tuesday November 25, 2008 1:21PM; Updated: Tuesday November 25, 2008 2:35PM
Dom Bonvissuto Dom Bonvissuto >
INSIDE THE NFL

NFL Playoff Projections, Week 13

Story Highlights

If playoffs started today, Cowboys and Patriots would be out

Titans, Giants, Cards can all clinch playoff spots in Week 13

Race for NFC South, North titles will come down to Week 17

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thomas-jones.jpg
Thomas Jones and the New York Jets have won seven of their past eight games.
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After watching the Broncos, our projected No. 2 seed in the AFC, lose by three touchdowns at home to the Raiders, we took the advice of more than a few readers and laid off the Maker's Mark while typing this follow-up to last week's inaugural Playoff Projections column.

The extra whiskey might come in handy, though, for fans of the Cowboys and Patriots looking to drown their sorrows. Although both preseason Super Bowl favorites are coming off impressive wins Sunday and appear to be hitting their stride, each would still be on the outside of the playoffs looking in if the postseason started today.

But in projecting the final five weeks of the season, we foresee Dallas and New England making their way into the mix and providing some unlucky division winners with a tough draw in the Wild-Card round.

Who else do we like for the postseason? 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 continue to do this weekly until the playoff field is set.

(We use the NFL's official tiebreaker procedures to determine seeding. If you have any questions or comments, please email us.)

AFC

Tennessee Titans (10-1)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 1 seed
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Detroit (W); vs. Cleveland (W); at Houston (L); vs. Pittsburgh (W); at Indianapolis (L)
Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 13-3; No. 1 seed
Extra Point: The Titans can clinch the AFC South with a Thanksgiving win over the Lions coupled with a Colts loss at Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 2 seed (win tiebreaker with NY Jets on conference record)
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at New England (L); vs. Dallas (L); at Baltimore (W); at Tennessee (L); vs. Cleveland (W)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 3 seed (win tiebreaker with Baltimore on head-to-head)
Extra Point: A Week 15 win over the Ravens would give the Steelers the season sweep and the trump card in a tiebreaker scenario.

New York Jets (8-3)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 3 seed
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Denver (W); at San Francisco (W); vs. Buffalo (L); at Seattle (W); vs. Miami (W)
Final Projected Record: 12-4; No. 2 seed
Extra Point: Eric Mangini's crew is red-hot. Winnable road games the rest of the way mean the Jets should continue to be heading into the postseason.

Denver Broncos (6-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: In; No. 4 seed
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at NY Jets (L); vs. Kansas City (W); at Carolina (L); vs. Buffalo (W); at San Diego (W)
Final Projected Record: 9-7; No. 4 seed
Extra Point: Somebody has to win the West, and it might as well be the Broncos ... but we aren't typing that with much conviction.

Indianapolis Colts (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 5 seed (wins tiebreaker with Baltimore and New England on head-to-head)
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Cleveland (W), vs. Cincinnati (W), vs. Detroit (W), at Jacksonville (L), vs. Tennessee (W)
Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 5 seed (wins tiebreaker with New England on head-to-head)
Extra Point: Here's an interesting question for you bettors out there -- what would the line be for an 11-5 Colts team visiting a 9-7 or 8-8 Broncos team in the Wild-Card round? We're going with Colts -2.5.

Baltimore Ravens (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 6 (wins tiebreaker over New England on conference record)
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Cincinnati (W); vs. Washington (W); vs. Pittsburgh (L); at Dallas (L); vs. Jacksonville (W)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; out
Extra Point: A potential 8-4 record in the AFC would be pivotal if they end up in a tiebreaker with the Patriots.

New England Patriots (7-4)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Pittsburgh (W); at Seattle (W); at Oakland (W); vs. Arizona (W); at Buffalo (L)
Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 6 seed
Extra Point: Seems like the Patriots are playing in big, playoff-implication games every week and that won't change Sunday against the Steelers. Deep breath games await, though, in Week 14 and 15.

Miami Dolphins (6-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at St. Louis (W), at Buffalo (L), vs. San Francisco (W), at Kansas City (W), at NY Jets (L)
Final Projected Record: 9-7; out
Extra Point: The Dolphins will need to win on the road against Buffalo or the Jets to have a chance.

Buffalo Bills (6-5)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. San Francisco (W), vs. Miami (W), at NY Jets (W), at Denver (L), vs. New England (W)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; out
Extra Point: Win either of the back-to-back road games in Week 15 and 16 and the Bills might have a shot.

San Diego Chargers (4-7)

If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Atlanta (W), vs. Oakland (W), at Kansas City (W), at Tampa Bay (L), vs. Denver (L)
Final Projected Record: 7-9; out
Extra Point: With the schizophrenic Broncos leading the West, the Chargers still have life. Every week from here on out is essentially a playoff game for San Diego, with a loss likely ending its slim hope.

AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
Scenario No. 1 seed No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 No. 5 No. 6
If Playoffs Started Today Tennessee Pittsburgh NY Jets Denver Indianapolis Baltimore
SI.com Projections Tennessee NY Jets Pittsburgh Denver Indianapolis New England

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