SI.com Home
Get SI's Duke Championship Package Free  Subscribe to SI Give the Gift of SI
  • PRINT PRINT
  • EMAIL EMAIL
  • RSS RSS
  • BOOKMARK SHARE
Posted: Tuesday December 9, 2008 1:35PM; Updated: Wednesday December 10, 2008 2:08PM
Dom Bonvissuto Dom Bonvissuto >
INSIDE THE NFL

NFL Playoff Projections, Week 15

Story Highlights

The only NFC East representative in the playoffs will be the Giants

The NFC South will have three playoff teams: Panthers, Bucs, Falcons

The AFC East race will come down to the Jets-Dolphins in Week 17

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
tony-romo.jpg
Coming off a heart-breaking loss to the Steelers, Tony Romo and the Cowboys still have three difficult games remaining.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The shocking, oatmeal-smoking, whiskey-imbibing, glue-sniffing revelation in this week's projections won't be hard to find. Especially if you're a Cowboys fan. Or if you believe the NFC East is the best division in football. Or simply if you're really good at scrolling to the bottom of the page to see the table for yourself.

With three weeks to go, it's our projection that the NFC East -- the division everyone was falling all over themselves trying to declare as the best in the league earlier in the season -- will have only one team reach the postseason. The beneficiary? The NFC South, which we predict will make up half of the conference's six-team playoff field.

Why would we predict something so asinine? We make our case below as we break down 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.)

NFC

New York Giants (11-2)
If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 1 seed.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Dallas (L), vs. Carolina (W), at Minnesota (L)
Final Projected Record; Playoff Seeding: 12-4; No. 1 seed.
Extra Point: The beauty of having such a great start is the Giants can struggle down the stretch and still have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Carolina Panthers (10-3)
If The Playoffs Started Today:
No. 2 seed.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Denver (W), at NY Giants (L), at New Orleans (W)
Final Projected Record: 12-4; No. 2 seed.
Extra Point: Believe it or not, the Panthers quietly could earn homefield advantage by winning their final three games. They would certainly earn it, with a home game against a playoff team and two road contests still left on the slate. But even a worst-case scenario (losing two of three) should be enough to get Carolina at least a wild-card entry.

Minnesota Vikings (8-5)
If The Playoffs Started Today:
No. 3 seed (win tiebreaker with Arizona on conference record).
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Arizona (L), vs. Atlanta (L), vs. NY Giants (W)
Final Projected Record: 9-7; No. 4 seed.
Extra Point: Look, the Giants won't have anything to play for in Week 17. And the Vikings, who will struggle the next two weeks without the Williamses and possibly Gus Frerotte, will. That's our theory and we're sticking to it.

Arizona Cardinals (8-5)
If The Playoffs Started Today:
No. 4 seed.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Minnesota (W), at New England (W), vs. Seattle (L)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; No. 3 seed.
Extra Point: The NFC West champs won't relax because ... 1) the No. 2 seed is still within grasp; and 2) they still have a lot to prove.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4)
If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 5 seed.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Atlanta (L), vs. San Diego (W), vs. Oakland (W)
Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 5/6 seed. (tiebreaker with Atlanta would be strength of victory).
Extra Point: Two home games against the AFC Worst to close out the season virtually guarantee the Bucs a playoff spot.

Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
If The Playoffs Started Today: No. 6 seed (win tiebreaker with Atlanta on conference record).
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. NY Giants (W), vs. Baltimore (W), at Philadelphia (L)
Final Projected Record: 10-6; out
Extra Point: Back-to-back home games (the last two ever at Texas Stadium) will give the Cowboys a chance to save the season, but a trip to Philly in Week 17 might be asking too much.

Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
If The Playoffs Started Today:
Out.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Tampa Bay (W), at Minnesota (W), vs. St. Louis (W).
Final Projected Record: 11-5; No. 5/6 seed. (tiebreaker with Tampa Bay would be strength of victory).
Extra Point: Three December games left with nary a snowflake in sight for the story-of-the-season Falcons.

Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1)
If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. Cleveland (W), at Washington (L), vs. Cowboys (W)
Final Projected Record: 9-6-1; out.
Extra Point: Winning out and hoping the Falcons stumble is a realistic possibility for the surging Eagles.

Washington Redskins (7-6)
If The Playoffs Started Today: Out.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Cincinnati (W), vs. Philadelphia (W), at San Francisco (L)
Final Projected Record: 9-7; out.
Extra Point: Even if they win out, the Redskins would be fighting an uphill battle in tiebreakers.

Chicago Bears (7-6)
If The Playoffs Started Today:
Out.
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): vs. New Orleans (W), vs. Green Bay (L), at Houston (L)
Final Projected Record: 8-8; out.
Extra Point: With the Vikings potentially struggling down the stretch, the Bears could go into their road finale against the Texans with a shot at the division title.

New Orleans Saints (7-6)
If The Playoffs Started Today: Out
Remaining Schedule (Projected Results): at Chicago (L), at Detroit (W), vs. Carolina (L)
Final Projected Record: 8-8; out.
Extra Point: The Saints will continue to disappoint if they ride this win-one-lose-one system they've mastered the past two seasons.

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
Scenario No. 1 seed No. 2 seed No. 3 seed No. 4 seed No. 5 seed No. 6 seed
If Playoffs Started Today NY Giants Carolina Minnesota Arizona Tampa Dallas
SI.com Projections NY Giants Carolina Arizona Minnesota Tampa/Atlanta Tampa/Atlanta

.

1 2
  • PRINT PRINT
  • EMAIL EMAIL
  • RSS RSS
  • BOOKMARK SHARE
ADVERTISEMENT
SI.com
Hot Topics: NBA Playoffs NHL Playoffs Chris Johnson Jameis Winston NFL Draft Michael Sam Aldon Smith
TM & © 2013 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint