START, every NFL club has playoff hopes, the optimism ranging from realistic
expectations of 14-2 and home field advantage to wishful thinking about 8-8 and
the sixth wild-card spot. Assuming 16-0 is out of the question, what's the most
your favorite club can hope for? SI looked at each team's schedule to devise a
best-case scenario--how the season could play out if all the key elements break
right. The chart rates each game from -5 (certain loss) to +5 (sure win) and
notes a handful of important matchups and calendar quirks that will make or
break the season. The +1s are the games to watch--win those, and the hope
FINGERS CROSSED - Every game Carson Palmer starts enhances the Bengals' shot at
making the Super Bowl.
@ NEW ENGLAND
@ MIAMI lose -1
NEW YORK JETS win +2
MINNESOTA win +1
@ CHICAGO lose -1
@ DETROIT win +1
NEW ENGLAND lose -2
GREEN BAY win +1
@ INDIANAPOLIS lose -3
@ HOUSTON lose -1
JACKSONVILLE win +1
SAN DIEGO win +1
@ NEW YORK JETS win +1
MIAMI lose -2
TENNESSEE win +2
@ BALTIMORE lose -1
They better win the close ones, because they won't blow out anyone. If Losman's
decent, the defense will give them a wild-card shot.
? Welcome to the
AFC East, coach Dick Jauron. A baptism by fire with the toughest first two
weeks of any team in the league.
? Vital that the Bills steal one of these two road games, or they can kiss the
? Brady, Favre and Peyton back to back to back. CB Nate Clements, get your
track shoes on.
? J.P. Losman, a SoCal guy, prays for snow to slow rabid Chargers D.