It’s time to get crazy around the National Football League. Four weeks remain in the regular season, and even the two-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not eliminated from playoff contention.
Just think about that one thing for a second, guys and gals.
As it is, we figured it would be fun to check in on four of the craziest NFL playoff scenarios heading into Week 14. And as you will see, some of them are what could be defined as straitjacket in a padded room type of crazy.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Make the Playoffs at 6-10
Now this take a lot of efford by everyone in the NFC South. Here’s how it would work.
* Buccaneers win their final four games.
* Saints lose to the Panthers, Bears and Buccaneers while tying against the Falcons.
* Falcons lose to the Packers, Steelers and Panthers while tying against the Saints.
* Panthers lose to the Buccaneers and Browns while beating the Falcons and Saints.
This scenario would enable Tampa Bay to win the NFC South with a 6-10 record. Saints, Falcons and Panthers would all finish with a 5-10-1 record.
2. Arizona Cardinals Miss the Playoffs
This isn’t the unlikeliest of scenarios. Considering Arizona has lost two consecutive games and is in the midst of a three-game stretch that has seen the offense average less than a touchdown per outing, the Cardinals are going to have to work real heard in order to either win the NFC West or earn a wild card spot. The scenarios at play are somewhat reasonable.
* Arizona loses three of its final four games with both Seattle and San Francisco both going 3-1. In this scenario, San Francisco would have to beat the Seahawks in Seattle with its only loss coming against the San Diego Chargers at home. In that event, San Francisco would earn the tiebreaker over Arizona should all three of the Cardinals losses come within the division. In order for this scenario to play out, one of the following teams would have to earn the tiebreaker over Arizona or finish with 10 wins: Dallas (assuming they don’t win the NFC East) or Detroit.
* Arizona loses its final four games. In this scenario, the Cardinals stand pretty much zero chance of earning a playoff spot. It would also be the first team since Jon Gruden’s final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008 to start the season with a 9-3 record and miss the playoffs.
* Arizona splits its final four games. This scenario includes Seattle winning three of its last four and both the Lions and Cowboys winning out.
3. Denver Broncos Miss the Playoffs
At 9-3, many figure Peyton Manning and Co. will cruise to the AFC West title. And while Denver does hold the tiebreakers against its two top opponents in the division, there is an unrealistic scenario at play here that could leave the Broncos out in the cold when it comes to the playoffs.
* Denver loses three of its final four games (the next three), before defeating the Oakland Raiders in Week 17. This would put the Broncos at 10-6 on the season. With six teams currently at 7-5, there is likely going to be one team that finishes the season with four consecutive wins. And if the Chargers go 3-1, that means Denver’s on the outside looking in as it relates to the division. Under this scenario, another 7-5 team would have to either win out or beat Denver in a tiebreaker at season’s end.
Yeah, it’s not happening. Still somewhat fun to think about.
4. Tie Gives Cincinnati Homefield in the AFC Playoffs
Earlier this season, some indicated that the Panthers-Bengals tie could potentially play a role in both conferences. Now that Carolina is likely out of the mix in the NFC South, the focus here turns to the first-place Bengals, who are tied with both Denver and New England in the loss column. If the Bengals are able to finish with a better record than the Broncos and Patriots in this four-game stretch to end the season, they will earn the No. 1 seed and homefield in the AFC Playoffs. This actually isn’t that crazy of a scenario.
Photo: Fox Sports