NFL Playoff Situation Remains Muddy
With three regular-season games remaining, two NFL teams have clinched their division titles - the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, both 13-0.
Behind these two teams making historic runs, and the 11-2 Minnesota Vikings, who've clinched a playoff berth, there are 11 teams in the AFC and seven in the NFC with mathematical - if not legitimate - shots at a division title or wild-card berth.
- In the AFC, behind the division leaders are the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals , San Diego Chargers, and the Colts. The Denver Broncos sit at 8-5, with a four-way logjam at 7-6 (Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets). Of the 7-6 teams, the Ravens have the easiest remaining schedule (opponents are 15-24), while the Jets have the toughest at 28-11, including the Colts and Bengals.
NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin likes the Dolphins and Broncos to earn the AFC wild-card berths.
"I love Miami. I love the young quarterback (Chad) Henne; he's really coming around and playing within himself," Irvin said Monday.
"And I've liked Denver all year long. They started out great and everybody, including me, probably gave them a little too much credit, thinking they're better than they are. But I like them."
- In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota, Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans top their divisions, with the Green Bay Packers (9-4), Dallas Cowboys (8-5) and New York Giants (7-6) having the best shots at the wild-card spots. The Packers have the easiest schedule (19-19).
Marshall Faulk, the former St. Louis Rams great and current NFL Network analyst, sees the Cowboys and Packers as the wild cards. "I think the Giants' fate may have been sealed last night," says Faulk, referring to their 45-38 loss to the Eagles. "But Green Bay is playing exceptionally well."