Longshot playoff scenarios for the nine worst NFL teams still in contention

Nine terrible NFL teams can still somehow make the playoffs. Here are their scenarios

11/27/13 in NFL   |   JoeKukura   |   492 respect

Blog Photo - Longshot playoff scenarios for the nine worst NFL teams still in contentionGoing into Thanksgiving, the Jaguars are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt. So are the two-win Texans and Vikings. The awful Buccaneers and Redskins can also still squeak into the playoffs, as can the terrible Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. Completely improbable but still mathematically possible scenarios still exist for these nine awful NFL teams, as the only team in the NFL that is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs right now is the Atlanta Falcons. Let's take a look at the hilariously unlikely scenarios that could propel the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Browns, Bills, Giants or Raiders to an unexpected postseason berth.

Naturally, these teams must win out the rest of the season to qualify for the playoffs -- plus they need massive help. Most of these teams listed will be eliminated with one more loss. But I'm telling you there's a chance if you're a Jags, Texans, Vikings, Bucs, Redskins, Bills, Browns Giants or Raiders fan. For each of these teams, here's what needs to happen.

Blog Photo - Longshot playoff scenarios for the nine worst NFL teams still in contentionAt 2-9 currently, the best the Jags can possibly finish is 7-9. But they could still clinch the AFC South title.

If the Jags win out and the Colts lose out, both teams would finish at 7-9. In this theoretical scenario, the teams would both have 3-3 division records, but the Jaguars would have a superior conference record and therefore win the division. And the Jags have been hot lately!

Yet Tennessee looms in Jacksonville's way as well. Jacksonville needs for Tennessee to beat first-place Indianapolis on the road Sunday, and then they need for the 5-6 Titans to lose nearly every ensuing game this season. But the Jags can afford for the Titans to win one extra, preferably outside the division. If the Titans also finish at 7-9, Jacksonville has the superior division record and wins any tiebreaker. Even though the Titans are in the playoffs if the season ended today, Tennessee is still winless in the AFC South.

There are also multiple Wild Card scenarios for Jacksonville at a theoretical 7-9, which require winning out plus complete collapses by the Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Jets and Dolphins. Yes, all of them, because an 8-8 record will beat the Jaguars no matter what.

Blog Photo - Longshot playoff scenarios for the nine worst NFL teams still in contentionCurrently tied with Jacksonville but having lost the head-to-head matchup, 2-9 Houston also needs the unlikely five-game win streak while the Colts lose five straight. This would leave both the Texans and Colts at 7-9, but would award Houston the AFC South based on a superior division record. I must stress that this is a theoretical superior division record that does not yet exist -- Indy is undefeated in the division, while Houston just has that one win over the Titans in Week 2.

Which matters. Should the Titans also fall to 7-9, the Texans will have tiebreakers over the Titans based on a better division record (The Titans are currently 5-6, but winless in the AFC South).

The Titans can still make it in as a 7-9 Wild Card, if there are below-.500 Wild Cards in the AFC this year. The Titans are currently in as a 5-6 Wild Card if the season ended today. Just sayin'.

Blog Photo - Longshot playoff scenarios for the nine worst NFL teams still in contentionIn a weak NFC North that's otherwise all hovering around .500, the 2-8 Vikes could theoretically win the rest of their games and take the division crown at 8-8. So the standard "win out" rule applies, with terrible things happening to Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay.

But that tie game with the Packers hurts Minnesota -- they cannot finish ahead of the Lions if both teams finish 8-8. The Lions will have a better division record than the Vikings no matter what because of that tie game. But the Vikings can still win tiebreakers over the Packers and Bears with similar 8-8 records.

The 8-8 Wild Card is also a mathematical possibility for the Vikings, but only if both the 49ers and Cardinals lose out and the Eagles lose no fewer than three of five remaining. And again, the Vikings would have to win every remaining game.

There are also mathematically possible scenarios for the Redskins, Buccaneers, Bills, Browns, Raiders and Giants! Click on to read these longshot optimistic playoff scenarios....

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