Nine terrible NFL teams can still somehow make the playoffs. Here are their scenarios
"Only" 3 games back on the Bengals with 5 games remaining, the 4-7 Browns could still win each remaining game and be AFC North champions with a 9-7 record. Because the rest of the AFC North could theoretically finish 2-3 or worse. And unicorns could theoretically fly out of the Cuyahoga River, guaranteeing that it never catches fire again and that Brandon Weeden never throws another underhanded interception.
A Browns Wild Card berth at 9-7 seems even less plausible. The AFC West bridesmaid (Denver or KC) gets the first AFC Wild Card slot no matter what. But the Browns could get the second AFC Wild Card by winning out, plus getting 2-3 or worse finishes by all of the following: Titans, Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Jets and Dolphins. If this happens, plus the Raiders finish 3-2 or worse, Cleveland is in the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
There is also the remote technical possibility of an 8-8 Wild Card berth for Cleveland. This would require a 4-1 finish, plus inconceivable 1-4 or 0-5 collapses by the seven other AFC Wild Card contenders.
OAKLAND RAIDERS PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
It is still very slightly mathematically possible for the Raiders to win the AFC West -- but only if Denver and Kansas City tie each other this weekend, and then both lose all their remaining games. Then the Raiders win the division at 9-7, while the Broncos and Chiefs both finish at 9-6-1.
That is not going to happen.
But if the Raiders beat the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, they're still looking at a possible 9-7 Wild Card slot. They would need a 2-3 or worse finish by all of the following: Titans, Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Jets and Dolphins. If that somehow happened, they'd also need Cleveland to drop at least 2 of their remaining 5 games.
NEW YORK GIANTS PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
Only 2 games out of first place with 5 remaining, the New York Giants are very much in the NFC East hunt. The Giants still play the Redskins twice, and both of those seem winnable. Heck, the Giants can even afford to drop one to the Redskins.
But to win the NFC East, the Giants need to win it outright. No matter what happens, the New York will finish with a worse division record than either Dallas or Philadelphia, so the Giants lose the main tiebreaker.
If the Giants cannot win the division, they can still win an NFC Wild Card at 9-7 or 8-8. This will require San Francisco and Arizona losing least 3 of their remaining 5 games, plus Philadelphia and Chicago losing at least 2 of their remaining 5 games and Green Bay and St. Louis losing at least 1 of their remaining 5 games -- with the Giants winning all of their remaining games (with a 1-game margin of error).
So I'm telling you there's a chance, Jaguars, Vikings, Texans, Buccaneers, Redskins, Browns, Bills, Raiders and Giants fans.