by JJ Cooper
This isn't a good year to try to limp into the playoffs.
In most years, a 9-7 team has a very solid chance of making it to the playoffs. Since 2000, at least one team with a 9-7 or worse record has made the playoffs in five of the eight seasons. But this year, with four AFC and four NFC teams that are not leading their divisions sitting at 7-4 or better, it looks likely that 9-7 will not be enough to earn a wild card spot. To get in with a mediocre record, you need to be lucky enough to play in the AFC West.
So 5-5-1 Philly? The Eagles? Say sayonara. Not only did they get spit out by the Ravens and Andy Reid sparked a quarterback controversy by benching Donovan McNabb, but they have only one gimmee (a home game against Cleveland) left on the schedule. With the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins to play, the Eagles will help determine who wins the NFC East, but it won't be them. The Dolphins, Ravens, Patriots and Bills are all sitting at 6-5 or better, but it's likely that three of those four will be home for the playoffs, and even an 8-3 team like the Steelers can't be assured that its playoff ticket is waiting at will call.
But with five weeks left in the season, things are starting to clear up. Obviously it's too soon to feel very confident about what 12 teams will make it, but looking at everyone's upcoming schedule, here's a prediction as to how the playoffs will shape up. Now after some upsets over the next week, there will probably be a change or two next week, but this prediction was made by looking at each team's final five games on the schedule.
Predicting the Playoffs: Cowboys May Have Won, but They Shouldn't Get Too Comfortable originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Tue, 25 Nov 2008 14:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.