As unlikely as it sounds, with three weeks left in the season, only ten teams have been officially eliminated from the playoffs, five in each conference.
In the AFC, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami and Jacksonville are out. In the NFC, Carolina, Minnesota, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Washington are done.
That still leaves 22 teams, of which only four (Green Bay, Houston, New Orleans and San Francisco) have clinched a playoff spot. 18 teams are still battling to keep their playoff chances alive or to clinch a postseason berth. Should make for interesting games this weekend.
A short preview of all sixteen games as well as our picks after the break.
JAC @ ATL: What is up with that Jaguars defense? The Jaguars are 4-9 but sport the seventh best scoring defense. Unfortunately, the Jaguars offense isn't on the same level. They hadn't scored more than 20 points in any of their games this season until they put up 41 against Tampa Bay last week. Will that be enough to beat the Falcons, who are playing for a post-season berth? BTB Consensus says: Atlanta
DAL @ TB:The Bucs are 0-7 in their last seven games. In those games, they've been outscored 17.0 - 32.1 on average. If the Cowboys don't win this one, I give up. BTB Consensus says: Dallas
CIN @ STL: What a disappointing turn of events for the Bengals. After week nine, they were tied with the Ravens for the division lead in the AFC North with a 6-2 record. Since then, they are 1-4. The Rams feature the worst offense in the league and the 25th ranked defense, so the Bengals could pick up a confidence boosting road win here. BTB Consensus says: Cincinnati
WAS @ NYG: The Redskins battled the Patriots down to the wire last week. They beat the Giants quite handily 28-14 at home in week one, but can they also beat the Giants in New York? We all hope so, but we don't think so. BTB Consensus says: Giants
TEN @ IND: The Colts have the worst defense in the league, so stop it right now with all the Peyton Manning excuses. The Titans should literally run all over this dysfunctional organization. BTB Consensus says: Tennessee
SEA @ CHI: The Seahawks are an afterthought in most people's minds, but have quietly improved to 4-1 over their most recent games. Strangely, the Bears are still considered a playoff-caliber team, but have dropped all three games without Jay Cutler. They also have Roy Williams and Marion Barber, who have both cost them wins in the last weeks, and Sam Hurd was just arrested on drug charges. BTB Consensus says: Seattle
GB @ KC: If the Packers bring their A-game on offense, they could very well set some NFL records in Kansas City. BTB Consensus says: Green Bay
CAR @ HOU: The previously high-scoring Panthers again and again this year: They have led in 12 of 13 games this year, yet have a 4-9 record. Can Cam Newton help the Panthers put up more than 20 points against the Texans? The Texans have lost every game in which they've allowed more than 20 points. BTB Consensus says: Houstonoffense has sputtered of late, having lost two starting quarterbacks and . They haven't scored more than twenty points in their last three games, but have won them all on the strength of their defense and some last second offensive heroics against the Bengals last week. These last-second heroics are what have doomed the
MIA @ BUF: The Dolphins had been playing some pretty nice football recently, until the Eagles put an abrupt halt to all that last weekend and helped usher in the post-Sparano era. After storming to a 5-2 record, the Bills have dropped six straight. This divisional matchup is all about which team will end up in last place in the AFC North. BTB Consensus says: Miami
NO @ MIN: The Vikings are simply a mess. No quarterback, no running back, no stadium. No fixed date for a move to another city either. The Saints have locked up their division and are playing for a first-round bye. Who would you take in this matchup? BTB Consensus says: New Orleans
DET @ OAK: The Raiders started 4-2 with Jason Campbell but have struggled to 3-4 with Carson Palmer, who has thrown 13 interceptions in seven games. The Lions defense is 2nd in the league with 18 interceptions made. However, we all know about the fickle nature of interceptions. BTB Consensus says: Detroit
CLE @ ARI: The Browns, the concussed McCoy is likely out, but it isn't like he helped the Browns win a lot of games in the first place: the Browns are 1-5 over the last six games and have only managed to score 11.8 points per game in those games. BTB Consensus says: Arizonaare 5-1 over their last six games and have allowed only 17.5 points per game over the period. For the
NE @ DEN: New England's secondary has given up over 4,000 yards passing, the most by any team in the league. Thankfully for them, they face an offense that has produced the second lowest passing yardage in the league this year. BTB Consensus says: New England
NYJ @ PHI: The Eagles dismantled a previously red-hot Dolphins team last week, and played like the team they were supposed to be all along. Can they keep it up and play themselves out of a top ten draft pick? The Jets have put together three consecutive wins against the Bills, Redskins and Chiefs, who are all either last in their division or out of playoff contention - or both. Are they good enough to beat the resurgent Eagles? Meanwhile, Michael Vick has changed his tune: where he was sure that "You can't design a defense to stop me" just a few months ago, he now is "just trying to stay alive". The Eagles return to Planet Earth and start winning again. Coincidence? BTB Consensus says: Jets
BAL @ SD: The Chargers got their mojo going the last two weeks, outscoring the hapless Jaguars and Bills by a combined 75-24. The Ravens outscored the equally hapless Browns and Colts 48-20. The Ravens have no chance in a shootout, but if their third-ranked defense can limit Rivers, they'll look good. BTB Consensus says: Baltimore
PIT @ SF: Little known fact: The 49ers have the worst red zone offense in the league. They are 3-for-13 inside the 20-yard line since November and haven't had a red zone TD this month. As for the Steelers, while much has been made of Roethlisberger's "heroic" efforts against the Browns last week, it turns out he only has a grade one high ankle sprain, the mildest form possible. He'll play, but the Steelers are likely going to be coy about that because they'll try hard to make the injury sound much, much worse than it actually is. In a battle of the two top defenses in the league, the more efficient offense will likely carry the day. BTB Consensus says: Pittsburgh
Here are our entire week 15, 2011 picks.