A quick recap to Week 15 and some playoff notes:
-The Saints lost a pivotal NFC showdown against the Dallas Cowboys. The Saints are now 13-1 and have already secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With the loss to Dallas, the Saints now may be inclined to rest some of their stars in Week 16 and Week 17. On the flip side, the Cowboys got a huge win that puts them right back into contention with the Eagles in the East, and it also gets the "December Monkey" off of their back.
-The Colts won the game-of-the-week against Jacksonville on a huge pass and catch from Manning to Wayne in the final minutes of the 4th quarter. The Colts remained undefeated and have the Jets and Bills left on their schedule. It will be interesting to see how things are played out with this Indianapolis team and how their players are used, or not used.
-The Vikings have secured the NFC-North with the Packers loss on Sunday. But, with their loss to Carolina, the Vikings have opened the door to the Eagles. If the Eagles win their final two games, and the Vikings lose one of their final two, the Eagles move into 2nd place in the NFC. The Vikings are banged up, but I wouldn't expect them to rest their players, they need to secure the bye and the home field divisional game. I think the Week 17 matchup against the Giants will be a very tough home game for the Vikings. If the Vikings were to lose a game, the Eagles win out, and if the Vikings advanced to play Philly they would be heading into trouble. Vikings head coach Brad Childress is 0-2 against his former team (Philly) and the Vikings haven't won in Philly since 1985.
-The Eagles host Denver this week and then travel to Dallas in Week 17. Week 17 could be a preview of round one of the playoffs; it is possible that both the Packers @ Cardinals and Eagles vs Cowboys matchups could also be the wild card round matchups. A few things can rearrange the games, but there is a good chance they could play each other on back to back weeks.
-If the Cowboys lose to Philly in Week 17 and the Giants win out, the Giants get the playoff birth as the Giants swept the Cowboys this season.
-The AFC Playoff picture is crazy. Two teams have clinched; the Chargers and Colts, and 10 other teams still have a chance to make it in. The Jets, Titans, Texans, and Steelers have the least likely chance to advance due to their conference records, but all of them plus Jacksonville, Denver, Baltimore, Miami, Cincinnati, and New England all can get in. The Patriots and Bengals just need to win a game, while the Broncos and Ravens have very high chances with one win as well.
-With wins this week, the Patriots, Dolphins, Ravens, Colts, and Chargers would all but eliminate 5 teams in the AFC hunt. I do not foresee an 8-8 team advancing, even though it is mathematically possible. Their is a possibility that as many as 8 teams in the AFC could finish 9-7.
-Quick Prediction- I think the Patriots and Bengals win this week and clinch a playoff birth. (The Patriots clinch the AFC-East division with a win this week). I think the Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, Titans, and Texans all finish 7-9 or 8-8. I think the Ravens and Broncos get into the playoffs and the Steelers are nipped in the end due to their poor conference record. Therefore, the Ravens would get the 6th seed, Broncos the 5th, Patriots the 4th, Bengals the 3rd, Chargers the 2nd, and the Colts have already locked up the #1 seed.