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NFL playoff dreams are being realized and crushed

The leaves have fallen, the snow is coming, and the egg nog is about to be flowing. With the changing of seasons comes the intense fervor of playoff races across the NFL, as the campaign begins to get white-hot after two months of positions and posturing.

Of the 32 teams, here’s a breakdown of what we’re looking at entering Week 11.


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Teams that are definitely going to the NFL playoffs…

New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers

Teams that have no chance of going to the NFL playoffs…

New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders

Count up the teams in those two groups, and you’ll realize that 14 teams are fighting for five spots. Of course, some have a better path than others, like say the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans. Both teams are leading their respective divisions at 6-3, and should be able to get into the postseason by beating the inferior opponents left on their schedules.

Conversely, it’s tough to imaging the Atlanta Falcons making a run into January after losing to the Browns. If Atlanta was going to make the playoffs and be a factor deep into the year, it would have needed to beat Cleveland on the road to get to 5-4 before hosting the Dallas Cowboys this week.

Speaking of the upcoming slate, we are starting to see some quasi elimination games.


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On Thursday night, the loser of the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks can all but be crossed off for good. Seattle is 4-5 after losing two straight while Green Bay is 4-4-1. Whoever losses will be in very difficult position going into Week 12.

There is also a critical contest between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium come Sunday. Indianapolis has won three straight and sits at 4-5, while the Titans take their two-game winning streak on the road at 5-4. If the Colts can win, they would jump Tennessee in the standings and perhaps move to within a game of Houston for the top spot, depending on whether the Texans win in the nation’s capital this weekend.

Finally, what happened when the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens lock horns at M&T Bank Stadium? Cincinnati started the season hot but has tailed off considerably, now at 5-4. Baltimore has lost three straight and at 4-5, desperately has to win. Joe Flacco might not be able to start due to a hip injury, perhaps leading us to the Lamar Jackson Show. Either way, Baltimore wins or it’s all over.

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