NFL Playoff Picture Is Coming Into Focus
by Greg Melikov - 12/17/2008
It's getting down to the nitty-gritty in the National Football League as the race to the playoffs gets tighter in both conferences.
Two teams in the NFC have clinched their divisions: New York in the East and Arizona in the West. The Giants, according to Bodog, are 2-1 to take the conference. The Cardinals are 15-1.
When it comes to the Super Bowl, the Giants are 7-2 while Arizona is a whopping 40-1.
The 11-3 Panthers lead the NFC South and travel to New York on Sunday with the conference home field advantage at stake. If Carolina wins out, defeating New Orleans on the road Dec. 28, it plays at home throughout the playoffs.
The Panthers are 9-4 to make the Super Bowl and 11-2 to win it all.
Meanwhile, the odds experts believe the Lions won't win a game this season. The closest Detroit came to a win this year was its fifth consecutive loss at Minnesota, 12-10. The Lions played two rivals in their NFC North Division the toughest, losing at Chicago, 27-23, and again hosting the Vikings, 20-16.
The odds that Detroit goes 0-16 are 1-2 at SBG Global. If you wager that the Lions will capture at least one of their remaining two contests, the odds are 13-10.
Detroit's next two foes were eliminated from the playoff picture with recent losses. On Sunday, the Lions hosts New Orleans then they face Green Bay, a 45-28 winner earlier in '08.
If the Lions fail to defeat the Saints, they'll surpass the 1976 winless record of Tampa Bay. After the Bucs went 0-14, three teams were on the verge of joining them in the NFL Hall of Shame.
The '80 Saints lost their first 14 games before finishing 1-15. The '86 Colts started 0-13 before winning their next three. Miami last year went 0-13 before defeating Baltimore and wound up 1-15.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins must win at Kansas City on Sunday to tie the '63 Raiders top turnaround from a one-win season. Oakland was 1-13 in '62 before going 10-4 the next year.
Miami is just the third team since '70 to improve from one victory to a winning season. One team was the '97 Jets coached by Bill Parcells, who became executive vice president of football operations last December for the Dolphins.
Miami can win the AFC East by defeating the Jets on Dec. 28 at the Meadowlands. The Dolphins, according to Bodog, are 10-1 to capture the division while New York is 15-2.
It would be Miami's first AFC East title since '00 and the first playoff berth since '01. Odds that the Dolphins win the Super Bowl are 22-1 while the Jets are 20-1.
If the Dolphins go 11-5, they will tie the NFL record for the biggest single-season turnaround set by Indianapolis, 10, when the Colts went from 3-13 to 13-3 in '99.
Indianapolis leads wild-card contenders with a 10-4 record. The Colts, 5-1 to take the AFC championship, go to Jacksonville Thursday and close out the season Dec. 28 hosting Tennessee, which clinched the AFC South. The Titans, 2-1 to take the AFC, are 9-1 to capture the Super Bowl while the Colts are 10-1.
The 9-5 Ravens can grab the other wild-card berth if they defeat Dallas on the road Saturday and knock off visiting Jacksonville on Dec. 28. Baltimore is 10-1 to take the AFC and 30-1 to win the Super Bowl.
If Miami loses either of its remaining two game, they would need the Ravens to fall in both contests in order to make the playoffs.