This is the time of year for us all to be thankful. Thankful for the great people we have in our lives. Thankful for our opportunities. Thankful we don't root for the Jaguars.
Speaking of the Jaguars, even they have something to be thankful for.
They still have a chance.
No NFL team has been mathematically eliminated from a playoff berth just yet. None of the teams currently last in their division are out yet, either. This is something all football fans should be thankful for because it allows us dream some very big dreams.
Dreams such as: "Can every last-place team still make the playoffs, together?"
Fear not, dear football fan, for such a dream may end in fruition! While not every cellar-dweller could clinch their divisions simultaneously this year, they all could make the playoffs all at once.
Enter the ESPN NFL Playoff Machine.
This glorious anti-productivity device allows Joe Football Fan to create any and all possible playoff scenarios by adjusting the winners and losers of each remaining regular season game. Several wonderful scenarios are possible, but none so hopeful nor inspiring as each last place team rallying the troops, circling the wagons and clawing their way to the post-season.
The Scenario - AFC
1st Seed: Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) - AFC West Champion
2nd Seed: Cleveland Browns (9-7) - AFC North Champion
3rd Seed: Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9) - AFC South Champion
4th Seed: Buffalo Bills (7-9) - AFC East Champion
5th Seed: San Diego Chargers (10-6) - AFC Wildcard
6th Seed: Denver Broncos (10-6) - AFC Wildcard
The current bottom-feeders of the AFC are the Browns, Jaguars, Bills and Chargers. The Oakland Raiders have somehow won 4 games and hold a tiebreaker of the Chargers, but in this scenario, San Diego overcomes. So, how do we get here?
Cleveland: Defeat PIT, Lose to JAC, Defeat NE, Defeat CHI, Defeat NYJ, Defeat PIT
Cleveland doesn't even need to win every remaining game and allows Jacksonville to realize their playoff hopes. How generous, Cleveland. In return for their generosity, they get a first round bye as a 9-7 division champion. This is a thing that is possible. Please happen.
Jacksonville: Defeat HOU, Defeat CLE, Defeat HOU, Defeat BUF, Defeat TEN, Defeat IND
Oddly enough, Jacksonville has a manageable schedule the rest of the season, save the Week 17 matchup in Indianapolis (which would be for the division, of course). With this Jacksonville squad verging on historic in their ineptitude, this playoff berth would be the ultimate in underdog narrative. Their reward for winning out would be hosting one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Congratulations!
Buffalo: Lose to ATL, Defeat TB, Lose to JAC, Defeat MIA, Defeat NE
As long as Tom Terrific and New England suffer a 6 game end-of-season hangover from the final play of Monday Night Football, the Bills can help out fellow also-rans Atlanta and Jacksonville on their way to hosting a home playoff game. Not too shabby, E.J. Manuel.
San Diego: Defeat KC, Defeat CIN, Defeat NYG, Defeat DEN, Defeat OAK, Defeat KC
Anything that gets Mr. Excitement Philip Rivers into the playoffs is okay by me, universe.
The Scenario - NFC
1st Seed: Seattle Seahawks (12-4) - NFC West Champions
2nd Seed: Carolina Panthers (10-6) - NFC South Champions
3rd Seed: Minnesota Vikings (8-8) - NFC North Champions
4th Seed: Washington Redskins (8-8) - NFC East Champions
5th Seed: Saint Louis Rams (10-6) - NFC Wildcard
6th Seed: Atlanta Falcons (8-8) - NFC Wildcard
We've got the Vikings, Redskins, Rams and Falcons bringing up the rear in their respective divisions. That's right Tampa Bay fans, you're team is no longer the worst in the NFC! Rejoice, but not too much, because the Falcons will still make the playoffs. Not everyone gets a chance in the NFL, kids. This is America, after all.
Minnesota: Defeat GB, Defeat CHI, Defeat BAL, Defeat PHI, Defeat CIN, Defeat DET
One can only assume in this scenario, Adrian Peterson begins to run the entire Vikings offense from the Wildcat and still gets over 150 yards per game. Only this time, he proves what we all secretly think: he's actually the best quarterback currently on the Vikings roster.
Washington: Defeat SF, Defeat NYG, Defeat KC, Lose to ATL, Defeat DAL, Defeat NYG
Washington has been in a similar position before. Last season, they ended the season on a six game winning streak to take the division. Luckily for them, the NFC East is so bad they don't even have to win out to win the division. That could be either the saddest or greatest thing ever. It's probably both.
St. Louis: Defeat CHI, Defeat SF, Defeat ARZ, Defeat NO, Defeat TB, Defeat SEA
Saint Louis doesn't need to necessarily win out in this scenario. They could lose one of these games, finish at 9-7 and still remain the 5th seed. Of course, the one time they make the playoffs, Sam Bradford isn't there to make it happen.
Atlanta: Defeat NO, Defeat BUF, Defeat GB, Defeat WAS, Defeat SF, Defeat CAR
No Julio? No sweat. Gimpy Roddy? Please. Matty Lite? What else ya got? The Falcons can begin their quest to destiny tonight by beating the hated Saints. With a team this injury plagued, this averse to playing defense and this allergic to running the ball, what sparks the Falcons to claim the last playoff spot in the NFC?
That's something anyone can be thankful for.