There's Always Hope: A breakdown of an unlikely scenario

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?

Outkast is back, ya'll.

That's something anyone can be thankful for.

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