This is insane. We’re at Week 14 in the regular season, and the only team not in with a shot at the playoffs are the Cleveland Browns. At this stage in the game, the board is normally narrowed down to around 20 teams. Each conference largely whittled down to four clear winners, and six or so vying for the wild card spots. This whole season has been tumultuous for most teams, with quite a few giving up some surprising results. The AFC is still wide open, and hasn’t been this wide open for as far back as the eye can see. The Cleveland Browns are the only team that have absolutely no chance of getting into the playoff round at this stage. All they can do at this stage is try and disrupt the positioning of the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Steelers. It’s never fun to be the first team to be out of the running, but it’s not surprising that it’s the Browns. More surprising, perhaps, is that it took until Week 13 for a team to finally be mathematically knocked out of playoff contention. The question is, do they truly hold the keys to the kingdom for their remaining opponents? We’re seriously looking at a season where the winners of the NFC East could well walk through on 6-10. We could have division title holders that won 37.5% of their games during the regular season. The Carolina Panthers have dominated their way to the top of the league, with a relentless season pushing them to 12-0. Can they go for 16-0? Maybe, not that they’d need to, as they have already won the NFC South Division title, and skipped into the second round of the playoffs quite comfortably. Normally by this stage, most other teams would be comfortably sitting at the top of their divisions by at least 4 games advantage. 3 Divisions have teams on the top spot that could lose out to teams at the bottom, with the results of the next four games. 31 of the 32 teams in the league are mathematically capable of taking a shot at the playoffs, and this is with only 4 games left in the regular season. There hasn’t been a season this open since 2006, when Week 13 left us with 30 teams capable of reaching the playoffs, and before that there were 29 teams still in the running during week 14 of 2004. Back beyond that, you’re looking at less teams, and smaller seasons. You’re comparing apples and oranges. The Colts and the Texans are vying for first place in the AFC South, sitting at .500 going in to Week 14. The Titans, who are 3-9, could genuinely take the division title by the finish of the season. Looking back on the history of the playoffs, I genuinely can’t think of a year previously where it has been this open at this stage. The bookies are all over the place with their odds, and it really is going to come down to the wire on playoff spots. You could throw money at any team right now, and still get pretty low odds on them going into the playoffs. That doesn’t mean that the Super Bowl is open too. The stronger teams are pretty clear this year. The Broncos, Bengals, Patriots, Cardinals and, of course, the Panthers are all showing pretty strong this year. Everyone else just seems to be flapping. The next few weeks should cement a couple of divisions more, and make the playoffs much clearer, but there are still divisions that could go into week 17 with everything to play for. The AFC South and the NFC East are two that could result in some of the most exciting final weeks of regular season that have ever been played. As for the Browns, they can just look forward to next year’s draft. Hey – maybe they could find a new quarterback?