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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
The Playoff Machine is back

By Dan Graziano

If the NFL season ended today, it would be the first time an NFL season ended on a Tuesday in the middle of November. It would also be the third year in a row in which only one NFC East team qualified for the playoffs -- the division-champion New York Giants would host the wild-card Chicago Bears in a first-round game.

However, as you know, each NFL team has six games left in its season, and a lot can happen to alter that playoff picture. For that reason, and because we know you're always looking for new and exciting ways to use the Internet to blow off work, we present The Playoff Machine.

This is ESPN's interactive tool that allows you to play out the rest of the season any way you want -- picking the results of each and every remaining game and seeing in real-time what impact those results have on the playoff field. See what has to happen for the Dallas Cowboys or the Washington Redskins to win the NFC East, or for one of the division's teams to make it as a wild card, or for the Philadelphia Eagles to ... Ah, sorry. Couldn't do that one with a straight face.

Anyway, it's fun, and you know you're going to spend the next month and a half playing with it to see what has to happen to get your favorite team into the postseason. So why not start now?