Are you familiar with those Sudoku math puzzle thingies? (Of course you are! I can see one in the pocket of your shirt, just behind your laminated Lando Calrissian limited edition trading card.) Well, this time of year, the NFL p.r. machine churns out its own version of a math-geek puzzle in the form of an endlessly changing chart called Playoff Scenarios, that contains every complicated, and oftentimes bizarre, circumstance under which each team can still make the playoffs. (Except the Packers, of course.)
Chicago can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. CHI win + NYG loss + DAL loss, OR
2. CHI win + DAL-WASH tie + CAR loss + Kyle + Orton + goes + missing + in Iowa, OR
3. CHI win + NYG loss + DAL loss + no more games against teams above .500.
Minnesota can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. MIN win + CHI loss + NYG loss + DAL-WASH tie + CAR loss + a deep freeze that keeps all of the 10,000 lakes frozen till the offseason, OR
2. MIN win + 15 losses in rest of NFC + Paul Tagliabue apologizing (for anything) + a rabbit's foot + a new, full season of "Chappelle's Show" + my alma mater, the No. 2-ranked Miami of Ohio winning the NCAA hockey championship + a No. 1 album for K-Fed and a duet with Bono + fans in Green Bay and TV announcers finally being brave enough to admit that maybe, perhaps, Brett Favre is having a horrendous season that is only partly to blame on the talent around him.
Detroit can clinch a playoff berth:
1. DET - Matt Millen (who has lost more as a GM than the expansion traffic-barrel Bucs) - Joey Harrington + Ford ownership taken over by Honda + franchise transferred to CFL + Mooch lending the team some of his $11 million severance scratch to buy free agents + one decent wideout + a few lucky breaks against the Alouttes.