NFL Playoff Picture

November 19, 2013

With 6 weeks to go (where did the time go?) it seems overdue for me to revive this blog to start offering the NFL standings and a few thoughts on the playoff picture, including a nerdy prediction of not only the playoff matchups as currently constituted, but of the actual schedule.  I will start with the current standings in the very muddled and mediocre AFC.  Please keep in mind of course that division leaders are automatically the top 4 seeds, and also that breaking ties within a division are paramount; a team that is 3rd in its division cannot be ranked within the conference for wild card consideration ahead of the team that is 2nd in the same division for example.

1. Denver (9-1) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Kansas City for division lead)

2. Indianapolis (7-3) (conference record on New England)

3. New England

4. Cincinnati (7-4)

5. Kansas City (9-1)

6. New York (5-5) (division record tiebreaker on Miami)

In the Hunt

7. Miami

8. Oakland (4-6) ([head-to-head on San Diego for division rank] conference record on Tennessee and Pittsburgh [record against opponents common/will be common with Cleveland & Baltimore for division rank])

9. Tennessee (conference record drops San Diego from 3-way tie, then reevaluation head-to-head tiebreaker on Pittsburgh)

10. Pittsburgh (conference record on San Diego)

11. Cleveland ([record against opponents common/will be common with Baltimore to break division tie] conference record tiebreaker on San Diego)

12. Baltimore (conference record tiebreaker on San Diego)

13. San Diego

14. Buffalo (4-7)

Alive Only Mathematically

15. Houston (2-8)

16. Jacksonville (1-9)

While nothing is mathematically clinched and nothing can be clinched this weekend, it seems reasonable to surmise that the Patriots, Bengals, and Colts are in good to great shape to win their divisions, and that both Denver and Kansas City will be playoff teams.  Which then leaves a battle for seeding.  Denver will play New England this coming Sunday night in a game that will help sort this picture.  The Bengals are currently in 4th and have one more loss than both the Patriots and Colts, but they could draw even while on bye this weekend, and they beat the Patriots head-to-head earlier in the season.  The race for the 6th and final playoff spot currently looks like chaos theory with literally half the conference somewhere between 5-5 & 4-7.  Someone could get hot and change the equation, but it seems likely that the eventual playoff spot grabber will be 9-7, perhaps alone or in a clean two way tie, perhaps a messy multi-way tie that can, as evidenced above in the sorting of the gaggle of teams at 4-6, can be very difficult to sort.  The Jets are currently in playoff position, but they have literally been on a win/lose/win/lose pattern all season.  They have both games remaining with the Dolphins, who are also 5-5.  The Steelers have both games remaining with the Browns and beat the Ravens in their first encounter.  They beat the Jets and have the Dolphins left on their schedule.  On the negative, they have lost to both Tennessee and Oakland.  Cleveland probably wishes they hadn’t played any games with Brandon Weeden at quarterback, as their record gets better if you excise those contests.  The Ravens are scuffling but still capable of regaining their form.  The Titans seem to be faltering with Jake Locker lost for the season.  The Raiders are the only team in this tie with a winning record in conference games, a key factor in tiebreaking.  They are winless against the mediocre NFC East but only have the game with Dallas remaining.  Even amongst this mediocre group the Chargers are a hard team to figure, and with 5 of their losses being in conference they probably need to win their remaining conference games to have a realistic chance.  Back to the Jets; all 5 of their losses are conference games which doesn’t bode well for them in the long run either.  The Steelers and Browns, however, at 9-7 would be either a solid 7-5, or an excellent 8-4, in conference games so they are perhaps better positioned.  The next couple weeks could help thin the pack a bit and make it easier to see what we are looking at.  Or not.

Projected AFC Playoff Schedule

6. New York @ 3. New England Saturday January 4th at 8pm on NBC

5. Kansas City @ 4. Cincinnati Sunday January 5th at 1pm on CBS

Lowest wildcard winning seed @ 1. Denver Saturday January 11th at 8pm on CBS

Highest wilcard winning seed @ 2. Indianapolis Sunday January 12th at 1pm on CBS

Lower surviving seed @ Higher surviving seed Sunday January 19th at 3pm on CBS

And now for the NFC

1. Seattle (10-1)

2. New Orleans (8-2)

3. Detroit (6-4) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Chicago for division rank)

4. Philadelphia (6-5)

5. Carolina (7-3)

6. San Francisco (6-4) ([head-to-head on Arizona for division rank] conference record tiebreaker on Chicago)

In the Hunt

7. Arizona (head-to-head tiebreaker on Chicago)

8. Chicago

9. Dallas (5-5) (conference record tiebreaker on Green Bay)

10. Green Bay

11. New York (4-6) (conference record tiebreaker on St. Louis)

12. St. Louis

Alive Only Mathematically

13. Washington (3-7)

14. Tampa Bay (2-8) ([record against opponents common/will be common with Atlanta for division rank] conference record tiebreaker on Minnesota)

15. Atlanta (conference record on Minnesota

16. Minnesota

The division races are less settled in the NFC to be sure with the exception of Seattle’s safe 3.5 game lead in the West.  Philadelphia is tied in the loss column with Dallas, and the Cowboys can reclaim the top spot from the idle Eagles by beating New York this coming Sunday.  On the other hand, a Giants victory Sunday would have those 3 teams within a game of each other.  Philadelphia plays Dallas Week 17, an early guess as to who the Sunday Night game will be to close the regular season.  In the North the Lions have already swept the Bears, so they are in decent shape.  The Packers beat the Lions once, but seem to be stumbling with a 3rd string quarterback leading the way.  In the South the Saints are strong for a playoff spot at least, but with both games against Carolina still remaining, the division is up for grabs.  Carolina has a 1 game lead in the wildcard race, but that could disappear in a couple bad weeks.  The 49ers are hanging on for dear life right now with the Cardinals right here.  But Arizona has an 0-3 record in division games, and its very hard to make the playoffs with a losing division record.  The Bears are also in the mix but a head-to-head loss to Arizona could sandbag them.  Green Bay could easily factor if Aaron Rodgers can discount double check his way back onto the field by December.  It seems currently unlikely that 2nd place in the East will wind up in wildcard position, especially if someone in the 6/7/8 tie takes the 2nd wildcard out to a 10-6 mark as I currently suspect happens.

Projected NFC Playoff Schedule

6. San Francisco @ 3. Detroit Saturday January 4th at 4:30pm on NBC

5. Carolina @ 4. Philadelphia Sunday January 5th at 4:30pm on Fox

Lowest wildcard seed @ 1. Seattle Saturday January 11th at 4:30pm on Fox

Highest wildcard seed @ 2. New Orleans Sunday January 12th at 4:30pm on Fox

Lower surviving seed @ Higher surviving seed Sunday January 19th at 6:30pm on Fox

As always, it figures to be a fun final 6 weeks!

 

Final NFL Conference Standings & Playoff Schedule

December 31, 2012

Here are the final conference standings, starting in the AFC:

1. Denver (13-3)

2. New England (12-4) (head-to-head on Houston)

3. Houston

4. Baltimore (10-6) (division record on Cincinnati for division title)

5. Indianapolis (11-5)

6. Cincinnati (10-6)

7. Pittsburgh (8-8)

8. San Diego (7-9) (conference record on Miami)

9. Miami

10. Tennessee (6-10) (head-to-head on New York [record vs opponents common with Buffalo for division rank])

11. New York

12. Buffalo

13. Cleveland (5-11)

14. Oakland (4-12)

15. Jacksonville (2-14) (conference record on Kansas City)

16. Kansas City

Only six teams were above .500 in the conference (all with at least 10 wins) and those are the six teams that made the playoffs.  If Houston had won either of its last two games it would have gotten the #1 seed.  Instead, they lost both and dropped to the #3 seed where they will have to play a Bengals team that is essentially more rested because they treated today’s game with Baltimore as their bye week (and won anyway).  Denver started the year 2-3 before winning their final 11 games.  San Diego went 7-9 despite going 7-5 in conference games.

NFC:

1. Atlanta (13-3)

2. San Francisco (11-4-1)

3. Green Bay (11-5)

4. Washington (10-6)

5. Seattle (11-5)

6. Minnesota (10-6) (division record tiebreaker on Chicago)

7. Chicago

8. New York (9-7)

9. Dallas (8-8)

10. St. Louis (7-8-1)

11. Carolina (7-9) (record vs opponents common within the division drops Tampa from tie, then head-to-head on New Orleans)

12 New Orleans (head-to-head on Tampa)

13. Tampa

14. Arizona (5-11)

15. Detroit (4-12) (head-to-head on Philadelphia)

16. Philadelphia

Two teams miss the playoffs, including Chicago having the rare misfortune of missing despite winning 10 games.  Carolina was 2-8 (and 3-9) before rallying to end up 7-9 and end up 2nd in the division by winning the 3 way tie.  Atlanta went 13-3 by splitting their division games 3-3 and winning all 10 non-division games.  That could bode well since they won’t see any division foes in the playoffs.  St. Louis ends up 3rd in the West despite having the best division record for West teams (4-1-1); they went a mere 2-4 in non-division conference games and 1-3 against the AFC in a year that the NFC as a whole was +14 against the AFC.  Detroit was 4-4 before losing their last eight games, and Arizona was 4-0 before losing 11 of their last 12 games.  If the entire season had been played with regular refs (and assuming no other outcomes change), the 6 NFC playoff teams would have been the same, and Seattle would still have been seeded 5th on tiebreaking with Minnesota (but entered today with a chance to miss the playoffs with a loss), Green Bay would have been the #2 seed (and entered today with a chance at the #1 seed) and San Francisco would have had the division clinched before today but been locked into the #3 seed.

And the schedule for the playoffs:

Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC: Cincinnati @ Houston

Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC: Minnesota @ Green Bay

Sunday January 6th at 1pm on CBS: Indianapolis @ Baltimore

Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on Fox: Seattle @ Washington

Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS: Lowest AFC seed @ Denver

Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox: Higher NFC seed @ San Francisco

Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox: Lower NFC seed @ Atlanta

Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS: Higher AFC seed @ New England

Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox: NFC Championship Game

Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS: AFC Championship Game

Sunday February 3rd at 6:25pm on CBS: @ New Orleans Super Bowl XLVII

NFL Standings After Week 16

December 24, 2012

This past weekend’s action greatly simplified things in the AFC, with the only unsettled questions being the 1-4 seeding of the four division winners, who are remarkably exactly the same as last season.  Things are a bit more unsettled in the NFC.  An interesting tidbit that I have been tracking all season is that the NFC ended up +14 in games against the AFC this season (that is a final number as the Week 17 schedule is all division games).  Where those numbers really manifest themselves is not so much the record of the playoff teams but in the bottom 10 of both conferences; the NFC will have between 1-4 teams finish above .500 but miss the playoffs while no one will do that in the AFC.  Indeed, Chicago could win 10 games but miss.  Also, the worst two teams in the NFC have 4 wins, whereas two teams in the AFC have only two wins.  So below are the current standings followed by team-by-team scenario information (leaving ties out of the equation), starting in the AFC:

1. Houston <clinched division> (12-3) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Denver)

2. Denver <clinched division>

3. New England <clinched division> (11-4)

4. Baltimore <clinched division> (10-5)

5. Indianapolis <clinched wildcard> (10-5)

6. Cincinnati <clinched wildcard> (9-6)

Eliminated

7. Miami (7-8) (conference record tiebreaker on Pittsburgh)

8. Pittsburgh

9. San Diego (6-9) (head-to-head tiebreaker on New York)

10. New York

11. Cleveland (5-10) (conference record on Buffalo & Tennessee)

12. Tennessee (head-to-head on Buffalo)

13. Buffalo

14. Oakland (4-11)

15. Jacksonville (2-13) (conference record on Kansas City)

16. Kansas City

Houston clinches the #1 seed with a win, OR losses by both Denver and New England.  They clinch a bye seed with a loss by either Denver or New England.  Houston has head-to-head advantage on Denver, but not on New England.

Denver clinches a bye seed with a win OR with a New England loss.  They clinch the #1 seed with a win AND Houston loss.  Denver does not have the tiebreaker on either Houston or New England, having lost to both of them.

New England clinches the #1 seed with a win AND losses by both Houston and Denver.  They clinch a bye seed with a win AND a loss by Houston or Denver.  New England trails both by one game, but they have head-to-head tiebreaking on both of them.

Baltimore cannot get a bye seed.  However, if they win AND New England loses they can move up to the #3 seed as they do have head-to-head tiebreaking on the Patriots.  Basically, with only one game remaining, the Patriots can be seeded anywhere in the 1-4 range.

Indianapolis will be the #5 seed.  Even if they lose and Cincinnati wins Week 17, the Colts have clinched a better record against opponents common with the Bengals.

Cincinnati will be the #6 seed.

Pittsburgh was alive entering last week but was eliminated by their loss to the Bengals.  Of their 8 losses this season, five were by 3 points.

Miami was alive entering last week and won their game, but was still eliminated by the Bengals win.

Projected Playoff Schedule:

Indianapolis @ Baltimore Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC

Cincinnati @ New England Sunday January 6th at 1pm on CBS

Lower wildcard winner @ Houston Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS

Higher wildcard winner @ Denver Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS

Obviously changes in the seeds/matchups could change the schedule, especially wildcard weekend.  I am frankly not certain on that wildcard schedule even if those exact matchups remain; I am guessing that NBC will claim the Washington involved game to feature, with Chicago and New York currently out and Green Bay now in bye seed position (see below).  However, for all I know, they got the NFC East title game by making a deal with Fox to let them have the winner wildcard weekend.  In that case I would surmise that NBC would take the #3 seed or Baltimore involved game for 8pm Saturday.  I am more confident that, if Denver and New England remain #2 and #3 in either order, that the team seeded 2nd will be the late game on Sunday the 13th as if the #3 wins on wildcard weekend they visit the #2 the following weekend, and CBS would want to feature Brady v Manning matchup.

And now for the NFC:

1. Atlanta <clinched #1 seed> (13-2)

2. Green Bay <clinched division> (11-4)

3. San Francisco <clinched playoffs> (10-4-1)

4. Washington (9-6)

5. Seattle <clinched playoffs> (10-5)

6. Minnesota (9-6) (division record tiebreaker on Chicago)

In The Hunt

7. Chicago

8. Dallas (8-7) (division record tiebreaker on New York)

9. New York

Eliminated

10. St. Louis (7-7-1)

11. New Orleans (7-8)

12. Tampa (6-9) (head-to-head on Carolina)

13. Carolina

14. Arizona (5-10)

15. Detroit (4-11) (head-to-head on Philadelphia)

16. Philadelphia

Atlanta has clinched the #1 seed

Green Bay clinches a bye seed with a win OR losses by both San Francisco and Seattle.

San Fransisco has clinched a playoff spot and clinches the division with a win OR Seattle loss.  They clinch a bye seed with a win AND a Green Bay loss.

Washington clinches the division with a win or tie against Dallas.  Failing that, it is possible for them to get a wildcard if both Minnesota and Chicago lose as they would have division tiebreaker (if necessary) on New York and they would have head-to-head on the Vikings, who would be 2nd in the North in that scenario.  If the Redskins win the East they will be the #4 seed, and if they are a wildcard they would be the #6 seed.

Seattle has clinched a playoff spot and clinches the division with a win AND San Francisco loss.  If they win the West they can get a bye seed if Green Bay loses, thanks to head-to-head tiebreaker earned due to the NFL not having regular referees working at the beginning of the season.  If they are a wildcard it will be as the #5 seed, as even if they lose and Minnesota or Chicago wins, they have head-to-head tiebreaker on both the Vikings and the Bears.

Minnesota controls their destiny for making the playoffs.  If they win they are a wildcard and the #6 seed.  They could also make the playoffs with a loss if Chicago, New York, and Dallas all lose.  The losses by New York and Dallas are necessary as the Vikings would lose a tie with the Giants on conference record, and they also lose a tie with the Redskins (who are playing Dallas) on head-to-head.

Chicago can make the playoffs if they win and Minnesota loses its game with Green Bay.  They would be the #6 seed at 10-6 even if Seattle loses as they lost to the Seahawks head-to-head.  They cannot make the playoffs if they lose.

Dallas controls its destiny; a win and they win the East division and get the #4 seed on a superior record vs opponents common with the Redskins (if the Giants win they would also be tied but dropped on division record).  The Cowboys cannot be a wildcard.

New York does have a chance to make the playoffs, but they must win AND have losses by the Vikings, Bears, and Cowboys.  They need Dallas to lose in order to rise to 2nd in the East, then they would win the tie with the Vikings (who would be ahead of the Bears in the North division) on conference record.  Needing a total of 4 games to go the right way is not good odds.  However, it has happened before.  Off the top of my head I remember the 1989 Steelers needed a final week win plus 3 other teams losing in order to get in at 9-7, including the Bengals losing on Monday Night Football at Minnesota.  It all happened, and that Steelers team went on to win the wildcard game at Houston in overtime before losing to Denver.  So it’s possible.

St. Louis and New Orleans were alive last week and won their games but was eliminated by other results.

Projected Playoff Schedule:

Seattle @ Washington Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC

Minnesota @ San Francisco Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on Fox

Lower wildcard winner @ Atlanta Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox

Higher wildcard winner @ Green Bay Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox

Lower winner @ Higher winner Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox

As I explained above with the AFC schedule, I am not confident in the wildcard weekend predictions, and with a fluid seeding situation the actual matchups could also change.  I flipped the divisional weekend matchups with the change on who the #2 seed projects to be as the only reason I had Atlanta on Sunday is I had San Francisco Saturday because they cannot host a game at 1pm EST (10am PST).  But with Green Bay in that #2 slot it allows for what I think what Fox and the NFL would prefer anyhow; Atlanta on Saturday night.  Also, it would make a certain amount of sense to let the “frozen tundra” be a daylight game, although that has not been an overriding factor in playoff scheduling in recent years.

Below is the official clinching scenarios from nfl.com (including ties):

GREEN BAY PACKERS (at Minnesota Vikings)

Green Bay clinches a first-round bye:

1) GB win

2) GB tie + SF loss or tie

3) SF loss + SEA loss or tie

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

San Francisco clinches NFC West division:

1) SF win or tie

2) SEA loss or tie

San Francisco clinches a first-round bye:

1) SF win + GB loss or tie

2) SF tie + GB loss

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (vs. St. Louis Rams)

Seattle clinches NFC West division:

1) SEA win + SF loss

Seattle clinches a first-round bye:

1) SEA win + SF loss + GB loss

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (vs. Dallas Cowboys)

Washington clinches NFC East division:

1) WAS win or tie

Washington clinches a playoff berth:

1) CHI loss + MIN loss

DALLAS COWBOYS (at Redskins)

Dallas clinches NFC East division:

1) DAL win

NEW YORK GIANTS (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)

NY Giants clinch a playoff berth:

1) NYG win + DAL loss or tie + CHI loss + MIN loss

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (vs. Packers)

Minnesota clinches a playoff berth:

1) MIN win

2) MIN tie + CHI loss or tie

3) DAL loss or tie + NYG loss or tie + CHI loss

CHICAGO BEARS (at Detroit Lions)

Chicago clinches a playoff berth:

1) CHI win + MIN loss or tie

2) CHI tie + MIN loss

HOUSTON TEXANS (at Colts)

Houston clinches a first-round bye:

1) HOU win or tie

2) NE loss or tie

3) DEN loss

Houston clinches home-field advantage:

1) HOU win

2) HOU tie + DEN loss or tie

3) NE loss or tie + DEN loss

DENVER BRONCOS (vs. Kansas City Chiefs)

Denver clinches a first-round bye:

1) DEN win or tie

2) NE loss or tie

Denver clinches home-field advantage:

1) DEN win + HOU loss or tie

2) DEN tie + HOU loss

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (vs. Miami Dolphins)

New England clinches a first-round bye:

1) NE win + DEN loss

2) NE win + HOU loss

New England clinches home-field advantage:

1) NE win + DEN loss + HOU loss

NFL Picture After Week 15

December 18, 2012

We are down to two weeks remaining in the season.  At this point, the scenarios are simple enough that it is more possible to wrap the brain around them, so I am going to post the conference standings as I have been doing, then the analysis will be more extensive, basically explaining the scenarios for each team that is still alive.  Teams currently out of the playoffs in both conferences still control their destiny; indeed the teams currently seeded 8th & 9th in the NFC do so while the team seeded 6th does not.  I shall start in the AFC:

1. Houston <clinched division> (12-2)

2. Denver <clinched division> (11-3)

3. New England <clinched division> (10-4)

4. Baltimore <clinched playoffs> (9-5)

5. Indianapolis (9-5)

6. Cincinnati (8-6)

In The Hunt

7. Pittsburgh (7-7)

9. Miami (6-8)

Eliminated

8. New York (6-8) (division record on Miami for division rank)

10. Cleveland (5-9) (conference record drops Buffalo & Tennessee from tie, then head-to-head on San Diego)

11. San Diego (conference record on Buffalo & Tennessee

12. Tennessee (head-to-head on Buffalo)

13. Buffalo

14. Oakland (4-10)

15. Jacksonville (2-12) (conference record on Kansas City)

16. Kansas City

Houston has clinched the South Division and winning either of their remaining two games would clinch the #1 seed in the conference.

Denver has clinched the West Division and can clinch a 1st round bye with two wins, or one win and one New England loss.  The Patriots have head-to-head tiebreaking on Denver should the Broncos lose an extra game.  They need Houston to lose twice to get up to the #1 seed.

New England has clinched the East Division and could clinch a 1st round bye if they win one more game than Denver.  They could get the #1 seed if they win twice, Houston loses twice, and Denver loses at least once.

Baltimore has clinched a playoff spot.  They can clinch the division by winning either remaining game or if the Steelers lose Week 17 to Cleveland.  Basically, the Ravens need to avoid a 3 way tie at 9-7 between themselves, the Steelers, and the Bengals, as the Steelers would win that tie on head-to-head-to-head tiebreaker.  The Ravens cannot get a bye seed but they could move up to the #3 seed with more wins than the Patriots.

Indianapolis clinches a playoff spot if they win either of their remaining games or if the Steelers loses either remaining game or if they clinch strength of victory tiebreaker on Cincinnati (the Colts currently have a 2 win advantage).  The Colts nightmare scenario is described in the Ravens paragraph above: if the Ravens are in the wildcard pool at 9-7 the Colts lose that tie on conference record, then the tie for the 2nd wildcard with the Bengals would go down to strength of victory.  But seeing as how their Week 16 opponent is Kansas City, the Colts can save themselves unnecessary worry by winning that game.

The Bengals control their destiny for making the playoffs; if they beat the Steelers Sunday they’re in.  If they lose that game they can still get in if the Steelers lose to Cleveland Week 17 or if the Colts lose twice and the Bengals clinch the above described strength of victory tiebreaker on the Colts.  The Bengals can win the North if they win Sunday, the Ravens lose to the Giants Week 16, and they beat the Ravens Week 17.

The Steelers also control their destiny for making the playoffs.  If they win twice they are in.  Conversely, if they lose to the Bengals Sunday they are eliminated.  They could get in by beating the Bengals then losing to the Browns if Cincinnati loses to Baltimore and Miami is not 2nd in the AFC East at 8-8 (either the Dolphins lose a game or the Jets win both games).  The Jets are eliminated because they would lose a tie with the Steelers in that scenario on head-to-head.  The Steelers could still win the North if they win twice, the Ravens lose to the Giants, then the Bengals beat the Ravens.  In that event all 3 teams would be 9-7.  The Steelers would be 3-1 in the head-to-head-to-head matchup, whereas the Ravens would be 2-2 and the Bengals 1-3, thus giving the spot to the Steelers.

Miami is a longshot to make the playoffs, but they do still have a chance.  They must win both games, have the Steelers beat the Bengals then lose to Cleveland, have the Bengals lose to Baltimore, and they need the Jets to lose 1 of their remaining games so they can move up to 2nd in the East division.

Projected Playoff Schedule

Cincinnati @ New England Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC

Indianapolis @ Baltimore Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower wildcard winner @ Houston Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS

Higher wildcard winner @ Denver Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS

NFC

1. Atlanta <clinched division> (12-2)

2. San Francisco <clinched playoffs> (10-3-1)

3. Green Bay <clinched division> (10-4)

4. Washington (8-6)

5. Seattle (9-5)

6. Minnesota (8-6) ([division record tiebreaker on Chicago for division rank] conference record on Dallas [division record on New York for division rank])

In The Hunt

7. Chicago (head-to-head tiebreaker on Dallas)

8. Dallas

9. New York

10. St. Louis (6-7-1)

11. New Orleans (6-8) (head-to-head on Tampa

Eliminated

12. Tampa

13. Carolina (5-9) (conference record on Arizona)

14. Arizona

15. Detroit (4-10) (head-to-head on Philadelphia)

16. Philadelphia

Atlanta has clinched the South Division and can clinch the #1 seed by winning either of its remaining games.

San Francisco has clinched a playoff spot and can clinch the division by winning either of its remaining games.  They clinch a bye by winning both remaining games or matching Green Bay’s record in the last two games.  They can clinch the #1 seed if Atlanta loses both remaining games.

Green Bay has clinched the North Division and can clinch a bye seed by winning more games than San Francisco the last 2 weeks.  They can clinch the #1 seed if they win both games, Atlanta loses both, and the 49ers lose once.

Washington is in control of its destiny for winning the East.  If they win both remaining games they clinch the division.  They can also win the division by losing Week 16 but then beating Dallas Week 17 and the Giants losing once.  If they lose a game and do not win the division they could get a wildcard if the Vikings and Bears both lose a game and the Giants are either 1st or 3rd in the division.  If they lose twice they could get a wildcard if the Vikings, Bears, and Giants all lose twice.

Seattle clinches a wildcard by winning either of its remaining games (even if the 8-6 pack catches them at 10-6 they have solid tiebreakers).  They could also get a wildcard despite losing both remaining games unless two of the following 3 things happens: Chicago gets to 10-6, Minnesota gets to 10-6, New York is 2nd in the East at either 10-6 or 9-7.  Seattle can claim the West Division if they win both remaining games and the 49ers lose Week 17.

Minnesota is currently in the 6th seed position, but the Vikings do not control their destiny.  The Giants are currently mired in 3rd in the East.  However, the Redskins and Cowboys play each in Week 17, which means at least one of those teams will take a negative result.  If the Giants win both remaining games they will end up no worse than 2nd in the East, and if the Giants are 2nd at 10-6 they will win that tie with the Vikings for the playoff spot.  Therefore the Vikings need to either have the Giants lose a game or for Seattle to lose both remaining games.  The Vikings could get in at 9-7 if their loss is Week 16 to Houston if the Bears lose a game, the Redskins win the East, and the Giants are 3rd in the East or if the loss is to Green Bay Week 17, the Bears lose a game, the Redskins win the East, the Giants are 3rd in the East, and the Vikings clinch strength of victory tiebreaking on Dallas.  The Vikings can get in the playoffs at 8-8 if Washington wins the East, Chicago, Dallas, and New York all lose both remaining games, and St Louis and New Orleans loses a game.

Chicago also does not control their destiny.  They can make the playoffs if they win both remaining games, the Vikings lose a game, and New York loses a game.  They can make the playoffs at 9-7 if the Vikings lose both remaining games and Dallas is 2nd in the East at 9-7.

Dallas controls their destiny for winning the East; if they win both remaining games that would include beating Washington Week 17 and they have tiebreaker on the Giants.  It is unlikely therefore that the Cowboys would end up with a wildcard (taking a tie with the Redskins that leaves them 9-6-1 out of the equation) but it is possible if the Vikings & Bears lose both remaining games and the Giants lose a game, or if the Vikings lose Week 17 to Green Bay, Chicago loses once, the Cowboys clinch strength of victory tiebreaker on the Vikings, and the Giants lose once.  Dallas could win the division at 9-7 if the win is the Redskins game, Washington loses Week 16, and New York loses once.

New York controls their destiny for making the playoffs.  Two wins and they will move to 2nd in the East and they hold tiebreaking advantage on Minnesota or Chicago (would also on Seattle if the Seahawks finish 10-6).  They can make the playoffs at 9-7 if the loss is to Baltimore Week 16 and two of the following 3 things happen: Minnesota loses a game, Chicago loses a game, and/or Seattle loses twice.  New York cannot make the playoffs at 8-8 as they would be mired in 3rd in the division.  New York can win the division if they win both remaining games and whoever wins the Dallas v Washington game had previously lost their Week 16 game.

St Louis can make the playoffs if they win both remaining games, the Dallas v Washington loser had also lost Week 16, New York loses twice, Minnesota loses twice, and Chicago loses twice.  It can also be noted that Tampa could tie for the 6th seed at 8-8 if the Rams scenario happened plus the Rams lost a game.  However, they would not survive the tiebreakers.

For New Orleans to make the playoffs they must have the Cowboys, Giants, Vikings, and Bears all lose both games plus win both of their games.  In that scenario, Dallas and Minnesota are 2nd in their divisions and tied with New Orleans.  Conference record drops the Cowboys from the tie, then the Saints advance over Minnesota on record vs common opponents.

Projected Playoff Schedule

Seattle @ Washington Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC

Minnesota @ Green Bay Sunday January 6th at 1pm on Fox

Higher wildcard winner @ San Francisco Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox

Lower wildcard winner @ Atlanta Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox

And below are the official Week 16 playoff scenarios from nfl.com:

HOUSTON TEXANS (vs. Minnesota)
Houston clinches a first-round bye with:
1) HOU win or tie OR
2) NE loss or tie OR
3) DEN loss

Houston clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1) HOU win OR
2) HOU tie + DEN loss or tie OR
3) NE loss or tie + DEN loss

DENVER BRONCOS (vs. Cleveland)
Denver clinches a first-round bye with:
1) DEN win + NE loss or tie OR
2) DEN tie + NE loss

BALTIMORE RAVENS (vs. NY Giants)
Baltimore clinches AFC North division with:
1) BAL win OR
2) BAL tie + CIN loss or tie

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (at Kansas City)
Indianapolis clinches a playoff spot with:
1) IND win or tie OR
2) IND clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over CIN OR
3) PIT loss or tie

CINCINNATI BENGALS (at Pittsburgh)
Cincinnati clinches a playoff spot with:
1) CIN win

NFC

CLINCHED: Atlanta (South); Green Bay (North); San Francisco (playoff berth)

ATLANTA FALCONS (at Detroit)
Atlanta clinches a first-round bye with:
1) ATL win or tie OR
2) GB loss or tie OR
3) SF loss

Atlanta clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:
1) ATL win OR
2) ATL tie + SF loss or tie OR
3) GB loss or tie + SF loss

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (at Seattle)
San Francisco clinches NFC West division with:
1) SF win or tie

San Francisco clinches a first-round bye with:
1) SF win + GB loss or tie OR
2) SF tie + GB loss

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (at Philadelphia)
Washington clinches a playoff spot with:
1) WAS win + NYG loss + CHI loss + MIN loss

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (vs. San Francisco)
Seattle clinches a playoff spot with:
1) SEA win OR
2) CHI loss + MIN loss + DAL loss or tie + WAS tie
3) SEA tie + NYG loss + CHI loss or tie OR
4) SEA tie + NYG loss + MIN loss or tie OR
5) SEA tie + CHI loss or tie + MIN loss or tie OR
6) SEA tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + CHI loss or tie OR
7) SEA tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + MIN loss or tie OR
8) CHI loss + MIN loss + WAS loss OR

NEW YORK GIANTS (at Baltimore)
New York clinches a playoff spot with:
1) NYG win + CHI loss + MIN loss + DAL loss + WAS loss or tie OR
2) NYG win + CHI loss + MIN loss + WAS loss + DAL tie

NFL Standings & Playoff Picture

December 11, 2012

The current standings in the AFC:

1. Houston <clinched playoff spot> (11-2)

2. New England <clinched division> (10-3) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Denver)

3. Denver <clinched division>

4. Baltimore (9-4)

5. Indianapolis (9-4)

6. Pittsburgh (7-6) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Cincinnati)

In the Hunt

7. Cincinnati

8. New York (6-7)

Mathematically Alive

9. Cleveland (5-8) (conference record drops Buffalo [head-to-head on Miami for division ranking] from tie, then head-to-head on San Diego)

10. San Diego (conference record on Buffalo)

11. Buffalo

12. Miami

Eliminated

13. Tennessee (4-9)

14. Oakland (3-10)

15. Jacksonville (2-11) (conference record tiebreaker on Kansas City)

16. Kansas City

Houston’s loss to the Patriots means that, while the Texans would still be the #1 seed if they win out, they are also one stumble away from the Pats taking that spot.  The Pats also have the advantage on Denver for a bye seed.  The Colts still control their destiny for winning the South as they remarkably have both games remaining with the Texans.  They are also going to be a playoff team unless they lose out and have bad luck.  Despite taking a bad loss to the Chargers, the Steelers are in control of making the playoffs; if they beat the Bengals December 23rd they only have to win 1 of their other 2 games unless the Jets win out AND the Colts lose out.  The Jets are very much alive if they win 3 winnable games and get to 9-7, but their mid-September loss to the Steelers could hurt them.  They would be much better off if the Steelers lose a couple times and they are tied with the Bengals.  The Bengals would make the playoffs for sure if they win out; beating the Steelers and winning one other game is less certain to work than it is for Pittsburgh as the tiebreaking would be less clearly in their favor.  In fact, it would not be in their favor if they lost to Baltimore December 30th if the Steelers beat Cleveland that day.  The teams at 5-8 need a lot to happen, starting with the Bengals v Steelers game winner losing both of their other games.  Of the teams in that spot the Browns are in the best shape.  They can control handing the Steelers a loss, and they win any divisional ties at 8-8 (keep in mind that winning division ties are of paramount importance, as you cannot be slotted ahead of a team you are behind in your own division).  Also, they have a head-to-head win on San Diego.  The Chargers are in the next best shape of the teams that would at best be 8-8 because they would be 7-5 in the conference at that record, whereas the Bills and Dolphins would be merely 6-6 (the Jets, Steelers, and Bengals) would be 6-6 or worse in the conference at 8-8.

Projected Playoff Schedule

Indianapolis @ Baltimore Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC

Pittsburgh @ Denver Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower wildcard winner @ Houston Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS

Higher wildcard winner @ New England Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS

NFC

1. Atlanta <clinched division> (11-2)

2. San Francisco (9-3-1)

3. Green Bay (9-4)

4. New York (8-5)

5. Seattle (8-5) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Chicago)

6. Chicago

In the Hunt

7. Washington (7-6) ([head to head on Dallas for division rank] head-to-head on Minnesota)

8. Dallas (record vs opponents that will be common with Minnesota tiebreaker)

9. Minnesota

10. St. Louis (6-6-1)

Mathematically Alive

11. Tampa Bay (6-7)

12. New Orleans (5-8)

Eliminated

13. Carolina (4-9) (conference record tiebreaker [conference record percentage points on Detroit])

14. Detroit (conference record tiebreaker)

15. Arizona (head-to-head on Philadelphia)

16. Philadelphia

Despite losing Sunday Atlanta remains in strong position to eventually get the #1 seed, as they need only win 2 of their last 3 games.  Chicago continues to slide and is now in danger of dropping out of playoff position.  Washington, while still currently on the outside, remains in relatively good shape, as they hold relevant tiebreakers should the Giants slip up, or for the wildcard if the Bears or Seahawks take a stumble.  Dallas is also in good position to win the East should the Giants lose a game, as the Cowboys would hold tiebreaking if they beat the ‘Skins December 30th.  If the entire season had been played with the normal refs, the Packers would be in bye seed position, the Bears would be 5th, the Redskins would be in, and the Seahawks would be out of the playoffs.

Projected Playoff Schedule:

Chicago @ Green Bay Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC

Seattle @ New York Sunday January 6th at 1pm on Fox

Higher wildcard winner @ San Francisco Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox

Lower wildcard winner @ Atlanta Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox

And here are the official Week 15 clinching scenarios from nfl.com:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Atlanta clinches a first-round bye:

1) ATL win + GB loss or tie

2) ATL win + SF loss

3) ATL tie + GB loss

Atlanta clinches homefield advantage:

1) ATL win + GB loss or tie + SF loss

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

San Francisco clinches NFC West Division:

1) SF win + SEA loss

San Francisco clinches a playoff berth:

1) SF win

2) SF tie + DAL loss or tie + WAS loss or tie + MIN loss or tie

3) SF tie + DAL loss or tie + WAS loss or tie + GB-CHI does not end in tie

4) SF tie + DAL loss or tie + MIN loss or tie + CHI loss

5) SF tie + NYG loss + MIN loss or tie + CHI loss

6) MIN loss + DAL loss + WAS loss + SEA loss or tie

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Green Bay clinches NFC North Division:

1) GB win

Green Bay clinches a playoff berth:

1) GB tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + STL-MIN tie

2) GB tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + MIN loss + SF win or tie

3) GB tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + MIN loss + SEA does not tie

HOUSTON TEXANS

Houston clinches AFC South Division:

1) HOU win

Houston clinches a first-round bye:

1) HOU win + NE loss or tie + DEN loss

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore clinches AFC North Division:

1) BAL win

2) BAL tie + PIT loss or tie + CIN loss or tie

3) PIT loss + CIN loss

Baltimore clinches a playoff berth:

1) BAL tie

2) CIN loss or tie

3) PIT loss or tie

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Indianapolis clinches a playoff berth:

1) IND win

2) IND tie + CIN loss or tie

3) IND tie + PIT loss or tie

4) IND tie + BAL win

5) NYJ loss or tie + CIN loss

NFL Standings After Week 13

December 4, 2012

We are at the 3/4 pole as all teams have played 12 games and have 4 remaining.  Three teams in the AFC have clinched at least a playoff spot, while only one NFC team has done so.  Also, the large advantage that NFC teams have had in inter-conference play all season has greatly narrowed; the NFC is now only a collective +4 against the AFC this season.  Here are the standings, starting with the AFC:

1. Houston <clinched playoff spot> 11-1

2. New England <clinched division> 9-3 (conference record tiebreaking on Baltimore & Denver)

3. Baltimore (conference record tiebreaking on Denver)

4. Denver <clinched division>

5. Indianapolis 8-4

6. Pittsburgh 7-5 (head-to-head tiebreaker on Cincinnati)

In the Hunt

7. Cincinnati

8. New York 5-7 (division record tiebreaking on Buffalo & Miami)

9. Buffalo (head-to-head tiebreaker on Miami

10. Miami

Mathematically Alive

11. Cleveland 4-8 (conference record drops Tennessee from tiebreaking, then head-to-head on San Diego)

12. San Diego (head-to-head tiebreaker on Tennessee)

13. Tennessee

Eliminated

14. Oakland 3-9

15. Jacksonville 2-10 (conference record tiebreaking on Kansas City)

16. Kansas City

Projected Playoff Schedule:

Indianapolis @ Denver Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower wildcard winner @ Houston Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS

Higher wildcard winner @ New England Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS

The AFC picture in some ways became simplified this past week.  New England, Houston, and Denver all clinched postseason berths, and while Baltimore failed to do, the path to missing the playoffs would put Murphy’s Law to shame.  Also, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati went a long ways to ensuring they are the only teams in contention for the two wildcard spots.  The pack in the AFC East at 5-7 could make a run to 9-7, but even doing so is no guaranteed spot.  The teams at 4-8 are also still alive with some potential tiebreaking advantages if they get to 8-8, but at minimum their scenario involves whoever wins the December 23rd Bengals v Steelers game losing their other 3 games.  Back at the top of the standings Houston has a two game advantage on the other division leaders and could lock things up by beating the Patriots Monday night (this week with help or eventually).  Denver plays Baltimore in a couple weeks which could also go a long way to determining the other bye seed.  New England beat Denver but lost to Baltimore, so while they are the #2 seed right now, they do not completely control their destiny for a bye seed.

NFC

1. Atlanta <clinched division> 11-1

2. San Francisco 8-3-1

3. Green Bay 8-4 (head-to-head tiebreaker on Chicago for division lead)

4. New York 7-5

5. Chicago 8-4

6. Seattle 7-5

In the Hunt

7. Washington 6-6 ({head-to-head tiebreaker on Dallas for division rank} head-to-head-to-head tiebreaker on Minnesota & Tampa)

8. Dallas (conference record tiebreaker on Minnesota & Tampa)

9. Tampa (head-to-head tiebreaker on Minnesota)

10. Minnesota

11. St. Louis 5-6-1

12. New Orleans 5-7

Mathematically Alive

13. Detroit 4-8 (conference record tiebreaker on Arizona)

14. Arizona

Eliminated

15. Carolina (head-to-head on Philadelphia)

16. Philadelphia

Projected Playoff Schedule

Chicago @ New York Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC

Seattle @ Green Bay Sunday January 6th at 1pm on Fox

Higher wildcard winner @ San Francisco Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox

Lower wildcard winner @ Atlanta Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox

Atlanta clinched the division and has scenarios by which they could clinch the #1 seed, or at least a bye seed, this weekend.  San Francisco’s loss leaves them in peril of falling out of bye seed position with another loss.  Green Bay moved back into the lead in the North division, while New York missed an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the East.  Chicago remains in good shape to at least make the playoffs, and Seattle moved into clear possession of the 2nd wildcard.  Part of the leveling of the inter-conference slate is manifested in the fact that only 6 NFC teams are above .500 now and no one with a winning record would miss the playoffs.  The Redskins are on a major move upwards and their good tiebreaking has them at the head of the class of 6-6 teams; if they win one more game than the Giants, and not fewer than the Cowboys, down the stretch they should win the East.  Conversely the Vikings seem to be stumbling down the stretch, or perhaps being dealt a reality check as they cycle thru a series of games against the Bears and Packers.  If the NFL’s regular referees had been working since the beginning of the season, the Packers would be in bye seed position and Washington would be the #6 seed (the tiebreaking involving Seattle at 6-6 is somewhat different than described in conference standings line 7 above, but still works out to the Redskins advantage).

Here are the official playoff clinching scenarios for Week 14 from nfl.com:

HOUSTON TEXANS

Houston clinches AFC South division with:

1) HOU win + IND loss or tie OR

2) HOU tie + IND loss

Houston clinches a first-round bye with:

1) HOU win + IND loss or tie + BAL loss or tie OR

2) HOU win + IND loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Houston clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1) HOU win + IND loss or tie + BAL loss + DEN loss

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore clinches AFC North division with:

1) BAL win + PIT loss + CIN loss

Baltimore clinches a playoff spot with:

1) BAL win + PIT loss or tie OR

2) BAL win + CIN loss or tie OR

3) BAL tie + PIT loss + CIN loss

 NFC

ATLANTA FALCONS

Atlanta clinches a first-round bye with:

1) ATL win + CHI loss or tie + GB loss or tie OR

2) ATL win + SF loss OR

3) ATL tie + CHI loss + GB loss

Atlanta clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

1) ATL win + CHI loss or tie + GB loss or tie + SF loss

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

San Francisco clinches a playoff spot with:

1) SF win + DAL loss + MIN loss + TB loss + WAS loss + STL loss or tie OR

2) SF win + DAL loss + MIN loss + TB loss + WAS loss + SEA loss or tie

NFL Standings & Playoff Picture After Week 12

November 27, 2012

The current standings in the AFC:

1. Houston (10-1)

2. Baltimore (9-2)

3. New England (8-3) [head-to-head tiebreaker on Denver]

4. Denver

5. Indianapolis (7-4)

6. Pittsburgh (6-5) [head-to-head tiebreaker on Cincinnati]

In the Hunt

7. Cincinnati

8. Miami (5-6)

9. San Diego (4-7) [conference record tiebreaking on Tennessee & New York {head-to-head tiebreaking on Buffalo for division rank}]

10. New York [record against opponents that will be common with Tennessee]

11. Tennessee [conference record tiebreaking on Buffalo]

12. Buffalo

13. Cleveland (3-8) [record against opponents that will be common with Oakland]

14. Oakland

Mathematically Alive

15. Jacksonville (2-9)

Mathematically Eliminated

16. Kansas City (1-10)

Projected Playoff Schedule:

Indianapolis @ Denver Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC

Pittsburgh @ New England Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower wildcard winner @ Houston Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS

Higher wildcard winner @ Baltimore Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS

The four division leaders continue to separate themselves from the pack; all of them can clinch a playoff spot this weekend.  Pittsburgh’s loss to Cleveland drops them into a tie with the Bengals for the last playoff spot but both teams control their destiny with a rematch looming two days before Christmas.  There also remains a large pack of teams within two games of the 6th spot with Miami the only team that managed to distinguish themselves with a win last week.  A team to keep an eye on would be San Diego.  They don’t completely control their destiny, but their next two games are with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, followed by three winnable games at the end of the season.  And if they did get to 9-7 that would be an 8-4 conference record.  Norv Turner’s Chargers have made late season runs in the past, but this could also be the season the whole thing implodes, especially given the way they lost Sunday, allowing Ray Rice to convert a 4th & 29.

NFC

1. Atlanta (10-1)

2. San Francisco (8-2-1)

3. Chicago (8-3)

4. New York (7-4)

5. Green Bay (7-4)

6. Seattle (6-5) [conference record drops Tampa from tie, then head-to-head on Minnesota]

In the Hunt

7. Tampa [head-to-head on Minnesota]

8. Minnesota

9. Washington (5-6) [{head-to-head on Dallas for division rank} head-to-head on New Orleans

10. New Orleans [strength of victory tiebreaker on Dallas]

11. Dallas

12. St. Louis (4-6-1)

Mathematically Alive

13. Detroit (4-7) [conference record on Arizona]

14. Arizona

15. Carolina (3-8) [head-to-head tiebreaker on Philadelphia]

16. Philadelphia

Projected Playoff Schedule

Green Bay @ New York Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC

Seattle @ Chicago Sunday January 6th at 1pm on Fox

Higher wildcard survivor @ San Francisco Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox

Lower wildcard survivor @ Atlanta Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox

Chicago has moved back into 1st place in the North.  Washington greatly improved their standing with their Thanksgiving win over Dallas; if they can beat New York Monday night they move into one game of the division lead.  The 2nd wildcard remains a fluid situation; if New Orleans had won Sunday they would’ve been the 6th seed, but instead they are several spots out.  Minnesota lost to both Tampa and Seattle this season, but they still have both games remaining with the Packers, the first game being this Sunday.  Of course, that could also be a death knell should they lose those games.  If the regular refs had been working all season the Packers would be leading the North as the #3 seed and Tampa would be in the playoffs instead of Seattle.

And here are the various playoff clinching scenarios for this coming weekend:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Atlanta clinches NFC South Division:

1) ATL win + TB loss or tie

2) ATL tie + TB loss

Atlanta clinches a playoff berth:

1) ATL win + SEA loss or tie

2) ATL tie + SEA loss + MIN loss

HOUSTON TEXANS

Houston clinches a playoff berth:

1) HOU win or tie

2) MIA loss or tie + PIT loss or tie

3) MIA loss or tie + CIN loss or tie

4) PIT loss + CIN loss

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore clinches AFC North Division:

1) BAL win + CIN loss

Baltimore clinches a playoff berth:

1) BAL win

2) BAL tie + CIN loss + MIA loss or tie

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

New England clinches AFC East Division:

1) NE win

DENVER BRONCOS

Denver clinches AFC West Division:

1) DEN win

2) DEN tie + SD loss or tie

3) SD loss

NFL Playoff Picture After Week 11

November 20, 2012

Here are the standings in the AFC:

1. Houston (9-1)

2. Baltimore (8-2)

3. New England (7-3) [head-to-head tiebreaker on Denver]

4. Denver

5. Indianapolis (6-4) [conference record tiebreaker on Pittsburgh]

6. Pittsburgh

In the Hunt

7. Cincinnati (5-5)

8. San Diego (4-6) [conference record on Tennessee & New York {division record tiebreaking on Buffalo & Miami}]

9. New York [record against opponents that will be common with Tennessee]

10. Tennessee [head-to-head tiebreaker on Buffalo {head-to-head tiebreaker on Miami for division rank}]

11. Buffalo

12. Miami

Mathematically Alive

13. Oakland (3-7)

14. Cleveland (2-8)

Playing for 2013

15. Jacksonville (1-9) [conference record tiebreaker on Kansas City]

16. Kansas City

Projected Playoff Schedule:

Indianapolis @ Denver Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC

Pittsburgh @ New England Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower wildcard winner @ Houston Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS

Higher wildcard winner @ Baltimore Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS

This past weekend’s games served to solidify the top 4 seeds in the conference, with all division leaders having leads of 2 or 3 games on their closest pursuer.  Despite losses the Steelers and Colts maintain a lead on the pack for the wildcards, with only Cincinnati able to draw within one game.  There is a mess of teams at 4-6 with any of them having a puncher’s chance to warm up down the stretch and get to 9-7, which given that the AFC is a whole is -10 against the NFC, that could certainly be good enough to make the playoffs.

NFC

1. Atlanta (9-1)

2. San Francisco (7-2-1)

3. Green Bay (7-3) [head-to-head tiebreaker on Chicago for division lead]

4. New York (6-4)

5. Chicago (7-3)

6. Minnesota (6-4) [conference record tiebreaker on Seattle & Tampa]

In the Hunt

7. Seattle [conference record tiebreaker on Tampa]

8. Tampa

9. Dallas (5-5) [record against opponents that will be common with New Orleans]

10. New Orleans

11. Washington (4-6) [conference record tiebreaker on Detroit & Arizona

12. Detroit [conference record tiebreaker on Arizona]

13. Arizona

Mathematically Alive

14. St. Louis (3-6-1)

15. Philadelphia (3-7)

Playing for 2013

16. Carolina (2-8)

Projected Playoff Schedule

Chicago @ New York Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC

Minnesota @ Green Bay Sunday January 6th at 1pm on Fox

Higher wildcard survivor @ San Francisco Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox

Lower wildcard survivor @ Atlanta Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox

A couple playoff positions changed this week; the Packers winning coupled with the Bears losing moved Green Bay into the lead of the North, while the 49ers win over the Bears also moved them into the 2nd bye seed by a half game.  Also, Minnesota moved into a playoff spot by not playing, as Tampa’s win moved them into the tie with the Vikings and Seahawks.  As an illustration of how fluid these scenarios can be, this helped the Vikings as they used their better conference record to win this tie, instead of losing a head up tie with the Seahawks based on an on-field result.  The teams at 4-6 I have listed “in the hunt” but again given the NFC’s +10 margin in cross-conference games, these teams need to win out to 10-6 to have a realistic chance.  The Lions are in an especially weak spot given they are last in the 2 division by two full games with bad divisional tiebreakers.

And lastly, there is actually one team that can clinch a playoff spot this coming weekend; the Houston Texans.  Their scenarios to clinch this week are as follows:

Texans win + Titans loss or tie + Dolphins loss or tie + Jets loss or tie + Bengals loss + Chargers loss or tie OR

Texans win + Titans loss or tie + Dolphins loss or tie + Jets loss or tie + Bengals loss or tie + Steelers loss

Current NFL Standings After Week 10

November 13, 2012

In the coming weeks I hope to use this space to resume what I did last season, and offer the current standings in both the AFC and NFC 1-16 and any analysis that seems pertinent.  Please note that my methodology to break ties that go beyond conference record is to use record in common games even when what has been played thus far is less than the minimum of 4 games for both teams; I am using record against opponents that will be common by the end of the season assuming that at least 4 such games will be played (in a two team tie where the two teams are in different divisions and will NOT play each other the schedule rubric means that 5 such games will be played). As such, my rankings will at this point in the season sometimes differ from what is posted on NFL.com. It is also important to note that multi-team ties that involve multiple divisions AND two or more of the teams are from the same division, division ranking takes precedent.  That is, a team that is ranked for example 3rd in its division cannot be ranked higher than the team that is ranked 2nd in that division.  I will start in the AFC

Playoff Teams

1. Houston (8-1)

2. Baltimore (7-2)

3. New England (6-3) [head-to-head tiebreaker on Denver]

4. Denver

5. Indianapolis (6-3) [conference record tiebreaker on Pittsburgh]

6. Pittsburgh

In the Hunt

7. San Diego (4-5) [conference record on Miami and Cincinnati]

8. Miami [head-to-head on Cincinnati]

9. Cincinnati

10. Tennessee (4-6)

11. Oakland (3-6) [record against opponents that will be common by season's end with New York {head-to-head for divisional rank with Buffalo}]

12. New York [head-to-head on Buffalo]

13. Buffalo

Mathematically Alive

14. Cleveland (2-7)

15. Jacksonville (1-8) [conference record tiebreaker with Kansas City]

16. Kansas City

There are six teams in the conference with 6 or more wins, they are the current playoff teams, and they have at least a two game lead on the rest of the conference.  New England, Houston, and Denver also have two game leads in their division; Denver can grow that lead if they finish a sweep of San Diego this Sunday, while Baltimore will look to strengthen its lead on the North Sunday night against a Steeler team that may be missing its quarterback.  The Steelers, conversely, can take the division lead with a win.  The AFC as a whole is -9 against the NFC in cross-conference play, which means a team or two making the playoffs at 9-7 is a distinct possibility, a fact that certainly gives hope to the gaggle of teams currently with 3 or 4 wins.  That currently describes 7 teams; one would think that a couple of them might be able to put together a strong 2nd half and contend for a playoff spot.

NFC

1. Atlanta (8-1)

2. Chicago (7-2)

3. San Francisco (6-2-1)

4. New York (6-4)

5. Green Bay (6-3)

6. Seattle (6-4) [head to head tiebreaker on Minnesota]

In the Hunt

7. Minnesota

8. Tampa Bay (5-4)

9. New Orleans (4-5) [conference record drops Detroit & Arizona from tie, then strength of victory tiebreaker compared to Dallas]

10. Dallas [conference record on Detroit & Arizona

11. Detroit [conference record on Arizona]

12. Arizona

13. St. Louis (3-5-1)

14. Philadelphia (3-6) [division record tiebreaker on Washington]

15. Washington

Mathematically Alive

16. Carolina (2-7)

Given that the NFC is +9 against the AFC, it makes sense that there would be a couple teams above .500 that would currently miss the playoffs; Minnesota and Tampa would currently suffer that fate.  The tie San Francisco took last weekend makes this coming Monday’s game with the Bears very important; a loss means it’ll be a tough road to get a bye seed, and it would leave them a scant 1/2 game ahead of Seattle for the division.  If there had never been a referee lockout early in the season, the Packers would be leading the North and the Seahawks would be out of the playoffs but in the hunt, an impact I will try to keep an eye on as the season unfolds.  Atlanta is seemingly comfortable in the South despite last week’s loss to New Orleans, but everything else in the NFC is still a jumble.  Given again their +9 cross-conference record its very likely that 10-6 at minimum will be needed to make the playoffs, and even that might not be a guarantee, at least outside winning the East division.  I have the Eagles and Redskins listed as in the hunt (they play each other this Sunday) given that winning out gets them to 10-6, but I would consider either of them winning out to the playoffs unlikely at this juncture.

Why Penn St Can’t Drop Football

July 17, 2012

In light of the Freeh Report there has been a school of thought saying that Penn St should disband their football team for a season or two to cleanse the University.  That suggestion is forgetting about one key thing.  Money.  Quite simply, the Big Ten conference that Penn St is a member of is not going to let Penn St stop playing football.  Without the Nittany Lions the conference would only have 11 football playing members, which means they cannot play a conference championship game and make the millions of dollars that game generates in TV, merchandise, and game ticket revenue.  Also, it would deprive per season 4 member institutions from a home football game against a University that will fill the stadium at many 10s of dollars per seat, fill eateries, hotels, bars, etc., which again is money.  The only way Penn St can suspend football is if they are willing to compensate the Big Ten, or to risk getting booted from the conference.

Also, the revenue the football team generates will be helpful when it comes time to make the massive payments to the victims of Jerry Sandusky that the University will be making within the next handful of years.  That money will have to come from somewhere, and if the football team isn’t making a profit, it’ll have to come from other sources, which would almost certainly, albeit indirectly, lead to sharper increases in student tuition and fees.

So, while it may be crass, the economics of the fallout are unavoidable.  Penn St has no choice but to continue playing intercollegiate top division football.


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