NFL Standings, Playoff Picture, Week 13 TV Maps

The action this weekend starts with a Thursday Night game on the NFL Network; Philadelphia @ Seattle with Brad Nessler & Mike Mayock.  Sunday afternoon the CBS affiliates in Pittsburgh & Wheeling will show Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh with Jim Nantz & Phil Simms at 1pm.  CBS Youngstown will show Baltimore @ Cleveland with Bill Macatee & Steve Tasker at 4:05pm.  On Fox at 1pm Youngstown and Wheeling will show Atlanta @ Houston with Kenny Albert, Moose & Goose.  Fox Pittsburgh cannot show a 1pm game because the Steelers are at home on the other network.  However, they will come on the air promptly at 4pm and will be routed to the end of an early game at Fox’s discretion.  At 4:15pm all local Fox affiliates will show Green Bay @ the NY Giants with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.  And the NFL Red Zone Channel will offer its customary continuous live whip around the league all afternoon Sunday.  The Sunday Night game on NBC is a “flex” game this week.  Originally scheduled to show the winless Colts play the Patriots, NBC will instead show Detroit @ New Orleans with Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth.  The Monday Night game on ESPN is San Diego @ Jacksonville with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Jon Gruden.  As always this info from the506.com and subject to change.  Enjoy the games.

Here is the currently conference standings & playoff picture, starting in the AFC:

Playoff Position:

1. Houston (7-2) (conference record on New England & Baltimore [head-to-head tiebreaker on Pittsburgh for division lead])

2. New England (conference record on Baltimore)

3. Baltimore

4. Oakland (7-4)

5. Pittsburgh (8-3)

6. Cincinnati (7-4)

The wildcard matchups would be Cincinnati @ Baltimore and Pittsburgh @ Oakland.  Houston would play the lowest remaining seed and New England the highest seeded winner in the divisional playoffs.

In the Hunt

7. Denver (6-5) (conference record on New York & Tennessee)

8. Tennessee (higher winning percentage in games against opponents that will be common w/ New York by end of season)

9. New York

10. Buffalo (5-6)

Playing for 2012

11. Cleveland (4-7) (conference record on Kansas City [division record tiebreaker on San Diego])

12. Kansas City

13. San Diego

14. Jacksonville (3-8) (conference record on Miami)

15. Miami

16. Indianapolis (0-11) (mathematically eliminated)

Not much has changed since last week, with the exception of Houston’s quarterback situation becoming even more dire.  Having a 2 game lead on Tennessee with 5 games to go they should be okay if they can figure out a way to finish 3-2, and 2-3 might suffice.  Of course, a middling record like that will probably drop them below New England and the North winner and force them to play on wildcard weekend.  It still looks solid for 3 teams from the North to make the playoffs, but New York, Tennessee (if they don’t catch Houston), and Denver (if they don’t catch Oakland) could grab a spot instead if they can get to 10-6 (and certainly if they win out but don’t grab their division titles).  Buffalo is still alive if they win out, but obviously in a bad spot.  They got swept by the Jets and would therefore lose a critical tie for division rank.  They must win out and have the Jets lose twice down the stretch to have any realistic shot.

NFC

Playoff Position

1. Green Bay (11-0)

2. San Francisco (9-2)

3. New Orleans (8-3)

4. Dallas (7-4)

5. Atlanta (7-4) (head-to-head on Detroit [record against opponents that will be common with Chicago by end of season for division rank])

6. Detroit

The wildcard matchups would be Detroit @ New Orleans and Atlanta @ Dallas with Green Bay hosting the lowest seed and San Francisco the higher winning seed in the divisional playoffs.

You might notice that my standings differ from what you would find on NFL.com who is ranking Chicago ahead of Detroit in the division, and therefore putting the Bears 5th (they beat Atlanta) and the Lions out.  They are doing this because the Bears have a better conference record.  However, in breaking ties within a division, the 3rd tiebreaker after head-to-head (they split) and record in division games (they are both 2-2) is record against common opponents, as within a division all but 2 games are common opponents for everyone, whereas 4 games are non-conference.  However, NFL.com is not applying this tiebreaker yet in their standings.  For the record, the Lions are currently 5-2 against opponents that will be common with the Bears while Chicago is 5-3 against opponents common with the Lions (will be common by the end of the season).  For the record I also used this procedure in the AFC standings to break the Titans/Jets tie (for non-division ties, it comes after conference record in the list), even though Tennessee has not played the minimum of 4 common games yet, because they will by the end of the season.

In the Hunt

7. Chicago (see above)

8. New York (6-5)

Playing for 2012

9. Philadelphia (4-7) ([head-to-head tiebreaker for division rank on Washington] conference record on Tampa, conference winning percentage on Seattle [head-to-head tiebreaker on Arizona for division rank])

10. Washington (conference record drops Tampa from 3-way tie, then head-to-head on Seattle)

11. Seattle (conference record on Tampa)

12. Arizona (conference record on Tampa)

13. Tampa

14. Carolina (3-8)

15. Minnesota (2-9) (conference record on St. Louis) (mathematically eliminated)

16. St. Louis (mathematically eliminated)

It can be noted that if Dallas and New York both struggle down the stretch and Philadelphia won out they would win ties at 9-7, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.  It looks like Green Bay and San Francisco will get the byes.  The 49ers only have a one game lead on New Orleans, but aside from a home game with Pittsburgh they play only relatively weak division foes the rest of the season.  The Saints have a 1 game lead and tiebreaking advantage on Atlanta.  Dallas and New York still have both contests with each other remaining.  The 2-4 play from the Lions after their 5-0 start, a recent surge from Atlanta, and Jay Cutler’s injury combine to have the wildcard picture less clear than it used to look.  The Giants are also in the wildcard race, but its likely that if they play well enough to be in that race they would win the East; really the only way they are a wildcard is if they go 4-1 down the stretch, the loss being to Dallas, and therefore are 10-6 and behind a Cowboys team that also goes 4-1 down the stretch, or 3-2 with tiebreaking advantage.

Green Bay and San Francisco are the only teams that can mathematically clinch a playoff spot this weekend:

NFC

CLINCHED: None
ELIMINATED: Minnesota, St. Louis.

GREENBAY PACKERS
Green Bay clinches North Division title:
1) GB win + DET loss or tie
2) GB tie + CHI loss or tie + DET loss
3) CHI loss + DET loss

Green Bay clinches a playoff spot:
1) GB win
2) GB tie + CHI loss or tie
3) CHI loss
4) ATL loss
5) DET loss
6) NO loss + ATL tie

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
San Francisco clinches West Division title:
1) SF win or tie
2) SEA loss or tie + ARI loss or tie

AFC

CLINCHED: None
ELIMINATED: Indianapolis

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