NFL Playoff Picture & Week 15 TV Coverage Maps

The NFL Network has two games this weekend, starting on Thursday night with Jacksonville @ Atlanta, then on Saturday night Dallas @ Tampa Bay.  Both games at 8:30pm.  Sunday afternoon Fox has 1 game and all local affiliates are currently scheduled to show Carolina @ Houston with Ron Pitts and Charles Davis at 1pm.  At 1pm all local CBS affiliates will show Cincinnati @ St Louis with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf.  At 4:15pm Youngstown will show Cleveland @ Arizona with Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker while Pittsburgh and Wheeling will show New England @ Denver with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.  And as usual 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 Baltimore @ San Diego with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth and the Monday Night game on ESPN is Pittsburgh @ San Francisco with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Jon Gruden.  As always this info from the506.com.

And now for the playoff picture, starting in the AFC.  Just because I’m that bored, I am going to add projected exact start times and network and announcer assignments for the playoff games:

Playoffs as of Today

1. Houston (10-3) (conference record on New England & Baltimore [head-to-head on Pittsburgh for division rank]) (clinched division)

2. Baltimore (record against opponents common with New England)

3. New England

4. Denver (8-5)

5. Pittsburgh (10-3)

6. New York (8-5)

New York @ New England Saturday January 7th at 8pm on NBC (Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth) Pittsburgh @ Denver Sunday January 8th at 4:30pm on CBS (Jim Nantz & Phil Simms). Higher winning seed @ Baltimore Saturday January 14th at 8pm on CBS (Jim Nantz & Phil Simms) lower winning seed @ Houston Sunday January 15th at 1pm on CBS (Greg Gumbel & Dan Dierdorf)

In the Hunt

7. Tennessee (7-6) (conference games winning % on Cincinnati & Oakland)

8. Cincinnati (conference record on Oakland)

9. Oakland

10. San Diego (6-7)

Playing for 2012

11. Buffalo (5-8) (head-to-head on Kansas City) (mathematically eliminated)

12. Kansas City (mathematically eliminated)

13. Miami (4-9) (conference record on Jacksonville & Cleveland) (mathematically eliminated)

14. Cleveland (head-to-head on Jacksonville) (mathematically eliminated)

15. Jacksonville (mathematically eliminated)

16. Indianapolis (0-13) (mathematically eliminated)

All four teams at the top of the conference won last weekend.  Houston clinched their division and the other 3 are all very close to clinching their division (New England) or at least playoff spots.  What is essentially in play at this point is the West division and the 2nd wildcard.  The Jets have a 1 game lead and therefore obviously the spot is theirs if they win out.  However, if they should lose a game, particularly their game with Miami in Week 17, their tiebreaking is unsound and would then be at risk of having Tennessee, Cincinnati, or Oakland grab the spot.  In the West division the Broncos are in similarly good shape being 1 game up on the Raiders and 2 on the Chargers.  They can afford to lose either to the Pats this weekend or to the Bills on Christmas Eve so long as they win one of the two and win the Kansas City game Week 17 the division is theirs.  Losing to the Chiefs can let Oakland back in the race, and losing all 3 games down the stretch lets the always johnny-come-lately Chargers back into the race.  San Diego’s tiebreaking is not good, so they need to flat pass the Broncos to win the division.  They have better hope of winning a tiebreaker for the wildcard should it fall to 9-7, especially if the one of the two necessary Jets losses is the Miami game.

NFC

1. Green Bay (13-0) (clinched division & 1st round bye)

2. San Francisco (10-3) (conference record on New Orleans) (clinched division)

3. New Orleans (clinched playoff spot)

4. New York (head-to-head on Dallas for division)

5. Atlanta (8-5) (head-to-head on Detroit)

6. Detroit

Detroit @ New Orleans Saturday January 7th at 4:30pm on NBC (Tom Hammond & Mike Mayock) Atlanta @ New York Sunday January 8th at 1pm on Fox (Joe Buck & Troy Aikman).  Higher winner at San Francisco Saturday January 14th at 4:30pm on Fox (Kenny Albert, Moose, & Goose) lower winner at Green Bay Sunday January 15th at 4:30pm (Joe Buck & Troy Aikman).

In the Hunt

7. Chicago (7-6) (conference record on Dallas)

8. Dallas

9. Seattle (6-7) (head-to-head on Arizona)

10. Arizona

Alive Only Mathematically

11. Philadelphia (5-8)

Playing for 2012

12. Carolina (4-9) ([head-to-head on Tampa for division rank] head-to-head on Washington) (mathematically eliminated)

13. Washington (conference record on Tampa) (mathematically eliminated)

14. Tampa (mathematically eliminated)

15. Minnesota (2-11) (conference record on St. Louis) (mathematically eliminated)

16. St. Louis (mathematically eliminated)

San Francisco’s upset loss at Arizona gives the Saints a better chance at grabbing the 2nd first round bye, but they do need to finish ahead of the 49ers as it currently stands.  That result also keeps the Cardinals slim wild card chances alive; Seattle and Arizona play each one more time if the winner of that game wins out to 9-7 and has either Detroit or Atlanta lose two of three down the stretch they can steal a playoff spot.  Arizona would also need Chicago to lose twice to be at 8-8 or would need Chicago to be tied with Detroit & behind Detroit in the North division standings at 9-7.  For Chicago to have tiebreaking on Detroit they need the Lions to lose Week 17 to Green Bay while winning at Lambeau in Week 16, and also against the Vikings Week 17.  Or they could have the Lions stay ahead of them but have Atlanta lose a game as they beat the Falcons.  Since New York and Dallas play again Week 17 the best that 2nd place in the East can be (barring a tie) is 9-7; if New York is in the wildcard pool they’re not winning many tiebreakers, but Dallas could in the right combinations; in fact that is one potential complication for Seattle getting a wildcard.  To summarize, if things break right, the NFC could be a wild scramble for one or both wildcards.  Or Detroit and Atlanta could have good finishes and make the race boring.  In the East it can also be noted that if the eventual winner of the Week 17 rematch loses both games beforehand, and the eventual loser also loses at least one of the two preceding games, the Eagles can win the division at 8-8.

And now for the official clinching scenarios in Week 15 from NFL.com:

NFC

CLINCHED:
Green Bay Packers — North Division and first-round bye
San Francisco 49ers — West Division
New Orleans Saints — wild card spot

ELIMINATED:
Carolina, Minnesota, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington

GREEN BAY PACKERS
Green Bay clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs:
1) GB win or tie
2) SF loss or tie

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
New Orleans clinches South Division title:
1) NO win + ATL loss or tie
2) NO tie + ATL loss

AFC

CLINCHED:
Houston Texans — South Division

ELIMINATED:
Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami, Jacksonville

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
New England clinches East Division title:
1) NE win
2) NE tie + NYJ loss or tie
3) NYJ loss

New England clinches a wild card spot:
1) NE tie
2) CIN loss or tie + OAK loss or tie + TEN loss or tie

BALTIMORE RAVENS
Baltimore clinches a wild card spot:
1) BAL win or tie
2) NYJ loss + OAK loss or tie
3) NYJ loss + TEN loss or tie
4) OAK loss or tie + TEN loss or tie

PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Pittsburgh clinches a wild card spot:
1) PIT win or tie
2) OAK loss or tie
3) TEN loss or tie
4) DEN loss
5) NYJ loss

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