NFL Picture with One Week to Go

Hopefully everyone had a Merry Christmas!  Below are the conference standings with quick run downs of what every team still alive for the playoffs is playing for this coming Sunday and what they need to have happen, starting in the AFC:

1. New England {clinched #1 seed} (12-3)

2. Denver {clinched division} (11-4)

3. Cincinnati {clinched playoff spot} (10-4-1)

4. Indianapolis {clinched division} (10-5)

5. Pittsburgh {clinched playoff spot} (10-5)

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

In the Hunt

7. Baltimore

8. Houston (8-7) (conference record tiebreaker on Kansas City & Miami [conference record on Buffalo for division rank])

9. Kansas City (head to head on Miami)

Playing for 2015

10. Miami

11. Buffalo

12. Cleveland (7-8)

13. New York (3-12) (conference record on Jacksonville & Oakland)

14. Jacksonville (record vs opponents common with Oakland)

15. Oakland

16. Tennessee (2-13)

New England, by virtue of its one game lead over and head to head victory against Denver, has clinched the #1 seed in the conference.  Denver will end up with the #2 seed unless they lose to Oakland and Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh, in which case the Bengals get the #2 seed.  If Denver loses and Pittsburgh wins there would be a tie for the #2 seed that could also involve Indianapolis.  A worse conference record would drop the Colts from the tie.  Ultimately, the Broncos would hold onto the #2 spot with a superior strength of victories tiebreaker over the Steelers.  Indianapolis, given the fact the Bengals/Steelers game will have an outcome, that they are currently 1/2 game behind the Bengals, and given that they lost to the Steelers, are locked into the #4 seed unless the Colts win and the North title game is tied.  In this scenario, the Colts at 11-5 would be essentially tied with the Bengals at 10-4-2 and the Colts win the head to head tiebreaker for the #3 seed.

The Bengals game at the Steelers, as referenced above, will decide who wins the North division.  The Bengals again as already mentioned would most likely be the #3 seed with a win, but they could be 2nd.  If they win the division by tying they would be the 4th or 3rd seed.  The loser of the division will be the #5 seed regardless of other outcomes: the Bengals at worst would be 1/2 game ahead of the Chargers and Ravens and the Steelers at worst would be tied with either/both the Chargers and Ravens and holding a better conference record.  The Steelers, if they win, will be the #3 seed.

The Chargers are in the crystal clear position of definitely being in the playoffs as the #6 seed if they beat Kansas City Sunday, and also definitely missing the playoffs if they lose.  A loss would put them behind the Chiefs in the division standings with no chance of surviving an “everyone loses” type of scenario.

For Baltimore to make the playoffs, given they lost to San Diego head to head, they need to win Sunday over Cleveland and have the Chargers lose.

Houston can make the playoffs, given their superior conference record, if they beat Jacksonville while the Chargers and Ravens both lose (their conference record would be 8-4 at 9-7 overall while no one else would be better than 7-5).

The Chiefs can make the playoffs if they win and both Baltimore and Houston lose.  With Houston out of the equation, Kansas City is ahead of San Diego with a head to head sweep, Baltimore has a worse conference record, and the Chiefs beat both Miami and Buffalo head to head.  That last fact, by the way, is why there is no scenario that Miami or Buffalo can make the playoffs even though they are also 8-7.

NFC

1. Seattle {clinched playoffs} (11-4) ([head to head on Arizona for division rank] conference record drops Dallas from 3-way tie, then record vs opponents common with Detroit [head to head tiebreaker on Green Bay])

2. Detroit {clinched playoffs} (conference record on Dallas)

3. Dallas {clinched division}

4. Carolina (6-8-1)

5. Green Bay {clinched playoffs} (11-5) (record vs opponents common with Arizona)

6. Arizona

Playing for 2015

7. Philadelphia (9-6)

8. San Francisco (7-8)

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

9. Atlanta (6-9) ([head to head on New Orleans for division rank] conference record on New York, Minnesota, & St. Louis)

Playing for 2015

10. New Orleans (conference record drops New York & St. Louis from 4 way tie, then head to head on Minnesota)

11. Minnesota (conference record on New York & St. Louis)

12. New York (head to head on St. Louis)

13. St. Louis

14. Chicago (5-10)

15. Washington (4-11)

16. Tampa Bay (2-13)

The winner of the Carolina at Atlanta game will “win” the South division and claim the #4 seed in the conference.  New Orleans is eliminated; even if they win and the Panthers tie Atlanta to finish 6-8-2, the same as being 7-9, Carolina then wins the tiebreaker with New Orleans by having a 1/2 game better division record.

We know the 5 playoff teams other than the South winner, but with all 5 teams being 11-4 entering the final day, its a bit chaotic to know how teams will end up seeded.  Dallas is the one in the group that has clinched their division, so their floor is the #3 seed, whereas the other 4 could fail to win their division and end up 5th or 6th.

Dallas beat Seattle head to head so they could be the #1 seed even if the Seahawks won Sunday, but only if the Packers v Lions game ended in a tie to prevent the North winner from being in the tie.  With the North winner in a 3-way tie Dallas’ inferior conference record drops them from the #1 consideration.  Furthermore, Seattle wins the #1 spot over Detroit on record vs common opponents or on Green Bay on head to head, so the Seahawks get the #1 spot, then the North winner gets #2 over Dallas on conference record, leaving the Cowboys the #3 seed.  Arizona winning the West would not help Dallas as the Cardinals also have a better division record.  Dallas can be the #2 seed if Seattle & Arizona both lose, or if Seattle loses while Arizona wins and the North game ends in a tie.

The winner of the North will do no worse than the #2 seed unless its Detroit at 11-4-1 and both Dallas along with at least one West team wins.  Green Bay can be the #1 seed if Seattle loses as they have the common opponents tiebreaker on Arizona.  Detroit lost head to head against Arizona and loses a common opponents tiebreaker to Seattle, so the Lions would need both West teams to lose to be the #1 seed.

Seattle clinches the #1 seed by winning Sunday against St. Louis unless Dallas wins and the North game ends in a tie, as their loss to the Cowboys is the only negative tiebreaker they have.  Arizona can be the #1 seed if they win and Seattle loses and Detroit wins the North.  The Cardinals are the #2 seed if they win, Seattle loses, and Green Bay wins the North.  If both the Seahawks and Cardinals lose, Seattle wins the division and would be the #3 seed.

As far as seeding the two wildcards 5th and 6th is concerned, Detroit would definitely be #6 if they lost.  The Packers would be #5 if Arizona loses but otherwise would be #6.  The 2nd place team in the West would be the #5 seed unless Arizona and Green Bay both lose, in which case the Cardinals are #6.  Also, the West loser is #6 if the North game ends in a tie and the West loser had lost their game.  And keep in mind, this is not a small matter as the #5 seed gets to play the South “winner” whereas the #6 seed has to play a 12-4 or 11-5 team on the road!

I’m not going to project the playoff schedule this week.  The current standings may very well not end up being the final standings.  Instead, I’ll make a few general predictions:

The Dallas involved wildcard game will be the Saturday 8pm game on NBC.  If Dallas gets a bye seed, then the Green Bay involved game will be.  If they are the two bye seeds, then it will be the Seattle involved game.  In any event, its going to be an NFC game on NBC wildcard weekend after they took an AFC game in Week 17.

The AFC wildcard game that does not involve Pittsburgh will be the game on ESPN.  The AFC wildcard game that involves the Steelers will be on CBS sometime Sunday, again given that the Steelers were taken off of the CBS menu for Week 17.

This year NBC gets a Divisional round game.  After taking an NFC game wildcard weekend it’ll be an AFC game in the divisional round.  My hunch is they’ll let CBS keep the New England involved game and that NBC would be more than happy to take a Denver involved game (will involve the Broncos if they’re the #2 seed or if they’re the #3 seed and win at home wildcard weekend).  This will probably get slotted before the wildcard games are actually played.

And below are the official clinching scenarios copy/pasted from NFL.com:

NFC

The Cowboys clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with: a win plus a Cardinals loss or tie and a LionsPackers tie.

Dallas clinches a first-round bye with:
1) a win plus a Seahawks loss or tie plus a Cardinals loss or tie
2) a win plus a LionsPackers tie
3) a tie plus a Seahawks loss and a Cardinals loss
4) a tie plus a Seahawks tie, a Cardinals loss or tie and LionsPackers does not end in a tie

The Lions clinch the NFC North with: a win or a tie.

The Lions clinch home-field advantage with:
1) a win plus a Seahawks loss or tie and a Cardinals loss or tie
2) a tie plus a Seahawks loss, a Cardinals loss and a Cowboys loss or tie

The Lions clinch a first-round bye with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus a Cowboys loss or tie
3) a tie plus a Seahawks loss and a Cardinals loss

The Packers clinch the NFC North and a first-round bye with a win. They clinch home-field with: a win and a Seahawks loss or tie.

The Seahawks clinch the NFC West with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus a Cardinals loss or tie
3) a Cardinals loss

The Seahawks clinch home-field advantage with:
1) a win plus LionsPackers game does not end in a tie
2) a win plus a Cowboys loss or tie
3) a tie plus a Cardinals loss or tie, a Cowboys loss and a LionsPackers tie

The Seahawks clinch a first-round bye with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus a Cardinals loss or tie and a Cowboys loss
3) a tie plus a Cardinals loss or tie and a LionsPackers tie

The Cardinals clinch NFC West with:
1) a win plus a Seahawks loss or tie
2) a tie plus a Seahawks loss

The Cardinals clinch home-field advantage with:
1) a win plus a Seahawks loss or tie and a Packers loss or tie
2) a tie plus a Seahawks loss, a Cowboys loss or tie and a PackersLions tie

The Cardinals clinch a first-round bye with:
1) a win plus a Seahawks loss or tie
2) a tie plus a Seahawks loss and a Cowboys loss or tie
3) a tie plus a Seahawks loss and a LionsPackers tie

he Panthers clinch NFC South with win over Falcons.

The Falcons clinch NFC South with win over Panthers.

AFC

Denver clinches a first-round bye with:
1) a win or tie
2) a Bengals loss
3) a Bengals tie plus Colts win

Bengals clinch AFC North with a win or tie in Week 17.

Cincinnati clinches first-round bye with:
1) a win plus a Broncos loss or tie
2) a tie plus a Broncos loss and a Colts loss or tie

Steelers clinch AFC North with win.

Chargers clinch playoff spot with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus a Ravens loss or tie

Ravens clinch playoff spot with:
1) a win plus a Chargers loss or tie
2) a tie plus a Chargers loss

The Chiefs clinch a playoff spot with: a win plus a Ravens loss and a Texans loss or tie.

The Texans clinch a playoff spot with: a win plus a Ravens loss and a Chargers loss.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: