Final NFL Standings, Thoughts, and Playoff Schedule

Here are the final conference standings and random observations, starting with the AFC:

1. New England (12-4) (head to head over Denver)

2. Denver

3. Pittsburgh (11-5) (head to head over Indianapolis)

4. Indianapolis

5. Cincinnati (10-5-1)

6. Baltimore (10-6)

Planning for 2015

7. Houston (9-7) (conference record on Kansas City [head to head over San Diego for division rank] and Buffalo)

8. Kansas City (head to head over Buffalo)

9. San Diego (head to head over Buffalo)

10. Buffalo

11. Miami (8-8)

12. Cleveland (7-9)

13. New York (4-12)

14. Jacksonville (3-13) (record vs opponents common with Oakland)

15. Oakland

16. Tennessee (2-14)

Buffalo went 4-0 against the NFC North and 4-2 within their own division.  What ultimately caused them to miss the playoffs is they went only 1-5 in non-divisional conference games (the win was Cleveland).  Their losses included Houston, San Diego, and Kansas City.  If they win just one of those games they might have made the playoffs; winning one of them plus against Oakland Week 16 and they definitely would have.

Houston had the opposite problem hold them back.  They went 8-4 against the AFC but went just 1-3 against the NFC East.  No one thought much of them losing to the Giants when it happened back in Week 3, but if they had won that game they would have been in the playoffs.  For that matter, all you have to do is flip the outcome of their midseason Monday Night game in Pittsburgh and you would have the Texans in the playoffs as the #5 seed, the Bengals win the North, and the Ravens out.

San Diego ultimately of course rues the fact they lost both games to Kansas City.  The Chiefs were hurt by the fact they lost both “power match” games; Week 16 to Pittsburgh was a game changer for both teams.  But back in Week 1 they got pummeled at home by Tennessee, a fact that is both hard to swallow for Chiefs fans and hard to comprehend in hindsight.

Miami is the quintessential mediocre team.  Not only did they go 8-8, but they went 3-3 in the division, 7-7 in the 14 games common within the division, and 6-6 in conference games.

Denver and Indianapolis were the only two teams in the NFL to go 6-0 in division games.

Jacksonville went a paltry 3-13, but that was good enough to be 3rd place in their division, not last place, which means they have to play a playoff team, Baltimore, and a near-playoff team, San Diego, as their “power match” games in 2015.

And for the NFC:

1. Seattle (12-4) (conference record on Green Bay and Dallas)

2. Green Bay (conference record on Dallas)

3. Dallas

4. Carolina (7-8-1)

5. Arizona (11-5) (head to head over Detroit)

6. Detroit

Planning for 2015

7. Philadelphia (10-6)

8. San Francisco (8-8)

9. New Orleans (7-9) (head to head over Minnesota)

10. Minnesota

11. Atlanta (6-10) (conference record over St. Louis and New York)

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

13. St. Louis

14. Chicago (5-11)

15. Washington (4-12)

16. Tampa Bay (2-14)

Minnesota went 7-9, including 6-6 in the conference.  However, they were merely 1-5 in division games while being a strong 5-1 in non-division conference games.  They could have been a factor later into the season with a better division record.

The four NFC South teams ended up going 10-29-1 in games against teams outside the division.  Atlanta went 1-9, worse even than Tampa’s 2-8 record outside the division.  If the Falcons had managed even a still anemic 3-7 they would have been 8-8 overall and won the division.

Philadelphia has the horrible luck of being the only team in either conference to win 10 games and miss the playoffs.  The NFC East as a whole was 10 games under .500 in conference games, with both Dallas and Philadelphia taking all of their losses within the NFC while going 4-0 against the AFC South.  Dallas faces the potential of having to go to Seattle for the NFC Championship Game despite having the same record as the Seahawks and having won against them in the regular season.  The nature of multi-way tiebreaking works against the Cowboys.

Tampa was the only team in the NFL that lost all 6 of its division games.

The AFC went 33-30-1 against the NFC in 2014, which is remarkably close.

And now for the complete playoff schedule:

Saturday January 3rd:

Arizona @ Carolina 4:30pm ESPN

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh 8:15pm NBC

Sunday January 4th:

Cincinnati @ Indianapolis 1pm CBS

Detroit @ Dallas 4:30pm Fox

Saturday January 10th:

Lowest remaining AFC seed @ New England 4:30pm NBC

Lowest remaining NFC seed @ Seattle 8:15pm Fox

Sunday January 11th:

Higher remaining NFC seed @ Green Bay 1pm Fox

Higher remaining AFC seed @ Denver 4:30pm CBS

Sunday January 18th:

NFC Championship Game 3pm Fox

AFC Championship Game 6:30pm CBS

Sunday February 1st:

Super Bowl XLIX at Arizona 6:25pm NBC

Happy New Year!

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