NFL Picture at the 1/8th Pole

December 17, 2014

Some things are starting to come into focus with two weeks to go in the season, but many things are also still up in the air.  In the AFC we know 3 of the 4 division winners for certain with a still muddled, albeit stratified, wildcard picture.  In the NFC, we essentially have two teams each in the East, North, and West for a total of 5 spots while the mediocre South remains a 3 team race for a home game.  Below are the standings, analysis, clinching scenarios, and projected playoff schedule, starting in the AFC:

1. New England {clinched division} (11-3) (head to head on Denver)

2. Denver {clinched division}

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

4. Cincinnati (9-4-1)

5. Pittsburgh (9-5) (division record on Baltimore)

6. Baltimore

In the Hunt

7. Kansas City (8-6) ([head to head on San Diego for division rank] head to head on Buffalo)

8. San Diego (head to head on Buffalo)

9. Buffalo

10. Houston (7-7) (conference record on Miami & Cleveland)

11. Miami (conference record on Cleveland)

12. Cleveland

Playing for 2015

13. New York (3-11)

14. Tennessee (2-12) ([head to head on Jacksonville for division rank] conference record on Oakland)

15. Oakland (strength of victory tiebreaker on Jacksonville)

16. Jacksonville

The Patriots, Broncos, and Colts have all clinched their divisions, with the Patriots and Broncos having the inside track on getting the two byes into the divisional round.  The Patriots definitely get the #1 seed with two wins having beaten Denver head to head; the Broncos conversely can lose once and still be no worse than the #2 seed having beaten the Colts.

In the AFC North the Bengals and Steelers both control their destiny for winning the division; Baltimore can win the North by winning its last two games and having the Bengals or Steelers lose in Week 16, then beat the other in Week 17.  The Bengals make the playoffs by winning one of their last two.  The Steelers clinch a playoff spot if they beat Kansas City this coming Sunday.  If they lose to the Chiefs and beat the Bengals they would need the Bengals to have lost in Week 16 or the Ravens to lose once or the Chiefs to lose in Week 17 to the Chargers to make the playoffs at 10-6.  The Ravens get in the playoffs for sure with two wins; if they lose once down the stretch they need some help to get in as they would have at 10-6 a weak 6-6 conference record including losing to the Chargers.  All three have scenarios where they get in at 9-6-1 or 9-7 with considerable help.

Of the 8-6 teams Kansas City is in the best shape; they control their destiny.  If they get to 10-6 they would beat the Steelers, beat San Diego twice, have beaten Buffalo, and have a better conference record than Baltimore.  Their conference record also means they have ways they could get in at 9-7 but it takes a good deal of help.

San Diego gets in at 10-6 if Baltimore loses at least once.  They could also get in if Cincinnati or Pittsburgh loses twice.  Buffalo is in the weakest position because all 6 of their losses are conference games.  They need to win out, and have either one team in the North lose twice plus the Week 17 Kansas City v San Diego winner to have lost in Week 16 or for two North teams to lose out.

The teams at 7-7 are in a very weak position but can still get in with two wins and massive amounts of help.  Miami and Houston are in relatively better shape because of decent conference records.  For Cleveland, who at 9-7 would only be 5-7 in the conference they have to have the following all play out:

1. Win their two remaining games.

2. Baltimore loses Week 16 to Houston

3. Houston loses Week 17 to Jacksonville

4. San Diego loses to San Francisco in Week 16

5. Kansas City loses to Pittsburgh in Week 16

6. Buffalo loses its two remaining games

7. Miami loses one of its two remaining games (Minnesota & New York Jets)

8. The Week 17 game between San Diego and Kansas City ends in a tie.

And now for the NFC:

1. Arizona {clinched playoff spot} (11-3)

2. Detroit (10-4) ([head to head on Green Bay for division lead] conference record on Dallas)

3. Dallas

4. New Orleans (6-8)

5. Seattle (10-4) (head to head on Green Bay)

6. Green Bay

In the Hunt

7. Philadelphia (9-5)

Playing for 2015

8. San Francisco (7-7)

9. Minnesota (6-8) (head to head on St. Louis)

10. St Louis

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

11. Carolina (5-8-1)

12. Atlanta (5-9) (conference record on Chicago & New York)

Playing for 2015

13. Chicago (conference record on New York)

14. New York

15. Washington (3-11)

16. Tampa Bay (2-12)

Arizona is the only team in the conference that has clinched a playoff spot with two weeks to go.  They can clinch the West and the #1 seed by beating the Seahawks this Sunday night.  Of course, they will be starting their 3rd string quarterback against the defending champs.  If Seattle wins out they win the West as that will give them a season sweep of the Cardinals.

Detroit and Green Bay both control their destiny for winning the North as they play each other in Week 17 and both have scenarios where they can clinch a playoff spot this week.  The Lions, Packers, and Seahawks all make the playoffs at 11-5 if it is Dallas that wins the East as they are all in good tiebreaking shape vs Philadelphia, either on head to head or on conference record.  However, if Dallas goes 1-1 down the stretch and the Eagles win their last two games, the Eagles win the East and Dallas is in the wildcard mix at 11-5.  Dallas beat Seattle head to head.  Assuming the Cowboys are 11-5 because they lose to the Colts in Week 16 then beat Washington in Week 17, Detroit would still win a tie on conference record, but a Dallas v Green Bay tie would goto record vs common opponents wherein Dallas has a 4-1 vs 3-2 advantage.  So basically, for the Eagles to get in they probably need a Dallas loss so they can win the East.  Otherwise they need someone of the Packers, Lions, or Seahawks to lose twice for a wildcard.  Dallas’ best bet is to win twice and win the East, but they can be a wildcard over Seattle or over Green Bay (if the loss is the Colts game).  Dallas could also, if they win at Washington but lose to Indianapolis, be a team that posts an 8-0 road record but misses the playoffs!

And all of this shiftable math which applies to who would get the two wildcards also applies to who gets the bye seeds.  Dallas can be the #1 if they win out, Seattle wins out and the North is won at 11-5.  Seattle is the #1 seed if they win out and the North is won at 12-4 or the East is not won by Dallas at 12-4.  For the North winner to the be the #1 seed they would need the West winner to be 11-5, but they would be the #2 seed at 12-4 unless Dallas is the #1 seed and the West winner is Seattle at 12-4.  This chaotic math, of course, could end up applying to determining which wildcard is the #5 seed and gets to play the South winner and which wildcard is the #6 seed and has to play whichever division winner has the above mentioned math work against them into being the #3 seed.

As for the South division, a week after New Orleans and Atlanta became the first two 5-8 teams in NFL history to control their destiny for making the playoffs, Atlanta is now the first 5-9 team in NFL history to control their destiny.  They win the South at 7-9 as winning their last two games would be beating New Orleans and Carolina; they would post a 6-0 division record.  New Orleans of course wins the division if they win their last two games over Atlanta and Tampa and finishes 8-8.  Carolina can win the division at 7-8-1 if they win their last two games over Cleveland and Atlanta and New Orleans loses (or ties) one of its last two games.  The worst this division could be won at is by Carolina at 6-9-1.  For this to happen Carolina would have to lose to Cleveland but beat Atlanta, Atlanta beats New Orleans, and Tampa beats New Orleans.  In that case, the Panthers are 6-9-1 while the Saints and Falcons are 6-10.

And now for a projected playoffs schedule, based on current standings:

Saturday January 3rd:

Baltimore @ Indianapolis 4:30pm

Green Bay @ Dallas 8:15pm

Sunday January 4th

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati 1pm

Seattle @ New Orleans 4:30pm

Saturday January 10th:

Higher AFC wildcard winner @ Denver 4:30pm

Lower NFC wildcard winner @ Arizona 8:15pm

Sunday January 11th:

Higher NFC wildcard winner @ Detroit 1pm

Lower AFC wildcard winner @ New England 4:3opm

Sunday January 18th:

AFC Championship Game 3pm

NFC Championship Game 6:30pm

And here are the official Week 16 clinching scenarios, copy/pasted from NFL.com:

NFC

ELIMINATED: New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers

The Cardinals clinch NFC West and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with win over Seahawks.

The Lions clinch a playoff spot with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus an Eagles loss or tie
3) an Eagles loss

The Lions clinch the NFC North with: a win and a Packers loss.

The Lions clinch a first-round bye with a win, a Packers loss and a Cowboys loss.

The Cowboys clinch a playoff berth with: a win plus a Packers loss or tie plus a Lions loss or tie as long as both results don’t tie.

The Cowboys clinch the NFC East with:
1) a win plus an Eagles loss or tie
2) a tie plus an Eagles loss.

The Seahawks clinch a playoff spot with:
1) a win plus an Eagles loss or tie
2) a win plus a Lions loss or tie
3) a win plus a Packers loss or tie
4) a tie plus an Eagles loss
5) a tie plus a Lions loss and a Packers loss
6) or an Eagles loss and a Cowboys win or tie.

The Packers clinch a playoff spot with:
1) a win plus an Eagles loss or tie
2) a win plus a Cowboys loss or tie
3) a tie plus an Eagles loss
4) a tie plus an Eagles tie and a Cowboys win or tie
5) an Eagles loss plus a Cowboys win or tie.

The Saints clinch the NFC South with a win plus a Panthers loss.

AFC

ELIMINATED: Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets

The Patriots can clinch a first-round bye with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus a Colts loss or tie
3) a Colts loss plus a Bengals loss or tie, a Steelers loss or tie and a Ravens loss or tie.

The Patriots clinch home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with a win plus a Broncos loss.

The Broncos clinch a first-round bye with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus a Colts loss or tie.

The Bengals clinch a playoff spot with:
1) a win
2) a tie plus a Ravens loss
3) a tie plus a Chiefs loss or tie and a Chargers loss or tie
4) a Chiefs loss plus a Chargers loss and a Bills loss or tie.

The Bengals clinch the AFC North with a win plus a Steelers loss and a Ravens loss or tie.

The Steelers clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Chiefs.

The Ravens clinch a playoff spot with:
1) a win plus a Steelers loss and a Bengals loss
2) a win plus a Chiefs loss or tie and a Chargers loss or tie
3) or a tie plus a Chiefs loss, a Chargers loss and a Bills loss or tie.

Enjoy!

 

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NFL Picture with 3 Weeks To Go

December 10, 2014

Last weekend’s games shuffled the order of teams in the AFC wildcard race but didn’t really eliminate anyone.  A few teams have moved to the verge of clinching a playoff spot, finally.  Buckeyenewshawk cannot remember the last season no one was clinched with only 3 weeks to go.  Below are the standings and comments as usual.  New twists this week as I will also include a projected playoff schedule and at the end of the column a copy/paste job from NFL.com of the official clinching scenarios in Week 15.

AFC

1. New England (10-3) (head-to-head on Denver)

2. Denver

3. Indianapolis (9-4)

4. Cincinnati (8-4-1)

5. Pittsburgh (8-5) ([division record tiebreaker on Baltimore for division rank] conference record on San Diego)

6. San Diego (head-t0-head on Baltimore)

In the Hunt

7. Baltimore

8. Houston (7-6) (conference record on Miami [division record tiebreaker on Buffalo for division rank], Kansas City, and Cleveland

9. Miami (conference record tiebreaker on Kansas City {more wins} and Cleveland)

10. Kansas City (conference record tiebreaker on Buffalo and Cleveland

11. Buffalo (head-to-head tiebreaker on Cleveland)

12. Cleveland

Playing for 2015

13/14. New York/Tennessee (2-11) ([Tennessee has head-to-head tiebreaker on Jacksonville for division rank] conference record tiebreaker eliminates Oakland from tie {equal conference record teams play head-to-head in Week 15})

15. Oakland (strength of victory tiebreaker on Jacksonville)

16. Jacksonville

Pittsburgh made a significant move up in the conference standings due in equal parts them winning last week, Miami losing last week, and also Cleveland losing, thus breaking the 3-way tie in the AFC North.  As I wrote a couple weeks ago, the Steelers have tiebreaking on both Baltimore and Cleveland in a head-up situation, but the Ravens had it in the 3-way tie.  The Steelers are now in a position where they would win the North by winning out to 11-5.  If they lose once in their last three games they could still win the division or they could get a wildcard; there are scenarios where they could be left out at 10-6 but with a conference record of either 9-3 or 8-4 at 10-6 they would generally be in solid shape.

Cincinnati is currently leading the division and can obviously maintain that to the end of the season.  However if they fall out of 1st place they could quickly be in a precarious position for getting a wildcard.  If they go 10-4-2 or 10-5-1 they’re probably okay, but 9-6-1 (they play Cleveland, Denver, and Pittsburgh to finish) might not cut it.

Baltimore is currently on the outside at 8-5 with all 5 losses being in the conference, including to San Diego a couple weeks ago.  However a finishing schedule of Jacksonville, Houston, and Cleveland gives them a real chance of finishing 11-5, and its hard to imagine that not getting them in.  With a small amount of help it could win them the division.

Can Johnny Football lead the Browns to the playoffs?  Playing Cincinnati, Carolina, and Baltimore is not an easy path to 10-6 but it’s what Cleveland must do to make it in.  All 6 of their losses are in the conference, including to Buffalo and to Houston.  The one good thing is if they do win out they would finish ahead of Baltimore in the all important division standings; they would really need the Bengals to lose to Denver or Pittsburgh or for Pittsburgh to lose to Cincinnati so they can move up to 2nd.  They can still win the division with an even greater degree of help.

Miami is in decent shape of the 7-6 teams looking at tiebreaking, however they still have to play New England this coming Sunday, a probable 7th and crippling loss.  If they somehow upset the Patriots, however, their last 2 games are with Minnesota and the Jets, both imminently winnable.

Buffalo has 6 conference losses and they have to play Green Bay this weekend and a finish with New England looms.

Houston would be in great shape if they can beat the Colts this coming Sunday.  It would actually leave them alive for the division.  They would have the chance to beat the Ravens in Week 16.  If the Texans win out to 10-6 they really don’t need much help, as that would be a 9-3 conference record.  They would only need San Diego to lose once or for Cincinnati to lose twice or for Pittsburgh to lose a conference game and them to not be the only 2 teams at 10-6 or for Pittsburgh to lose twice.  That might sound like a lot, but it’s really not.

At the top of the conference, New England continues to have the inside track on the #1 seed with them and Denver looking good to win their divisions and get the bye seeds.  The Colts can clinch the division this Sunday by beating (or tying) Houston.

NFC

1. Arizona (10-3) (conference record on Green Bay)

2. Green Bay

3. Philadelphia (9-4) (head-to-head on Dallas)

4. Atlanta (5-8) (head-to-head on New Orleans)

5. Seattle (9-4) (conference record drops Dallas from 3-way tie, then record vs opponents common with Detroit)

6. Detroit (conference record on Dallas)

In the Hunt

7. Dallas

8. San Francisco (7-6)

Playing for 2015

9. Minnesota (6-7) (head-to-head on St. Louis

10. St. Louis

11/12. Chicago (5-8) (same conference record as New Orleans. Teams play each other this coming Sunday)

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

11/12. New Orleans

13. Carolina (4-8-1)

Playing for 2015

14. New York (4-9)

15. Washington (3-10)

16. Tampa (2-11)

The order of the 6 playoff teams has not really changed from last week.  Philadelphia’s position is a bit more perilous after losing to Seattle last Sunday.  They still win the division if they win out.  However, if the lose to Dallas this coming Sunday night they would drop out of the playoffs and their losses would be to Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco, and Green Bay, ie, the very teams they’re competing with.

Green Bay currently leads the North but only by one game and they lost their first encounter with Detroit, which means the Lions still control their destiny for winning the division should they win out including Week 17 in Lambeau.  Assuming this weekend’s game between the Cowboys and Eagles does not end in a tie, it looks like the Lions can guarantee a wildcard by winning against Chicago and Minnesota the next two weeks.

Arizona continues to lead the West and stabilized things by beating Kansas City last weekend.  A win against St. Louis tomorrow night all but guarantees a playoff spot for the Cardinals.  Seattle however also controls their destiny for winning the West having won the first encounter with the Cardinals.  The rematch is Week 16 on NBC.  San Francisco is still alive, but last week’s loss to Oakland was confounding, inexcusable, and crippling.  They must win out and have all but one of the following things happen: 1) The Philadelphia/Dallas loser loses at least one other game. 2) Detroit loses at least twice or Green Bay loses every remaining game. 3) Seattle loses at least one game besides to the 49ers this Sunday. 4) Arizona loses out.  Another possibility for the 49ers is that: 1) They win out. 2) Arizona loses out. 3) Seattle’s only win is against Arizona.  If my figuring is correct, this would let the 49ers win the division.

Minnesota and St. Louis are mathematically alive with 3 weeks remaining, but the best they can do is 9-7 and that’s just not going to cut it.  It’s especially long odds for the Vikings who cannot finish better than 3rd in their division and so need a tremendous amount of help from 2nd place in both the East and West collapsing.  The Rams at least can get up to 2nd in their division; Seattle losing out, San Francisco losing to either San Diego or Arizona, and the Philly/Dallas loser losing their last two games would potentially get the job done.

And then there is the NFC South.  Atlanta currently “leads” at 5-8.  The Falcons not only control their destiny, but they actually are playing a game they don’t need this coming Sunday (hosting Pittsburgh).  If the Falcons lose to the Steelers they would be 5-9 but knowing that if they beat the Saints and Panthers the final two weeks they definitely win the division.  However this Sunday’s game would give them room to lose to New Orleans and still recover from it.  The Saints also control their destiny; if they win out they would beat Atlanta in the process and be the only team standing at 8-8.  Like Atlanta, they also have scenarios where 7-9 or perhaps even 6-10 could get it done.  As for Carolina, at 4-8-1 they are in the thick of it.  If they could win out to 7-8-1 they would beat Atlanta in the process, so all they need of outside help is for New Orleans to lose at least once.  6-9-1 could work but takes more help.

Below is my projected playoff schedule based on current standings:

Saturday January 3rd:

Seattle @ Atlanta 4:30pm

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati 8:15pm

Sunday January 4th:

San Diego @ Indianapolis 1pm

Detroit @ Philadelphia 4:30pm

Saturday January 10th:

Higher AFC Wildcard winner @ Denver 4:30pm

Lower NFC Wildcard winner @ Arizona 8:15pm

Sunday January 11th:

Higher NFC Wildcard winner @ Green Bay 1pm

Lower AFC Wildcard winner @ New England 4:30pm

Sunday January 18th:

AFC Championship Game 3pm

NFC Championship Game 6:3opm

And here are the Week 15 clinching scenarios:

NFC

ELIMINATED: Giants, Redskins, Bears, Buccaneers

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Arizona clinches a playoff spot:

  1. ARI win + DAL/PHI game does not end in a tie
  2. ARI win + DET loss + ARI clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over GB
  3. ARI win + DET loss + GB win or tie

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Green Bay clinches a playoff spot:

  1. GB win + DAL loss + GB clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DAL

AFC

ELIMINATED: Oakland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, NY Jets

DENVER BRONCOS

Denver clinches AFC West division:

  1. DEN win or tie

Denver clinches a first-round bye:

  1. DEN win + IND loss + CIN loss + PIT loss or tie
  2. DEN win + IND loss + CIN loss + DEN clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over PIT

Denver clinches a playoff spot:

  1. MIA loss or tie + HOU loss or tie + CIN loss + PIT loss
  2. MIA loss or tie + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss + CLE loss or tie
  3. MIA loss or tie + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss + PIT win

New England Patriots

New England clinches AFC East division:

  1. NE win or tie

New England clinches a first round bye:

  1. NE win + IND loss + PIT loss or tie + CIN loss or tie
  2. NE win + IND loss + PIT loss or tie + DEN loss

New England clinches a playoff spot:

  1. BUF loss or tie + CIN loss + PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss or tie
  2. BUF loss or tie + CIN loss + PIT loss + KC loss or tie + SD loss
  3. BUF loss or tie + HOU loss or tie + KC loss or tie + SD loss + BAL loss

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Indianapolis clinches AFC South division:

  1. IND win or tie

Enjoy the games!

 

NFL Landscape at the 3/4 Pole

December 3, 2014

The NFL season, unbelievably, is already 75% complete.  Also, I didn’t fall asleep in my chair until 2am.  So, this would seem to be a good time to take a more exhaustive look at the playoff picture in both conferences.  Remarkably after Week 13 not only does no one yet have a playoff spot clinched, but there are not even any clinching scenarios for Week 14!  Usually by now we at least have a couple pace-setters that have a convoluted way to clinch, but everyone is still at least two weeks away.  As usual I’ll start with the AFC, which is the more muddled, especially when it comes to the wildcard picture and a 6 way tie for the 6th seed (as always please keep in mind that breaking ties within a division are of paramount importance; a team cannot be ranked higher in conference standings than a team that it is behind in division standings):

1. New England (9-3) (head to head tiebreaker on Denver)

2. Denver

3. Cincinnati (8-3-1)

4. Indianapolis (8-4)

5. San Diego (8-4)

6. Miami (7-5) ([division record tiebreaker on Buffalo for division rank] conference record tiebreaker on Kansas City & Baltimore [head to head to head tiebreaker on Pittsburgh & Cleveland for division rank])

In the Hunt

7. Kansas City (conference record tiebreaker on Buffalo & Baltimore)

8. Buffalo (conference record tiebreaker {more wins} on Baltimore)

9. Baltimore

10. Pittsburgh (common opponents record tiebreaker {more wins} on Cleveland)

11. Cleveland

12. Houston (6-6)

Playing for 2015

13/14. New York & Tennessee (2-10) (Tennessee has head to head tiebreaker on Jacksonville for division rank, New York also has tiebreaker on Jacksonville via conference record {more wins})

15. Jacksonville

16. Oakland (1-11)

Starting at the top New England is currently in decent shape to win their division, holding a two game lead on the Dolphins and Bills.  They then also are in good shape to be the #1 seed based on the fact they beat the other 3 current division leaders in head-to-head matchups.  Denver can hold off San Diego even if they lose the upcoming rematch based on a better division record (Chargers lost to Kansas City whereas the Broncos swept the Chiefs).  A Week 16 Monday Night trip to Cincinnati could help determine a bye seed.  The Colts are a game back having already lost to Denver and New England, so they would need help to get a bye seed.  However they are in solid shape to at least win their division.

A critical Week 14 game in the wildcard chase is Miami v Baltimore, as the winner of that game will obviously improve their standing.  The Dolphins have a game with New England looming also; if they were to end up 10-6 it would likely be with a strong 9-3 conference record.  Kansas City has critical remaining games with both San Diego and Pittsburgh.  San Diego has the advantage of being a game clear of the field, but they have a brutal remaining schedule that includes Denver, New England, and San Francisco along with that Chiefs game.

Pittsburgh is currently 10th in the conference, but they actually control their destiny for winning the division.  They still have both games left with the Bengals, so winning out would put Cincinnati a 1/2 game behind them.  And, while they are behind Baltimore right now, the fact is they would win a 2 way tie with either Baltimore or Cleveland at 11-5.  If the Steelers go 10-6 and don’t win the division they would still likely win a tie with either Baltimore or Cleveland.  A tie with San Diego could be problematic if one of the Chargers losses was the San Francisco game.  The Steelers have a stronger conference record than the Ravens or Browns because they have been doing more losing to the NFC South than they should.  A potential problem would be a tie with Miami; odds are that tie would come down to record against common opponents, and, in that eventuality, the Steelers loss to the lowly Jets, whom the Dolphins beat twice, could be crippling.

The Ravens are in better shape to go 11-5; that doesn’t guarantee them the division but almost certainly a wildcard.  After Miami their remaining games are Houston, Jacksonville, and Cleveland.  But at 10-6 they won’t be well-positioned for most tiebreakers, especially if the loss is Miami or Cleveland.  They just took a loss to San Diego and they would be 6-6 in the conference, the weakest possible mark for a 10-6 team.

Cleveland is in a similar predicament with all of their losses thus far being conference games.  They do get to play Carolina and can impact Baltimore by beating them Week 16, but they also still have games left with Indianapolis and Cincinnati.  Of course, the fact they play the Bengals once more still means they would not need much help to win the division should they win out to 11-5.  But at 10-6 they would also only be 6-6 in the conference including losses to Buffalo and Houston.

I haven’t mentioned Buffalo yet; at 7-5 they are in the thick of the race.  However, they also do not have a good conference record.  Also, they still have games remaining with New England, Denver, and Green Bay, so my hunch is they’ll end up around 8-8 and out of it.

Houston is also still alive 1 game back.  If they were to win out they would be 10-6 with a 9-3 conference record.  They have beaten Cleveland and would have to beat Baltimore to get to that mark.  They do have a loss to Pittsburgh.

And now for the NFC

1. Arizona (9-3) (conference record tiebreaker on Philadelphia & Green Bay)

2. Green Bay (head to head tiebreaker on Philadelphia)

3. Philadelphia

4. Atlanta (5-7) (head to head tiebreaker on New Orleans for division lead)

5. Seattle (8-4) (conference record drops Dallas from 3-way tie involving Detroit, then record against opponents common with Detroit to break 2-way tie)

6. Detroit (conference record tiebreaker on Dallas)

In the Hunt

7. Dallas

8. San Francisco (7-5)

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

9/10. New Orleans (5-7) (conference record drops St. Louis from tie involving Chicago [head to head tiebreaker on Minnesota for division rank]. Chicago & New Orleans have same conference record and will play each other later in season)

Playing for 2015

9/10. Chicago (conference record on St. Louis)

11. Minnesota (head to head tiebreaker on St. Louis

12. St. Louis

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

13. Carolina (3-8-1)

Playing for 2015

14. New York (3-9) (head to head on Washington)

15. Washington

16. Tampa Bay (2-10)

The top of the NFC is very tight with 3 division leaders sporting the same record and three 2nd place teams also sporting the identical records that trail their leader by 1 game.  Philadelphia has lost to both the Packers and Cardinals.  However, Arizona is now only leading the division by 1 game after losing the past two weeks.  In the last 4 weeks we still have one matchup each of Philadelphia v Dallas, Green Bay v Detroit, Arizona v Seattle, Arizona v San Francisco,  Seattle v San Francisco, and Philadelphia v Seattle to help either settle some things or muddle the picture even more.  At this moment Dallas would have the extreme bad luck of missing the playoffs at 8-4 which suggests its very possible that 10-6 will not be good enough for one or two teams in the NFC, maybe not even 11-5.

Then there is the NFC South.  Atlanta and New Orleans did pick up wins outside the division in Week 13, improving the division’s record in said games to 8-25-1.  The Saints and Falcons have a showdown remaining in Week 16 that will likely settle things.  Carolina still has the chance to win out to 7-8-1 having 3 division games and a home game with Cleveland remaining so they, at 3-8-1, are not completely out of it yet.

Enjoy the last month of the season!

Current NFL Standings

November 27, 2014

We are now at the point where everyone has taken their byes, so all teams have played the same number of games.  Sorry not much analysis this week as I fell asleep earlier this evening and now its 4am, but here are the standings, starting in the AFC:

1. New England (9-2)

2. Denver (8-3)

3. Cincinnati (7-3-1)

4. Indianapolis (7-4)

5. Kansas City (7-4) ([head to head tiebreaker on San Diego for division rank] conference record on Baltimore [head to head to head on Pittsburgh & Cleveland for division rank])

6. San Diego (conference record on Baltimore {teams play each other this coming Sunday})

In the Hunt

7. Baltimore

8. Pittsburgh (record vs common opponents on Cleveland)

9. Cleveland

10. Miami (6-5) (division record winning percentage on Buffalo)

11. Buffalo

12. Houston (5-6)

Playing for 2015

13 & 14. New York & Tennessee (2-9) (same conference record & they’ll play each other later this season for what its worth)

15. Jacksonville (1-10) (conference record on Oakland)

16. Oakland

At this juncture, excluding division leading Cincinnati and Indianapolis, the AFC has 7 teams with either 6 or 7 wins fighting for the two wildcard spots and also to get back into their division leads.  Pittsburgh currently has tiebreaking on either Baltimore or Cleveland, but the Ravens hold the 3-way tie because their two losses to Cincinnati don’t count against them in this tie.  All 4 of the Ravens losses are in the conference which hurts them in most tiebreaking situations, given that everyone else other than Buffalo and Cleveland in this group only have 3 conference losses.  Buffalo plays Cleveland this weekend and Baltimore plays San Diego, so that could help sort things a little bit (or make it more jumbled).  In the North the Bengals currently lead by 1/2 game but they still have both games with Pittsburgh and one with Cleveland remaining.  Bottom line is odds are 10-6 will be what it takes to make the playoffs with the possibility that someone gets left out at that record, or that 9-6-1 or 9-7 gets someone in.

NFC

1. Arizona (9-2)

2. Green Bay (8-3) (head to head on Philadelphia [division record tiebreaker on Dallas])

3. Philadelphia

4. Atlanta (4-7) (head to head on New Orleans)

5. Dallas (8-3)

6. Seattle (7-4) ([division record on San Francisco] record vs opponents common with Detroit)

In the Hunt

7. Detroit (conference record on San Francisco

8. San Francisco

9. Chicago (5-6)

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

10. New Orleans (conference record on Minnesota & St. Louis)

Playing for 2015

11. Minnesota (head to head on St. Louis)

12. St. Louis

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

13. Carolina (3-7-1)

Playing for 2015

14. New York (3-8) (head to head on Washington)

15. Washington

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

16. Tampa Bay (2-9)

The NFC South is currently 6-24-1 in games outside the division.  But someone will get the 4 seed from this group.  My assumption is someone will get to 7-9 ultimately, but they all have loseable non-division games left.  Carolina at 3-7-1 might almost be in the best shape as they only have one AFC game left and still have 3 division games plus Minnesota this weekend, so maybe they can get to 7-8-1.  With Philadelphia playing Dallas and Seattle playing San Francisco on Thanksgiving, then again in a couple weeks, this might help start sorting out the good teams in the conference.

 

Updated NFL Standings

November 20, 2014

Maybe a more complete set of analysis after Week 12 action goes in the books, but here are the current standings (as I type the KC v Oakland game is in the 3rd quarter, the result of which will change the AFC playoff standings) starting in the AFC:

1. New England (8-2)

2. Denver (7-3) (head to head tiebreaker on Kansas City for division lead)

3. Cincinnati (6-3-1)

4. Indianapolis (6-4)

5. Kansas City

6. Pittsburgh (7-4)

In the Hunt

7. Miami (6-4) (conference record on San Diego & Baltimore [head to head on Cleveland for division rank])

8. San Diego (conference record on Baltimore {teams play each other later in season})

9. Baltimore

10. Cleveland

11. Houston (5-5) (head to head on Buffalo)

12. Buffalo

Playing for 2015

13. New York (2-8) (conference record on Tennessee {teams play each other later in season})

14. Tennessee

15. Jacksonville (1-9)

16. Oakland (0-10)

The Miami at Denver game this Sunday is critical; either the Broncos separate like we expect them to, or Miami improves to 7-4 and the Broncos drop to that record, which figures to be playoff spots, maybe even a team or two on the outside looking in, at the end of the weekend.

NFC

1. Arizona (9-1)

2. Detroit (7-3) ([head to head on Green Bay for division] conference record on Philadelphia [division record tiebreaker on Dallas for division])

3. Philadelphia

4. Atlanta (4-6) (head to head tiebreaker on New Orleans for division)

5. Green Bay (7-3) (conference record on Dallas)

6. Dallas

In the Hunt

7. San Francisco (6-4) (division record on Seattle)

8. Seattle

9. Chicago (4-6) ([head to head tiebreaker with Minnesota for division rank] conference record tiebreaker on St. Louis & 1 fewer conference loss than New Orleans {teams will play later in season})

10. New Orleans (head to head on Minnesota for conference rank after conference record drops St. Louis from 3 way tie {“In the Hunt NFC South Edition”})

11. Minnesota (conference record on St. Louis)

12. St. Louis

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

13. Carolina (3-7-1)

Playing for 2015

14. New York (3-7)  (head to head tiebreaker on Washington)

15. Washington

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

16. Tampa Bay (2-8)

The conference standings below the playoff cut read choppy trying to differentiate between mediocre & probably hopeless teams from teams that are mediocre with the good fortune of being in the South division.  Atlanta is 0-6 in non-division games but lead because they are undefeated in division games.  If they go 6-0 in the division they’ll probably need at least 1 non-division win as I assume someone will end up at least 7-9, maybe even 8-8.  Atlanta still has their home games with Cleveland and Pittsburgh, New Orleans has a home game with Baltimore and a game at Pittsburgh left.  Carolina is also still alive but probably can only afford 1 more loss; 2 would ultimate leave them 6-9-1 and I really hope that isn’t good enough!  There are a lot of teams with 6 or 7 wins in the other divisions and there won’t be room for all of them in the playoffs; the NFC could very conceivably have a 10-6 team or two miss.

With 5 weeks in which there are cross-conference games remaining, I find it interesting to note that the AFC and NFC are so far even against each other.  Because of the Bengals/Panthers tie, they won’t end up flat even unless there is a 2nd tie within the remaining games.

Current NFL Standings

November 14, 2014

Okay its that time of year again where I take the time each week to provide the current NFL conference standings and some quick thoughts.  I’ll start in the AFC:

1. New England (7-2) (head-to-head on Denver)

2. Denver

3. Indianapolis (6-3) (conference record on Cleveland [play each other Week 14])

4. Cleveland

5. Kansas City (6-3)

6. Cincinnati (5-3-1)

In the Hunt

7. Miami (6-4) (conference record on Pittsburgh [division record tiebreaker on Baltimore])

8. Pittsburgh

9. Baltimore

10. San Diego (5-4)

11. Buffalo (5-5)

12. Houston (4-5)

Playing for 2015

13. Tennessee (2-7)

14. New York (2-8)

15. Jacksonville (1-9)

16. Oakland (0-9)

Except for the South, at least 3 teams are still very alive in each division at this juncture.  The North is crazy close, with 1/2 game separating the four teams.  Cleveland with 3 losses and no ties is leading and in the best position, but things figure to be very fluid the rest of the way.  The same is true in the wildcard race, where only 1/2 game separates the top wildcard from the 3rd team out and a 4th team is only 1 full game out.  Of the pack Miami is in good shape if they can stay 2nd in the East (remember: you break division ties first in setting conference rankings) as they currently only have 2 conference losses.  All 4 of Baltimore’s losses are in the conference, including having lost 3 of 5 division games played which could hurt them in tiebreaking situations.  Within the North division you could have all teams go 3-3 in the division if Cleveland beats Cincinnati, Baltimore beats Cleveland, and Pittsburgh splits their two games with Cincinnati.

NFC

1. Arizona (8-1)

2. Detroit (7-2) (conference record on Philadelphia)

3. Philadelphia

4. New Orleans (4-5)

5. Dallas (7-3)

6. Seattle (6-3) (head-to-head on Green Bay)

In the Hunt

7. Green Bay

8. San Francisco (5-4)

9. Minnesota (4-5)

In the Hunt NFC South Edition

10. Carolina (3-6-1)

11. Atlanta (3-6) (conference record on Chicago, St. Louis, New York [head-to-head on Washington])

Barely Alive

12. Chicago (conference record on St. Louis & New York)

13. St Louis (conference record on New York [will play each other later in season]

14. New York

15. Washington

Playing for 2015

16. Tampa (1-8)

Things might even out a little bit by the end of the season, but right now you would have New Orleans make the playoffs by “winning” the South despite being a full 2 games worse than a Green Bay team that would miss the playoffs; they would get to host a Dallas team with a .700 winning percentage.  Only 7 of the 16 teams in the NFC are above .500 but is actually +1 against the AFC this season given the AFC has 4 teams with 2 or fewer wins at this point.  Arizona is off to a great start and if they beat Detroit this Sunday they would be in great shape to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs as they have also already beaten Philadelphia.  And by throughout, I mean throughout as their stadium hosts the Super Bowl; a team has never played a Super Bowl in their own home stadium.  On the other hand, it wouldn’t take much for them to fall out of leading the division or really even making the playoffs, and they’ll be playing their backup quarterback the rest of the season.  Barring someone collapsing, 2 good teams are going to miss the playoffs with 2 teams in the East, 2 in the North, and 3 in the West (including 5-4 San Francisco) in the mix.  Atlanta is only 1 game out of their division lead despite not having yet won a non-division game in 6 tries.  They are, however, undefeated against the South (two of the three games against Tampa).

All in all, it should be a fun final 7 weeks as always!

 

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