Saturday, January 7, 2017

Buck Off at the Garden (PBR) - January 6, 2017


Happy New Year to my loyal readers. Hope all three of you enjoy 2017! After a terrible start to the year watching the Rexless Bills get thumped by the Jets on New Year's Day, I spent the week searching for an event that might get my mind off the Bills 17-year playoff drought. The usual teams were not compelling, but then I discovered the PBR was at Madison Square Garden. The Professional Bull Riders have been kicking off their season at MSG since 2007, and it has obviously been successful as the tour begins its second decade in New York with a 3-day event.



The Monster Energy Buck off at the Garden is considered one of four majors on the BFTS (Built Ford Tough Series) Tour, which, as you can tell, relies heavily on corporate sponsorship. Tickets ranged from $26 to $200 and were easy to get at the box office. No need to spend more than the minimum here as the action takes place in a small area and a pair of binoculars is all you need to see everything. As you can see, the ring takes up about 3/4 of the ice surface, with a large island in the middle. Photographers and VIPs are able to get inside there, which must be an incredible experience.



The event began around 8:00 with a video featuring Steven Tyler. The 35 riders were introduced as flames ran across the floor, and then the national anthem was sung by a country group that I had never heard of before. After that, it was time for action. Bull riding is quite simple (to understand, not to do): the bulls and riders come out of the chutes at the far end, and the rider must stay on for 8 seconds while keeping one hand in the bull rope and one in the air; if he falls off or touches the bull or himself with that untethered arm, the ride is over. If the rider completes 8 seconds, he gets a score based on the bull's movements (spin, direction change, kick), while the bull receives a score regardless of the rider's success. Some riders wear hockey-type helmets, but most choose to go in with just a cowboy hat to protect them, as they believe that helmets can affect their balance. Injuries are not uncommon, though fortunately none happened on this night.



There are four matadors (rodeo clowns, you can see them in the shot below) who try to attract the bull's attention after the rider is off, eventually getting the bull into the return chute. If the bull goes past the island, there is a guy on horseback who lassoes it and brings it back to the chute. After every four riders, there is a break while they get the next set of bulls ready. During this time, the head matador, who has a wireless microphone, entertains the crowd or runs some contests. T-shirts are tossed, and one lucky attendee is given the "Fan of the Night" belt buckle. It's all very much like other sports, but this one has the most downtime of any of them. With 35 riders and a maximum 8 seconds per ride, there are only 280 possible seconds of action over the two-hour show, so much of the time is spent waiting for something to happen. It makes baseball look like F1.



Each rider gets one shot, unless the bull is considered to not have bucked hard enough, in which case the rider can request a re-ride. At the end, the top seven riders are given points, which are totaled up at the end of the season, with the leader winning the championship. On this night, two riders (Mason Lowe and Jess Lockwood) tied with 87.75 points, earning them 100 points and $5,750 apiece.

For me, this was probably the only time I'll see this event, unless I am in a more suitable environment, i.e. one where fans actually want to watch. Much of the crowd in the cheap seats were just there to say they were there. Hundreds upon hundreds of millennials showed up late, dressed as cowboys despite never having ridden a horse in their life. They didn't bother sitting in their assigned seats (thus ensuring plenty standing around looking blankly at tickets when others showed up), and spent the evening taking selfies, yapping (I couldn't hear the announcer for much of it) and trying to get drunk on crap beer. The actual event was secondary to ensuring that their social circle knew they were there. More and more I notice that fans like this (I call them the "Look at Me! generation") are dominating events and making things intolerable for those who actually want to watch. I certainly didn't pay to hear someone whine about how "My boss is like, the worst boss in like, literally, the whole world". The stereotype going around is "Special Snowflake" and from what I can tell, it isn't inaccurate.

So if you go to an event, here are three steps to make things better for everyone: 1) show up on time, 2) stay in your seat during the action (unless you are invisible), 3) shut up and watch - there are plenty of breaks in the action for you to tell your buddy all about how wonderful you are. If you want a social event, go to a bar or throw a party (if your parents allow it in their basement).

Notes

The only rider from Canada was Dakota Buttar, who calls Kindersley, Saskatchewan home. I was probably the only fan who has been there. Buttar completed his ride but his score was not enough to place him in the top 7.

Contrary to popular belief, the strap around the bull's flank is not tied to his testicles, but just behind them and encourages the bull to buck more from its hind legs.

Pabst Blue Ribbon used to sponsor PBR but I guess the connection was too confusing as they are no longer associated with one another from what I could tell.

Santa Claus did not bring me a new camera, so the next year will continue to see crap pictures as above, taken with my phone. Sorry.

Next Up

I'm heading back to California next weekend to complete Club 122 membership renewal with a visit to Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Check back for a recap after that.

Best,

Sean

Monday, January 2, 2017

NFL Final Playoff Picture


Here are the final playoff standings, along with a look back to past weeks:
AFC

Bal 3-0    NE  5-1    NE  7-2   Oak 10-2    NE  12-2    NE  13-2    NE  14-2
NE  3-0    Pit 4-2    KC  7-2   NE  10-2    Oak 11-3    Oak 12-3    KC  12-4
Den 3-0    Hou 4-2    Hou 6-3   Bal  7-5    Pit  9-5    Pit 10-5    Pit 11-5
Hou 2-1    KC  4-2    Bal 5-4   Hou  6-6    Hou  8-6    Hou  9-6    Hou  9-7
Pit 2-1    Oak 4-2    Oak 7-2   KC   9-3    KC  10-4    KC  11-4    Oak 12-4       
KC  2-1    Den 4-2    Den 6-3   Den  8-4    Mia  9-5    Mia 10-5    Mia 10-6
--------   --------   --------  ---------   ---------               ---------    
Oak 2-1    Buf 4-2    Mia 5-4   Mia  7-5    Bal  8-6                Ten  9-7                 
                      Pit 4-5   Pit  7-5    Ten  8-6                Den  9-7
                                Ind  6-6    Den  8-6
                                Ten  6-6    Ind  7-7
KC (6-0 in the division) moves up to second as Oakland cannot overcome the injury to Derek Carr in Week 17, the only change on the final Sunday. Houston and Tennessee tied at 9-7 with the Texans taking the title based on divisional record. Five of the six teams were in the playoffs after Week 6, with Denver dropping out to be replaced by Miami.
NFC

Min 3-0    Dal 5-1    Dal 8-1   Dal 11-1    Dal 12-2    Dal 13-2    Dal 13-3
Phi 3-0    Min 5-1    Sea 6-2-1 Sea  8-3-1  Sea  9-4-1  Atl 10-5    Atl 11-5 
LA  2-1    Sea 4-1-1  Atl 6-3   Det  8-4    Atl  9-5    Sea  9-5-1  Sea 10-5-1
Atl 2-1    Atl 4-2    Det 5-4   Atl  7-5    Det  9-5    GB   9-6    GB  10-6
NYG 2-1    Was 4-2    NYG 6-3   NYG  8-4    NYG 10-4    NYG 10-5    NYG 11-5
Dal 2-1    GB  4-2    Was 5-3-1 TB   7-5    GB   8-6    Det  9-6    Det 9-7
--------   ---------  --------- ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------
Sea 2-1    Phi 4-2    Phi 5-4   Was  6-5-1  TB   8-6    Was  8-6-1  TB  9-7
GB  2-1               Min 5-4   Min  6-6    Was  7-6-1  TB   8-7
                      GB  4-5   GB   6-6    Min  7-7
Detroit beat Tampa Bay for the final spot based on common games (Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New Orleans). Both teams split with their divisional rivals and lost to the Cowboys, the Buccaneers beat only the Bears, while Detroit beat the Saints and the Rams to earn the privilege of facing Seattle. Minnesota and Washington dropped out from Week 6, so overall 75% of the playoff teams were in a similar position way back in October. This isn't surprising, the season is short and good teams are usually good from start to finish.

As for my playoff prediction, can't imagine New England losing in the AFC, they will face the winner of the Packers/Giants WC game in the Super Bowl.

Best,

Sean

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Schedule

Sun, Jan 1 NFL MetLife Stadium, East Meadowlands, NJ Buffalo Bills 10 at New York Jets 30 78,160
Fri, Jan 6 Pro Bull Riding Madison Square Garden, New York, NY Results ~12,000
Sun, Jan 15 NBA Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA Oklahoma City Thunder 122 at Sacramento Kings 118 17,608
Mon, Jan 23 NBA Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY San Antonio Spurs at Brooklyn Nets 19:30
Sat, Jan 28 NCAA Basketball, ACC Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY Florida State Seminoles at Syracuse Orange 12:00
Fri, Feb 3 AHL UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena, Milwaukee, WI Rockford IceHogs at Milwaukee Admirals 19:00
Sat, Feb 4 NCAA Basketball, Horizon League UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena, Milwaukee, WI UIC Flames at Milwaukee Panthers 14:00
Sun, Feb 5 NCAA Basketball, Big Ten Kohl Center, Madison, WI Indiana Hoosiers at Wisconsin Badgers 12:00
Fri, Feb 10 NCAA Hockey, Hockey East Matthews Arena, Boston, MA Massachusetts Minutemen at Northeastern Huskies 19:00
Sat, Feb 11 NHL TD Garden, Boston, MA Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins 13:00
Sat, Feb 11 NCAA Basketball, CAA Matthews Arena, Boston, MA Hofstra Pride at Northeastern Huskies 18:00
Wed, Feb 15 NBA Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets 19:30
Sat, Feb 18 NCAA Basketball, ACC Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Duke Blue Devils 13:00
Sat, Feb 18 NCAA Basketball, ACC Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC Virginia Cavaliers at North Carolina Tar Heels TBD
Sun, Feb 19 NCAA Baseball Boshamer Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC Kentucky Wildcats at North Carolina Tar Heels 13:00
Sun, Feb 19 NHL PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC Toronto Maple Leafs at Carolina Hurricanes 19:30
Sat, Feb 25 NCAA Hockey, ECAC Hobey Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ Yale Bulldogs at Princeton Tigers 19:00
Fri, Mar 3 NCAA Basketball, Ivy League Jadwin Gymnasium, Princeton, NJ Harvard Crimson at Princeton Tigers 17:30
Sat, Mar 11 NCAA Basketball, Ivy League Tournament The Palestra, Philadelphia, PA TBD at TBD TBD
Tue, Apr 25 MLB Interleague Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO Toronto Blue Jays at St. Louis Cardinals 19:15
Wed, Apr 26 MLB Interleague Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO Toronto Blue Jays at St. Louis Cardinals 19:15
Thu, Apr 27 MLB Interleague Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO Toronto Blue Jays at St. Louis Cardinals 12:45
Fri, Apr 28 Southern League Trustmark Park, Jackson, MS Tennessee Smokies at Mississippi Braves 19:00
Sat, Apr 29 Southern League Trustmark Park, Jackson, MS Tennessee Smokies at Mississippi Braves 18:00
Sun, Apr 30 PCL Autozone Park, Memphis, TN Round Rock Express at Memphis Redbirds 14:05
Tue, May 2 Eastern League Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, CT Portland Sea Dogs at Hartford Yard Goats 19:05
Wed, May 3 Eastern League Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, CT Portland Sea Dogs at Hartford Yard Goats 10:35
Mon, May 15 Florida State League Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, FL Tampa Yankees at Florida Fire Frogs TBD
Tue, May 16 Florida State League Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, FL Tampa Yankees at Florida Fire Frogs TBD
Wed, May 17 MLB Interleague SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA Toronto Blue Jays at Atlanta Braves TBD
Thu, May 18 MLB Interleague SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA Toronto Blue Jays at Atlanta Braves TBD
Fri, May 19 Midwest League Fox Cities Stadium, Appleton, WI Cedar Rapids Kernels at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 18:35
Sat, May 20 Midwest League Fox Cities Stadium, Appleton, WI Cedar Rapids Kernels at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 18:35
Sun, May 21 Midwest League Dozer Park, Peoria, IL Beloit Snappers at Peoria Chiefs 14:00
Mon, May 22 Midwest League Pohlman Field, Beloit, WI Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Beloit Snappers 18:30
Tue, May 23 MLB Interleague Miller Park, Milwaukee, WI Toronto Blue Jays at Milwaukee Brewers 18:40
Wed, May 24 MLB Interleague Miller Park, Milwaukee, WI Toronto Blue Jays at Milwaukee Brewers 12:10
Sun, Jun 4 Carolina League Jim Perry Stadium, Buies Creek, NC Myrtle Beach Pelicans at Buies Creek Astros 16:00
Mon, Jun 5 Carolina League Jim Perry Stadium, Buies Creek, NC Myrtle Beach Pelicans at Buies Creek Astros 19:00
Tue, Jun 6 Carolina League Grainger Stadium, Kinston, NC Wilmington Blue Rocks at Down East Wood Ducks 19:00
Tue, Jun 27 Pioneer League Lindquist Field, Ogden, UT Orem Owlz at Ogden Raptors TBD
Wed, Jun 28 Pioneer League Melaleuca Field, Idaho Falls, ID Grand Junction Rockies at Idaho Falls Chukars TBD
Thu, Jun 29 Pioneer League Ogren Park Allegiance Field, Missoula, MT Billings Mustangs at Missoula Osprey TBD
Fri, Jun 30 Pioneer League Centene Stadium, Great Falls, MT Helena Brewers at Great Falls Voyagers TBD
Sat, Jul 1 Pioneer League Dehler Park, Billings, MT Great Falls Voyagers at Billings Mustangs TBD
Sun, Jul 2 Northwest League Gesa Stadium, Pasco, WA Salem-Keizer Volcanoes at Tri-City Dust Devils TBD
Mon, Jul 3 Northwest League Ron Tonkin Field, Hillsboro, OR Everett AquaSox at Hillsboro Hops TBD
Tue, Jul 4 Northwest League Volcanoes Stadium, Keizer, OR Hillsboro Hops at Salem-Keizer Volcanoes TBD
Wed, Jul 5 Northwest League PK Park, Eugene, OR Boise Hawks at Eugene Emeralds TBD
Thu, Jul 6 Northwest League Memorial Stadium, Boise, ID Vancouver Canadians at Boise Hawks TBD
Fri, Jul 7 Northwest League Avista Stadium, Spokane, WA Hillsboro Hops at Spokane Chiefs 18:30
Sat, Jul 8 Pioneer League Kindrick Legion Field, Helena, MT Missoula Osprey at Helena Brewers TBD
Sun, Jul 9 Pioneer League Brent Brown Ballpark, Orem, UT Idaho Falls Chukars at Orem Owlz TBD
Mon, Jul 10 Pioneer League Sam Suplizio Field, Grand Junction, CO Ogden Raptors at Grand Junction Rockies TBD
Fri, Aug 18 MLB Interleague Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago Cubs 13:20
Sat, Aug 19 MLB Interleague Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago Cubs TBD
Sun, Aug 20 MLB Interleague Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago Cubs TBD
Mon, Aug 21 Midwest League Parkview Field, Fort Wayne, IN Great Lakes Loons at Fort Wayne Tin Caps 19:05
Tue, Aug 22 Midwest League Fifth Third Field, Dayton, OH Bowling Green Hot Rods at Dayton Dragons 19:00
Wed, Aug 23 Midwest League Classic Park, Eastlake, OH Fort Wayne Tin Caps at Lake County Captains 12:00
Wed, Aug 23 American League Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians TBD
Thu, Aug 24 American League Comerica Park, Detroit, MI New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers 13:10
Thu, Aug 24 Midwest League Dow Diamond, Midland, MI Lansing Lugnuts at Great Lakes Loons 19:05
Fri, Aug 25 Midwest League Cooley Law School Stadium, Lansing, MI Fort Wayne Tin Caps at Lansing Lugnuts 19:05
Sat, Aug 26 Midwest League Fifth Third Ballpark, Comstock Park, MI Bowling Green Hot Rods at West Michigan Whitecaps 19:00
Fri, Sep 1 NCAA Football High Point Solutions Stadium, New Brunswick, NJ Washington Huskies at Rutgers Scarlet Knights TBD
Sun, Nov 26 Grey Cup TD Place, Ottawa, ON TBD vs TBD 18:00

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

NFL Playoff Picture after Week 16


Here are the standings with one game to go, along with the standings after 3, 6, 9, 12, and 14 games for comparison. Teams still in the race are included.
AFC

Bal 3-0    NE  5-1    NE  7-2   Oak 10-2    NE  12-2    NE  13-2
NE  3-0    Pit 4-2    KC  7-2   NE  10-2    Oak 11-3    Oak 12-3 
Den 3-0    Hou 4-2    Hou 6-3   Bal  7-5    Pit  9-5    Pit 10-5
Hou 2-1    KC  4-2    Bal 5-4   Hou  6-6    Hou  8-6    Hou  9-6
Pit 2-1    Oak 4-2    Oak 7-2   KC   9-3    KC  10-4    KC  11-4       
KC  2-1    Den 4-2    Den 6-3   Den  8-4    Mia  9-5    Mia 10-5
--------   --------   --------  ---------   ---------
Oak 2-1    Buf 4-2    Mia 5-4   Mia  7-5    Bal  8-6
                      Pit 4-5   Pit  7-5    Ten  8-6
                                Ind  6-6    Den  8-6
                                Ten  6-6    Ind  7-7
The six teams in the AFC are set after all contenders won this week. Note that two of the 3-0 teams did not make the playoffs. There is still a bit of positioning to think about - if Oakland beats Denver and New England loses to Miami (unlikely), the Raiders would take the top seed based on common games as the Pats lost to Buffalo once. If the Raiders lose and KC knocks off San Diego (much more likely), the Chiefs move to the second seed and Oakland drops to #5. If the Chiefs lose and Miami wins, the Dolphins would move up to 5th based on common games (the Chiefs loss to Pittsburgh hurts them). The Steelers play Cleveland, so they should have the third seed locked up even if Big Ben rests, but if they did lose and Houston won, the Texans could possibly take third based on strength of victory but they would need the opponents they have beaten this season to win on Sunday at least twice more than Pittsburgh's beaten opponents do. So yeah, don't think too hard about that one.
NFC

Min 3-0    Dal 5-1    Dal 8-1   Dal 11-1    Dal 12-2    Dal 13-2
Phi 3-0    Min 5-1    Sea 6-2-1 Sea  8-3-1  Sea  9-4-1  Atl 10-5 
LA  2-1    Sea 4-1-1  Atl 6-3   Det  8-4    Atl  9-5    Sea  9-5-1
Atl 2-1    Atl 4-2    Det 5-4   Atl  7-5    Det  9-5    GB   9-6
NYG 2-1    Was 4-2    NYG 6-3   NYG  8-4    NYG 10-4    NYG 10-5
Dal 2-1    GB  4-2    Was 5-3-1 TB   7-5    GB   8-6    Det  9-6
--------   ---------  --------- ----------  ----------  ----------
Sea 2-1    Phi 4-2    Phi 5-4   Was  6-5-1  TB   8-6    Was  8-6-1
GB  2-1               Min 5-4   Min  6-6    Was  7-6-1  TB   8-7
                      GB  4-5   GB   6-6    Min  7-7
Again, 3-0 was quite unlucky. Now, there's only two spots left. The Green Bay-Detroit winner will take one. If Washington wins, they will take it over the loser of Green Bay and Detroit (the Packers beat the Lions way back in Week 3 so they are the division leader right now). I'm ignoring the possibility of a Packer-Lion tie. If Washington loses and Tampa Bay wins, then the Bucs would have the same overall and conference record with the GB/Detroit loser. That would bring up common games. Detroit would take that over the Buccaneers because the Lions beat the Rams who beat Tampa Bay. But if the Packers lose to Detroit, then the common games tiebreaker is tied, and again it would go to strength of victory. As of now, Green Bay holds the advantage by 4.5 including hypothetical Buccaneer and Lions wins in Week 17. We also have to assume the Giants and Redskins tie because if the Giants win, then Tampa Bay could not catch Green Bay on SOV. Safe to say, the Bucs are not playoff bound.

The last three seasons have seen the top teams in both conferences meet in the Super Bowl. If that trend continues, the Pats will play Dallas in Houston. But don't discount an upset, especially in the NFC where both Green Bay and the Giants are tough matchups for the Cowboys.

Best,

Sean

Monday, December 26, 2016

Westchester Knicks 114 at Long Island Nets 118 (NBA D-League) - December 26, 2016


The NBA D-League is continuing to expand, and this year one of the new clubs is the Long Island Nets, affiliated with Brooklyn. The team will play in the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum beginning next season, but this year they are using the Barclays Center. Because there are so few free dates at this venue, the D-Leaguers usually play weekday afternoons before the parent club has a game, and tickets are not sold to the public for those affairs. However, there are two exceptions: Boxing Day (a holiday in the States this year as Christmas fell on a Sunday) and a Monday night in January. It is rare that a venue is used only twice (at least publicly) for a home team, and this made it a must-see for a stadium collector such as myself. (Yes, I've been to Barclays Center for Nets, Islanders, and NCAA hoops, but each one is a separate entry on the venue count as the experience is different.)



The visitors were the Westchester Knicks in a "Battle of the 'Burbs". Tickets were $17 for general admission at the box office, while courtside seats were $50. Only one side of the stadium is open to fans; the other side is reserved for friends and family and New York Knick Joakim Noah was one of the attendees sitting there.



Only one concession stand was open, and prices were the same as for the big sports ($6.50 for a bottled soda for example) so I just went into the seating bowl, taking a spot about six rows from the floor. Basketball is great to watch from close up, especially when the place is so quiet and you can hear the players and refs clearly. Unfortunately, my crappy phone camera was unable to do any better than the shot below.



There were four officials on the floor instead of the usual three due to a new experiment being run by the NBA. This was the first such game so it was a bit of history, much like the first college game with a 30-second shot clock that I saw a couple of years back. That change was adopted by the NCAA, but if today's game was any indication, three refs are enough as 59 fouls were called, including 20 in the third quarter alone. This made the game quite disjointed, but there were periods of play that were quite entertaining. The Knicks raced out to a 26-11 lead, but the Nets fought back to take a 9-point advantage into the break. Westchester used a 10-1 run late in the third to get close and then kept the pressure on in the fourth, finally taking a 98-97 lead on a three from Jordon Crawford (a 5'6 guard out of Bowling Green). The Nets immediately took the lead back and after Yogi Ferrell (out of Indiana) nailed a three, it was 104-99 for Long Island with 5:27 to go. The Knicks stayed close and had a chance to tie in the waning seconds, but Chasson Randle (Stanford) could not convert a reverse layup and the home team held on for the 118-114 win. Chris McCullough, Brooklyn's first-round pick (29th overall) in 2015 out of Syracuse, led all scorers with 25 points and 11 rebounds.



Notes

The team's abbreviation is LIN, fitting as Jeremy Lin plays for Brooklyn.

Their coach is Ronald Nored, a 26-year-old who played for Butler during their run to two consecutive NCAA finals.

D-League ball is one of the best values out there. Sure, it's very unlikely that you are going to see a future superstar, but if you enjoy the game of basketball, this is a great league to follow. There are only 450 NBA players, so you are still getting top quality talent, many of whom played in power conferences. I don't know why the Nets don't just sell tickets to every game here (season ticket holders can get tickets to every game, but not the general public), but I hope that they will get a decent following starting next year on the Island.

Best,

Sean

Monday, December 19, 2016

NFL Playoff Picture after Week 15


Here are the standings with two games to go, along with the standings after 3, 6, 9, and 12 games for comparison. Teams within a game of a playoff spot are included.
AFC

Bal 3-0    NE  5-1    NE  7-2   Oak 10-2    NE  12-2
NE  3-0    Pit 4-2    KC  7-2   NE  10-2    Oak 11-3 
Den 3-0    Hou 4-2    Hou 6-3   Bal  7-5    Pit  9-5
Hou 2-1    KC  4-2    Bal 5-4   Hou  6-6    Hou  8-6
Pit 2-1    Oak 4-2    Oak 7-2   KC   9-3    KC  10-4       
KC  2-1    Den 4-2    Den 6-3   Den  8-4    Mia  9-5
--------   --------   --------  ---------   ---------
Oak 2-1    Buf 4-2    Mia 5-4   Mia  7-5    Bal  8-6
                                Pit  7-5    Ten  8-6
                                Ind  6-6    Den  8-6
                                Ten  6-6    Ind  7-7
Miami won their last two and Denver lost their last two to switch places, while Pittsburgh has overtaken Baltimore for the North lead, though the two play next week. Baltimore is 7-3 in conference play to take the meaningless 7th seed, while Tennessee beat the Broncos in Week 14.
NFC

Min 3-0    Dal 5-1    Dal 8-1   Dal 11-1    Dal 12-2
Phi 3-0    Min 5-1    Sea 6-2-1 Sea  8-3-1  Sea  9-4-1  
LA  2-1    Sea 4-1-1  Atl 6-3   Det  8-4    Atl  9-5
Atl 2-1    Atl 4-2    Det 5-4   Atl  7-5    Det  9-5
NYG 2-1    Was 4-2    NYG 6-3   NYG  8-4    NYG 10-4
Dal 2-1    GB  4-2    Was 5-3-1 TB   7-5    GB   8-6
--------   ---------  --------- ----------  ----------
Sea 2-1    Phi 4-2    Phi 5-4   Was  6-5-1  TB   8-6
GB  2-1               Min 5-4   Min  6-6    Was  7-6-1
                                GB   6-6    Min  7-7
Detroit and Atlanta have identical 7-3 conference records, so the third seed comes down to common games. The rule mandates a minimum of 4 and each has played New Orleans, LA, Green Bay, and Philadelphia. Both beat the Saints and Rams, but the Lions lost to the Packers while the Falcons lost to the Eagles. The next tiebreaker is strength of victory and Atlanta takes that, having beaten Oakland and several other teams above .500 while Detroit has only one win over a better than .500 club, namely Washington.

The situation is similar for the final playoff spot but much more interesting. Green Bay and Tampa Bay are both 6-4 in the NFC and their record in common games (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle) is also tied at 3-2. When it comes to strength of victory, they amazingly tie yet again, forcing the tiebreaker to strength of schedule. The Packers finally win that one, with their opponents combining for 100 wins (ties count as half a win) while Buccaneers foes total 99. As this is Week 14, this incredibly close tiebreaker will not make the news, but if this were to be the final standings, you'd be reading a lot of articles like this one, detailing just how Green Bay snuck into the playoffs because of their opponents' records.

Best,

Sean