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

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