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

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