Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Favorite Part of Football Season

It's that time of year again. One week of football left, and all that stands between some teams and play-off glory is a solid game of football, and some super exciting (to me) statistics. This is the part where I get to run scenarios and figure out which games from week 17 will be the most exciting to watch. As per usual, let's start with the games that just don't matter:

Part 1: The AFC Fights for Place in Line

Right now, all six AFC teams are safely in the play-offs. The Wild Card teams are firmly locked into their positions: Colts are #5, Bengals are #6. The division leaders, on the other hand, have a fight on their hands.For reference, those leaders are:

#1 - Houston Texans (12-3)
#2 - Denver Broncos (12-3)
#3 - New England Patriots (11-4)
#4 - Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

The Texans seemed locked into first place, until a spanking by the New England Patriots started them on a downward spiral to being only well above average. After slow starts, the Broncos and Patriots rose quickly to top tier status and still seem like the teams to beat. Even my friend Tim, a hard-core Pats fan, says Peyton Manning's Broncos are the best team in football. I say fuck that, since the Pats beat two out of the other three division leaders: Texans and Broncos, but not the Ravens.

This year, instead of hitting every random scenario (like where people lose but make it anyway), I'm going to give the best and worst possible outcomes for each of these games. For the uninitiated, keep in mind #1 and #2 get a first-round bye in the play-offs, so dropping to #3 or #4 can mean the end of Super Bowl hopes.

Houston Texans
Best Case Scenario: A win locks them in #1.
Worst Case Scenario: A loss + Denver AND New England wins drops them to #3

Denver Broncos
Best Case Scenario: A win + Houston loss jumps them to #1
Worst Case Scenario: A loss + New England win drops them to #3

I'm a huge Pats fan, so I'm tying these games together, and, well, fuck the Ravens.
New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens
Best Case Scenario: A win + Houston AND Denver losses rockets them to #1
Worst Case Scenario: A loss + Baltimore win and they fall to #4

Part 2: The NFC Runs to Jump Onto a Plane Before it Takes Off From the Exploding Airport

On this side of the field, one team is locked into position, three teams are fighting for supremacy, three teams are fighting to stay alive, and two teams are fighting for both. Unfortunately, the best way to lay out this cluster fuck is to give you an unnecessarily complicated view of this, then break it back down.

#1 - Atlanta Falcons
#2 - Green Bay Packers / San Francisco 49ers (NFCW) / Seattle Seahawks (NFCW)
#3 - Green Bay Packers / San Francisco 49ers (NFCW) / Seattle Seahawks (NFCW)
#4 - Washington Redskins (NFCE) / Dallas Cowboys (NFCE)
#5 - Niners / Seahawks
#6 - Minnesota Vikings / Chicago Bears / Redskins / New York Giants

After a tough loss last week, the 49ers, who once seemed in a fight for first with the Falcons, may lose the NFC West to the Seahawks, who have helped my fantasy team a great deal this year. After an annoying tie, the Niners sit a HALF game below the Pack and a HALF above the Ospreys. The NFC East has so much parity, it's anyone's guess who will make it (it just won't be the Eagles). In the NFC North, the Packers have locked down the division, but rival Vikings and Bears are holding on for dear life. The Falcons, on the other hand, smacked down the rest of the NFC South, locking them into first, and killing their rivals' chances.

San Francisco 49ers
Best Case Scenario: A win + Green Bay loss secures them at #2
Worst Case Scenario: A loss + Seattle win loses them the division and drops them to #5

Seattle Seahawks
Best Case Scenario: A win + San Francisco AND Green Bay loss wins them the division and jumps them to #2
Worst Case Scenario: A loss holds them at #5

Chicago Bears
Best Case Scenario: A win + Minnesota loss ekes them into #6
Worst Case Scenario: A loss and they're OUT

New York Giants
Best Case Scenario: A win + Minnesota AND Chicago AND Dallas loss, they crawl into #6
Worst Case Scenario: Any single piece of that doesn't happen and they're OUT

These last two games are the most exciting. Both teams have play-off stakes.

Both teams are playing for drastically different reasons.
Green Bay Packers
Best Case Scenario: A win locks them at #2
Worst Case Scenario: A loss + SF or Seattle win drops them to #3, losing the coveted bye
Minnesota Vikings
Best Case Scenario: A win locks them at #6
Worst Case Scenario: A loss + a win by Chicago, New York, or Dallas, and they are OUT

This is the NFC East Title Game. For these two teams, the play-offs start here. It's do or die. The winner locks into #4. If the Dallas Cowboys lose, they are OUT. If the Washington Redskins lose, they are OUT, unless BOTH Chicago AND Minnesota lose.

Hopefully, that helped to sift through all the scenarios. Enjoy! Go Pats!



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