Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Numbers Time: The Glorious Clusterfuck

This has been a season of two vastly different conferences. The NFC has three teams escaping the doldrums to become NFL powerhouses, and four dominant teams slipping, but only a little. In all but one scenario, it will take 10 wins to make it to the NFC playoffs. On the other side, you’ve got 2 dynasties, and a bunch of bumbling idiots. The AFC byes are locked in because the only thing close to a third competitor just lost to the 49ers. Best case scenario, the #6 seed won’t be held by an 8-8 team. But we’ll get there. First, the games that don’t matter, either because both teams are out, or the one team that’s in is locked into their playoff slot.


The vastly inferior AFC has made for an interesting run to the playoffs, with four teams fighting for two wild card spots. All four divisions have been won, with the Jaguars locked into #3 and Chiefs into #4.

The last time an 0-4 made the playoffs was the ‘92 Chargers. The complicated NFL tie-breaking procedures are standing in the way of the ‘17 Chargers repeating that feat. Right now, the Ravens sit at #5 with 9-6 and the Titans hold #6 in a three-way 8-7 tie breaker with the #7 Chargers and #8 Bills. So the Ravens and Titans are in with wins, or if all four teams lose.

This is where it get complicated.

If the Ravens win and Titans lose, the Chargers are win and in, no matter what happens with Buffalo. But a three (or four) way tie fucks the Chargers. If the Ravens lose and the Titans win, the Bills are win and in, and the Chargers are out, even if Buffalo loses. If the Ravens and Titans lose, Buffalo gets the 5 slot with a win, but if the Bills lose too, the Chargers get #6 with a win. Confused? Try composing that paragraph.

More straight forward is the fight over #1 and #2. By losing to the Patriots last week, the Steelers need a win AND a Pats loss to jump to #1. With both teams facing easy matchups, that seems unlikely. The Pats did almost lose to the Jets this season, and the Browns would burn Heinz Field down before going 0-16, so it could be interesting. It won’t be. But it could.


Five out of six teams are guaranteed playoff spots. The Eagles hold #1 firmly. The Vikings and Rams won their divisions. The Saints and Panthers are fighting over the NFC South. And the Falcons and Seahawks are wondering which will be #6 and which will be eliminated.

The game of the week has to be Panthers at Atlanta. It’s the only game with playoff implications for both teams, and the outcome could shape the entire NFC playoffs. If Carolina wins, and New Orleans loses, Carolina wins the NFC South. If the Rams also lose, the Panthers jump from #5 to #3. If the Vikings ALSO lose, the Panthers could go from top Wild Card to a first round bye.

The Seahawks stand alone at #7. They need a win and a Falcons loss to steal that last wild card slot. But if they lose, the Falcons are in, no matter what.

A Rams win locks them at #3. If they lose, they could hold onto #3 if the Saints and Panthers also lose.

A Saints win, wins them the division. Combined with a Rams loss, they could take #3. But they don’t win the tie with Minnesota like the Panthers do, so #3 is as high as they go.

The Vikings are pretty much guaranteed that #2 slot. To lose it, they’d have to lose to the Bears AND the Saints would have to lose to the Bucs AND the Rams lose to the 49ers AND the Panthers beat the Falcons. It could happen. It won’t. But it could.

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