I’m not an avid NFL fan, but I do have a few favorites (Saints, Chiefs, and Dolphins). I pick who’s going to win games (I was second in a group going into this week) and I monitor results, but that’s mostly it. This is my only other NFL Blog this year: “How I Would Re-Align the NFL”. I just don’t get into it enough to blog about it generally.
I’m writing this because even though I’m pretty good with this stuff, I had some trouble figuring out the playoff scenarios with today’s results in mind, so I thought I’d share what I found out. I’m sorry if this comes across as too pedantic, but I try to write it so that people who might not be extremely familiar with the process can still follow along.
I’ll go into more details about the divisional spots at the end (at least one team makes the playoffs from each division regardless of how they compare to teams in other divisions).
NFC Wild Cards
These are the three teams competing for the remaining two spots in the NFC after the two that have clinched (Carolina of the South Division and Seattle of the West Division) and the two to-be-determined division winners of the East and North (if a scenario requires more than one step, I use a “+”, not a new numbered section):
–New Orleans playoff scenarios
(2) Falcons beat 49ers
(3) 49ers beat Cardinals
–San Francisco playoff scenarios
(1) Win at least one game
(2) Tie Arizona
–Arizona playoff scenarios
(1) Win + Saints lose
(2) Win + 49ers lose to Falcons
If you didn’t know, New York (Giants), Washington, Detroit, Minnesota, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and St. Louis have all been eliminated.
AFC Wild Card
Less complicated for the top 5 seeds here, since we at least know who the 5 teams are. Four teams are competing for one wild card spot. All four division winners are known: New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Denver. Kansas City has clinched the #5 seed (top wild card).
I guess it depends on how your brain works, but I’m going to explain it in a less formulaic way first. Baltimore wins a two-way tie with Miami or a three- or four-way tie that includes the Jets. Miami wins any tie that (1) doesn’t involve the Jets or (2) isn’t a two-way tie with Baltimore. Pittsburgh would win a five-way tie that includes the Jets. San Diego wins no relevant ties, but they can finish with the #6 AFC record outright.
I won’t be addressing what happens if a relevant game is tied next week, so keep the previous paragraph in mind. Since Pittsburgh is the the only team still alive with 8 losses, they would be eliminated if they tie next week regardless of any other results. The Jets have the same record as the Steelers do (7-8), but they have been eliminated due to their 4-7 record in conference.
–Baltimore playoff scenarios
(1) Win + Miami loss
(2) Win + San Diego loss
(3) Miami loss + San Diego loss + Pittsburgh loss
–Miami playoff scenarios
(1) Win + San Diego win
(2) Win + Baltimore loss
–San Diego playoff scenario
(1) Win + Miami loss + Baltimore loss
–Pittsburgh playoff scenario
(1) Win + Miami loss + Baltimore loss + San Diego loss
If you didn’t know, New York (Jets), Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Houston, and Oakland have all been eliminated.
I’m putting this last because I thought people would worry more about who’s going to be completely eliminated from the playoffs first.
As of right now, Seattle and Carolina have clinched the playoffs in the NFC; but no division has been clinched.
NFC East – The Eagles win the East by beating or tying the Cowboys. If the Cowboys win, they win the East.
NFC North – The Bears win the North by beating or tying the Packers. If not, the Packers win the North.
NFC South – If the Saints win and the Panthers lose, the Saints win the South. If not, the Panthers win the South.
NFC West – If Seattle beats (or ties) the Rams or San Francisco loses (or ties) either remaining game, the Seahawks win. San Francisco only wins the division with wins in both remaining games and a Seattle loss.