Posts Tagged ‘Washington Redskins’

NFL Playoff Scenarios for Every Seed

In NFL on December 26, 2016 at 10:44 AM

I don’t talk about the NFL too much, but it’s always fun for me to analyze the playoff scenarios since there aren’t one-game playoffs and it’s much easier to tie on multiple levels with 16 games than 82 games.

I couldn’t figure this out last night without visiting a number of sites and wasting a lot of time, so I just wanted to let people know all the different playoff scenarios, not just who’s in and who’s out.

Discussions overlap, but I try to indicate which seed I’m talking about in the sections for the respective conferences.

The Tampa Bay scenario needed its own section, but if they make it they’ll be the sixth seed in the NFC. It’s probably more likely for the Buccaneers to play in snow on Sunday (which is a home game) than make the playoffs, but I thought it was interesting. You can skip it if you just want realistic scenarios.


We know all the AFC playoff teams, but we don’t know the order very well.

1 – The Patriots have the #1 seed at the moment, but the Raiders could still get that if the Dolphins beat the Patriots and the Raiders beat the Broncos. The Raiders would win the tiebreaker based on common games.

2&5 – Even though Oakland still has a chance at the #1 seed, they could fall to the #5 seed with a loss and a Chiefs win (over San Diego).

3&4 – We already know that Pittsburgh will have the #3 seed and Houston will have the #4 seed.

6 – I mentioned how the Chiefs can move up to #2 (which comes with a bye), but they can also fall to #6 with a loss to San Diego and a Miami win over New England.


In the NFC, 8 teams are still alive for six spots.

1 – The Cowboys have clinched the #1 seed, but #2 is still up in the air.

2 – If the Falcons beat the Saints, they clinch the #2 seed. If they do not and the Lions (who currently have the #3 spot) beat the Packers next week, the Lions can take the #2 seed (regardless of whether they win tonight). If there is a tie, the Lions would win based on common games.

This might be common sense to most NFL fans, but just to explain, a team must win its division to be eligible to get higher than the #5 seed. The Giants can finish with a better record than the Falcons; but since the Cowboys have clinched the NFC East and the Falcons have clinched the NFC West, the Falcons are guaranteed a higher seed than the Giants.

So other than the Lions, the only other team who can take the #2 seed is the Seahawks. This is because if Seattle beats San Francisco, the Seahawks would finish 10-5-1, which puts them ahead of Atlanta if the Falcons lose to the Saints.

3 – If the Seahawks win, the only way an NFC North team can finish higher is if the Lions win tonight and next week (which would push Seattle down to #3). If the Seahawks lose, either Lions/Packers winner gets the #3 spot.

The reason the Lions haven’t clinched the division is that the Packers (at worst) both tie them and gain the tiebreaker with a win next week. (This is more applicable to the lower seeds, but…) Neither team has clinched the playoffs because (1) either can finish 9-7 and (2) the Redskins by beating the Giants would finish 9-6-1.

4 – Seattle will finish #4 at worst because the Seahawks HAVE clinched their division.

5 – The Giants have clinched the #5 seed. The worst they can finish is 10-6. The only team who can get to 10-6 and yet not win its division is the Lions, whom the Giants beat.

6 – So that last part is one scenario in which we resolve the #6 seed. (Basically it would mean the Lions win tonight and lose next week.) A Giants win over the Redskins would also guarantee the Lions a playoff spot even if Detroit loses both games.

A Giants win over the Redskins would also guarantee the Packers a playoff spot even if the Packers were to lose.

With a win by the Redskins, however, the Packers would be eliminated with one loss and the Lions would be eliminated with two losses. Either way, eliminating the Green Bay/Detroit loser would put Washington in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay

(The only way I could make this seem like it might be interesting to an average person was to talk to myself.)

Wait a minute. A win by the Giants makes the NFC North loser safe, and a win by the Redskins potentially puts the Redskins in place of the NFC North loser. How in the world does that leave room for Tampa Bay?

Well, I didn’t say what happens if NO ONE wins the Giants/Redskins game.

So the Bucs must win, and that game must end in a tie? That’s unlikely (the tie alone is about a 300-1 chance), but I guess stranger things have happened. Is that all?

Not even close.

In my opinion, 8-6-2 should beat 9-7 (8/14=57% and 9/16=56%), but ties count as half-wins, so it doesn’t. This means that there could be a three-way tie including Washington. To help Tampa Bay, the tie must include the Packers, which means Green Bay must beat Detroit. Also, the Lions need to lose tonight, but we’ll get to why at the end.

The Redskins would then lose the tiebreaker to Green Bay and Tampa Bay based on having the worst conference record of the 3. In this case, you start over the tie breaking procedure at the beginning with the two remaining teams. Head to head doesn’t work, neither does common opponents. You need to go to strength of victory (which means beating teams with better records… for some reason, they don’t care as much about losing to teams with bad records, which the Buccaneers did more of).

But don’t the Packers have a better strength of victory than the Buccaneers?

Why, yes they do, but if only four more games (other than the ones we covered) go the right way for the Bucs, that will change: San Francisco (whom the Bucs beat) beats Seattle, Indianapolis beats Jacksonville, Dallas beats Philadelphia, and Tennessee beats Houston. The last three games matter because the Packers beat the would-be losers of those games (and also beat the Lions way back in week 3).

This was a race where a horse won despite 999-1 odds, but it only happened because he was the only horse to finish the race. The other horses were doing so badly, the rider of the winner was able to get back on his horse and complete the course. The Bucs are facing about 30,000-1 odds according to ESPN.


Week 10 Top 25 and other notes

In General LSU, History, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 8, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Top 25

rank / team / prior

1 Notre Dame 1
2 Alabama 2
3 Ohio St. 3
4 Kansas St. 4
5 Oregon 5
6 Florida 6
7 Georgia 10
8 Oregon St. 9
9 Louisville 7
10 S Carolina 11
11 Clemson 16
12 Nebraska 18
13 Florida St. 12
14 LSU 8
15 TX A&M 23
16 Stanford 13
17 Toledo 14
18 Texas 22
19 Oklahoma 24
20 La. Tech —
21 N’western 19
22 Rutgers 21
23 SJSU —
24 UCLA —
25 Miss. St. 20

Out of rankings: (15) TX Tech, (17) Boise St., (25) Tulsa

Full 124 permalink

Prior rankings:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9

Before my usual top 25 run-down and other notes, I wanted to express my condolences to the University of Texas and its fans for the passing away of Darrell Royal yesterday. I had mentioned him less than two weeks ago in my blog about records and winning percentages of Les Miles and other prominent coaches. Many of the coaches on my list of historic greats are long gone, but some of the ones still alive (most of whom, unlike Royal, made their names in the 1980s and 1990s) are Lou Holtz, Dennis Erickson, Jimmie Johnson, Tom Osborne, and Barry Switzer. At least a couple of the honorable mentions are still around too. For example, Vince Dooley turned 80 a couple of months ago, and Frank Broyles (about 6 months younger than Royal) is expected to turn 88 next month. Broyles and Royal were close friends despite the rivalry at that time, and Royal’s career also overlapped with Switzer’s.

I was also interested to note that Royal attended the University of Oklahoma, where he played for Bud Wilkinson, another coach on my list. Royal intercepted 18 passes in his career with the Sooners, still a school record, particularly impressive given the reluctance of many to employ the forward pass at that time. Perhaps not coincidentally, he is famous for the statement, “Three things can happen when you pass, and two of ’em are bad.” He also was a successful part-time quarterback.

Before becoming the head coach of Texas, where he was known for installing the wishbone offense, Royal briefly coached at Mississippi St. (whose series against LSU I profiled here) and Washington. In his 23 seasons as a college head coach (1954-76), none of his teams ever had a losing record.

Top 25 comments
It may not look like the top teams have changed, and that’s true in ordinal ranking. However, going into last week, Alabama trailed Notre Dame by .23. Now Alabama trails Notre Dame by .04. So the Tide should have no problem passing up the Irish, assuming they can get past Texas A&M. Not a guarantee given that the Aggies had a similarly close game against LSU and just last week dismantled Mississippi St. similarly to the way the Tide did the week before.

Notre Dame will lose standing compared to other undefeated teams as the Irish still have Boston College, Wake Forest, and a bye week. They also have USC of course, but a 3-loss USC is probably not what many people expected they’d face and the three other major undefeateds all have multiple opponents left who rate higher than the Trojans do right now.

Ohio St. is still #3 here, but keep in mind they haven’t had a bye week either (they have one this week and of course will be idle during championship week). If the score is averaged by playing weeks, Ohio St. is 5th instead. I think 5th is more in line with where they should be, but I’m confident it will work itself out.

It doesn’t look like Florida can make the SEC championship game (absent what would be an almost miraculous win by Auburn over Georgia), so in light of LSU’s loss, I don’t think a one-loss SEC champion would be in the mix, unless of course a couple of these other teams lose (in which case maybe a one-loss non-champion could be involved). Georgia had a much worse loss (35-7 to South Carolina) and a significantly weaker schedule than Florida has had (Ole Miss, Auburn, and Georgia Tech in lieu of Texas A&M, LSU, and Florida St.), so they’re a tough sell as a one-loss team. I don’t think Alabama would be able to pull off what Oklahoma did in 2003 and make the BCS championship despite the loss in the conference championship game. Of course the formula has changed quite a bit since then. It would make for interesting conversation if Florida, Georgia, and Alabama all finished with one loss apiece, but practically, I’m afraid that would just dilute the SEC-sympathetic vote.

Anyway, as far as my ratings, Florida is significantly ahead (.11) of Georgia even though the Bulldogs are just the next spot down, so absent Georgia beating Alabama (who has all but clinched the SEC West), they should stay ahead.

I was happy to see Louisville and Toledo each moved down a couple spots as promised. Rutgers only fell one spot during its bye week, but this was partly due to losses by teams in their vicinity.

Georgia and Oregon St. moved up with a couple of respective good-but-not-great wins. Oregon St. could potentially be the top 1-loss team as it can play itself into the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford and Oregon. Of course, Georgia would gain significant ground by winning the SEC, but the Bulldogs don’t have much remaining competition otherwise.

South Carolina, Clemson, Nebraska, and Florida St. benefited from LSU’s loss and all moved up. The Gamecocks only moved up one spot though, because of course they had lost to LSU. Florida St. only moved up one spot because of its bye week and because that Duke win doesn’t count as much as it did last week.

Nebraska still gets credit for beating Michigan St., although the losses are adding up for the Spartans too. Also, the Huskers got a boost from UCLA (which beat Nebraska in September) beating Arizona.

Northwestern also felt the effects of the bye week, as they were passed up by Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana Tech. Texas A&M got the big win over Mississippi St., which in turn helped out Louisiana Tech. Texas and Oklahoma got decent wins in their own right, and also helped each other out.

San Jose St. is just gradually moving up as other teams lose, but we’ll see if they belong when they play BYU and Louisiana Tech. One of the Spartans’ two losses is to Stanford, so that’s why there aren’t a lot of negative points there. It also helped SJSU out that San Diego St. (whom they beat in September) beat Boise St. The Spartans are the 96th team I have ranked out of 124 in the nearly two decades I have ranked teams (I’m getting old). Obviously, the four new teams haven’t had much of a chance yet.

Three consecutive wins since the humiliation in Berkeley have put UCLA back in the top 25, and Mississippi St. is still barely hanging on at #25.

23 of my top 25 teams are also in the BCS top 25. The only exceptions are Ohio St., which is on probation and excluded from the BCS ratings, and San Jose St. Texas Tech and USC are the two teams in the BCS top 25 but not in my top 25.

SEC and LSU Notes

9 of the top 22 schedules in my formula belong to the SEC. That number might be a little skewed because I don’t factor in FCS games, but as of right now, the SEC has played fewer such games per team than any other major conference apart from the Big Ten. The SEC has seven teams in my top 25. The SEC is easily first in my conference rankings, but due to tiebreakers, the Pac-12 North is now the top division, although keep in mind that this only looks at where the good teams are ranked and does not consider how bad teams like Washington St. and Arkansas are.

Kentucky has announced that head coach Joker Philips will not be retained next season. I rank Kentucky’s schedule third, but I rank the team 98th. The Cats beat a Kent St. team that has beaten Rutgers and has done very well in the MAC. They also gave Georgia a very close game, but there were no wins apart from Kent St., and if you’re even occasionally bad enough to lose to Vanderbilt 40-0 at home, I can see the administration wanting to make a change. Kentucky made a bowl game in 2010 and barely missed one in 2011, so it may be time to try to right the ship before any further damage is done.

The Captain Obvious (or should that be spelled “Oblivious”?) award for the week goes to Les Miles, who admitted the fake field goal (a pass from the punter to the kicker at that) on 4th and 12 was not the right play.

As if there wasn’t enough bad about the LSU/Bama game, one thing that made it even worse was that LSU used the game as a major recruiting event. Kain Daub, a LB who may be one of the top recruits in the nation in 2014, announced a few days later that he has opened up his options since committing to LSU in the offseason. Alabama is one of several schools he is now considering, but he hasn’t completely eliminated LSU. Kendall Beckwith, a 4-star “ATH” (I so hate that designation) from Louisiana, is still leaning toward LSU, but is also considering Alabama. I wonder if the outcome of this game might come into play when he decides. Beckwith plans to attend the A&M/Alabama game as well.

Speaking of which, unless there is a three-way tie with Alabama and Texas A&M (which would require losses by the Tide to A&M and Auburn), LSU will not make the SEC championship game this season. The Tigers have made the SEC championship game 5 times, but all were in odd-numbered years. LSU has played @Auburn and @Florida in every even-numbered year since the SEC championship game began. The Tigers have also hosted Alabama in even-numbered years that whole time and have generally fared worse against the Tide at home than on the road.

For the eighth presidential election in a row, the LSU/Alabama game has corresponded with the outcome of the presidential election. It’s simple: LSU beats Alabama in an election year, the Republican wins; Alabama beats LSU, the Democrat wins. So if you don’t like Obama, blame Les Miles for getting him re-elected. The Alabama/LSU game often takes place after the election though.

It has sometimes been the second Saturday in November instead of the first. (And of course even the first Saturday sometimes falls after Election Day… which by law is the first Tuesday that is not November 1.) The game was actually played on the third Saturday in 2002 and 2003 and on the fourth Saturday in 1973, but obviously those weren’t election years and the streak didn’t start until 1984 anyway. Otherwise, it’s been on one of those two days since this started being an annual rivalry in 1964.

The “Redskins Rule” (which has to do with the Redskins defending the incumbent’s party by winning at home), on the other hand, has been wrong in two of the last three elections.