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NFL Playoff Scenarios (Week 17)

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I can't believe the NFL Season is almost over already. What a shame. As we push towards the home stretch, the playoff chase is really intriguing this year. Let's take a look at the AFC first.


1. Baltimore 11-2 (H2H wins over NE, BUF, PIT (1-0), HOU) (H2H Loss to KC) Remaining games vs. NYJ, at CLE, vs. PIT 
2. New England 10-3 (H2H win over Buffalo (1-0), Pittsburgh) (H2H Losses to BAL, KC, HOU) Remaining Games at CIN, vs. BUF, vs. MIA
3. Kansas City 9-4 (H2H wins over BAL, NE) (H2H losses to HOU, TEN) Remaining Games vs. DEN, at CHI, vs. LAC
4. Houston 8-5 (H2H wins over KC, NE) (H2H losses to BAL): Remaining games at TEN, at TB, vs. TEN
5. Buffalo 9-4 (H2H win over TEN) (H2H losses to NE (0-1), BAL) Remaining Games at PIT, at NE, vs. NYJ
6. Pittsburgh 8-5 (H2H losses to NE, BAL (0-1)) Remaining Games vs. BUF, at NYJ, at BAL

7. Tennessee 8-5 (H2H win over KC) (H2H loss to BUF) Remaining Games vs. HOU, vs. NO, at HOU

Technically alive:
8. Cleveland Browns 6-7
9. Oakland Raiders 6-7
10. Indianapolis Colts 6-7
11. Denver Broncos 5-8

So let's break down how the current landscape works. First of all, the Ravens. With a game up on the Patriots, and the H2H tiebreaker, the magic number for Baltimore's HFA is 13. With the hapless Jets and Browns on the schedule, they could hit that mark by week 17. A single win, or a single steelers loss will clinch the division for the Ravens. They have a wildcard spot locked up at the very worst, and I can't find a situation where they finish worse than the 5th seed overall. As a funny aside, all of the top seven teams have a path to the number 1 seed overall, though most of them require Baltimore to lose out.

The Patriots are sitting cozy at the number 2 seed, and with both the tanking Bengals and Dolphins on the schedule, along with a home date against the Bills, it feels very unlikely that they lose another game this year despite how they've played against contending teams these past two weeks. With H2H losses to all three current division leaders, tiebreakers are unfavourable to the Patriots, but they would need to lose another game to suffer the consequences of that. A single win will get the Patriots a playoff berth locked up, and two wins (or just a week 16 win vs BUF) will clinch the division.

Kansas City has great tiebreakers thanks to H2H wins over the current front runners, but they need them to slip up in order to take advantage of it. They clinched the division last week with their win (and the Raiders loss would have done it too), so they don't need to worry about hosting a home game, but with losses to both of the AFC South competitors, they can fall to the 4th seed with a slipup and if a key contender emerges from that pile.

The AFC South is completely up to the Texans and Titans. They play each other twice in the final three weeks, and the key to the division is simple. Win both games. If Houston and Tennessee split the series, the advantage goes to the Texans for their better division record. The Texans also play a weaker team than the Titans in week 16 this year. If a team gets swept, they are very likely to miss the playoffs, as a 9-7 record probably won't cut it this year.

The Bills and Steelers are the current wildcard teams, and with their game against each other in week 15 meaning a lot for tiebreakers. A win gets Buffalo to 10 wins, and with H2H over both the Titans and Steelers, they would clinch a playoff berth. To clinch their division, the Bills would need to beat the Patriots in week 16, and have them slip up to either the Bengals or Dolphins. 10 wins is the mark the Steelers want to hit as well, but failing that, they'd prefer the Titans to lose since they have better tiebreakers on them.

Lastly, the Jets play an interesting spoiler role, as they have the Ravens, Steelers and Bills to close out their schedule. If the Jets steal one of those, they could throw those team's seasons into chaos.


NFC musings later.

Edited by RazorStar

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1. San Francisco 11-2 (H2H wins over GB, NO, LAR), (H2H Loss vs. SEA (0-1)) Remaining games vs. ATL, vs. LAR, at SEA
2. Green Bay 10-3 (H2H wins over MIN (1-0), CHI (1-0), (H2H loss to SF) Remaining games vs. CHI, at MIN, at DET
3. New Orleans 10-3 (H2H wins over SEA, CHI) (H2H losses to LAR, SF) Remaining games vs. IND, at TEN, at CAR
4. Dallas 6-7 (H2H win over PHI (1-0) Remaining games vs. LAR, at PHI, vs. WAS
5. Seattle 10-3 (H2H win over SF (1-0)), (H2H split with LAR (1-1), loss to NO) Remaining games at CAR, vs. ARI, vs SF
6. Minnesota 9-4 (H2H losses to CHI (0-1), GB (0-1), SEA) Remaining games at LAC, vs. GB, vs. CHI


7. Los Angeles Rams 8-5 (H2H wins over CHI, NO) (H2H split with SEA (1-1), losses to SF (0-1)) remaining games at DAL, at SF, vs. ARI
8. Chicago Bears 7-6 (H2H win over MIN (1-0)) (H2H losses to GB (0-1), LAR, NO) Remaining games at GB, vs. KC, at MIN
9. Philadelphia Eagles 6-7 (H2H loss over DAL (0-1)) Remaining games at WAS, vs. DAL, at NYG


So let's start off with the simple. Dallas and Philadelphia can no longer compete for the wild-card. With both of them sliding into losing records, their only solace is the winner of the division gets a home game against a far superior team. Dallas has all the important tiebreakers on Philadelphia, so even if Philly wins the crucial week 16 matchup, they still need to finish with a better record than the Cowboys in order to clinch the division. You could see a 7-9 division winner if the chips fall a certain way.

Every team in the NFC North is going to need to earn their position in the dance. Green Bay is scheduled against all of their division rivals for the last three weeks, and depending on wins or losses, they could finish anywhere from first seed to out of the chase entirely. A win against the VIkings on week 16 will guarantee them the division title though, so make that a game to keep an eye on. Chicago's best route into the chase is to backdoor the Vikings, but winning every game on the schedule is practically a necessity for them. However, they can still steal the division if they finish in a tie at 10-6 with the Packers and Vikings, but that's a long shot that needs three other results to happen in addition to the Bears winning out. The Vikings might be a game up in the wild-card chase, but they can't control if they win the division even if they win out. Not to mention, they have three tough games left on their schedule, and Kirk Cousins is their quarterback. If you haven't been paying attention, that means you can basically write the Vikings off. Hell, they could be a 6 seed at 12-4 if things go horribly wrong (or right, depends on who you ask). A single slip, and they lose all tiebreakers to the Rams right behind them. For your own betting good, write off the Vikings, they are done.

Unless of course the Rams can't deliver. The Rams need help, they can't make the postseason on their own. Their best shot is to back door the Vikings, but winning out could theoretically let them back door the 49ers or Packers as well. Tiebreakers are still fuzzy with the Seahawks, so they could either beat them out at 11-5 as a wildcard, or lose out to them. Things are still up in the air, but winning out gives the Rams a good shot since all 4 teams ahead of them (GB, MIN, SF, SEA) need to maintain a one+ game distance and that's harder when they have games against each other.

New Orleans won their division, and are guaranteed a home game, but Green Bay has a better conference record, and currently San Francisco has that key H2H victory. They would prefer Seattle to win the NFC West, as the Saints have a key victory over them to take advantage of. If the Saints win out, they can take home field advantage if the Seahawks win the division, and the Packers suffer at least one loss.

The 49ers and Seahawks control their own destiny for the NFC West title. Win out, and the NFC West crown is yours. Week 17 will likely be a vital game for the 49ers and Seahawks, unless the Seahawks really start fading down the stretch. Winning out would not necessarily guarantee home field for Seattle, but it would guarantee a first round bye at the worst. likewise, both teams haven't locked up a playoff spot yet, but a win for the 49ers will do that. Seattle would need the Rams to lose and then to beat the Panthers to clinch a spot. 


Razor's hot take predictions:

1. Baltimore 13-3
2. New England 13-3
3. Kansas City 12-4

4. Houston 10-6
5. Pittsburgh 10-6
6. Buffalo 10-6


1. Seattle 13-3
2. Green Bay 13-3
3. New Orleans 13-3
4. Dallas 8-8
5. San Francisco 12-4
6. Los Angeles Rams 11-5

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The hot takes are dead, the Vikings clinch a playoff spot with a Rams loss, so now all that's left in the NFC is a seeding battle.

Seattle and San Francisco will decide the fate of the NFC West and likely the number 1 seed in the conference overall. The loser of that game will be the 5th seed, and have to travel to either Dallas or Philadelphia to start a hellish road slog.

Speaking of Dallas and Philadelphia, they can mostly decide the NFC East tonight. If Dallas wins, they're in as the 4 seed and the week 17 games don't matter to them. If they lose, the Eagles are a game up, but need either a win in week 17 or a Dallas loss in week 17 to guarantee the spot. In the rare case that we get ourselves a tie, the Cowboys only need to finish with the same or a better record than the Eagles to win the East.

The Packers and Vikings are playing for the division crown on monday night. If the Packers win they clinch the NFC North, if they lose, they still lead the NFC North, but will be in position to be overtaken if the Vikings finish with a 12-4 record to their 11-5 record. A tie will favour the Packers on the strength of their in division record.

The 49ers need to win week 17 to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Saints are currently the three seed. If they win out, Seattle beats San Fran in week 17, and Green Bay stumbles once, they're the one seed.
The Vikings are currently the six seed, and cannot win home field advantage throughout anymore. They can get as high as the two seed with a lot of help, but that's it. They can end up the 5 seed by winning out, tying with the Packers for the division, and having San Francisco lose to Seattle on week 17.
The Packers need the Seahawks to lose to Arizona today, and beat San Francisco week 17, along with winning out to secure home field advantage.
The Seahawks need to win out and have the Packers win out to clinch home field advantage.

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The AFC is pretty simple at this point, aside from the chase for the 6th seed, which can get pretty interesting.

:Ravens: are locked in as the one seed, and they'll be resting their starters against the Steelers from the sounds of it.

:Pats: are in the drivers seat for the two seed. A win or a chiefs loss will lock up the two seed, but if they lose and the Chiefs win, they'll fall to the three.

:Chiefs: are currently the three seed, but can rise to the two seed as shown above, or fall to the four seed if they lose and the texans win. Otherwise they'll remain in the third spot.

:Texans: are currently the four seed, and need a win over the Titans + a chiefs loss to get to the three seed.

:Bills: are locked in as the 5 seed and aren't playing for anything but pride now.

:Titans: are currently in the drivers seat for the 6 seed and have the unassailable SOV advantage over Pittsburgh. A win over the Texans will take it, but they can still get in even with a loss, they just need some help from Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Oakland of all teams. 

:Steelers:situation is pretty simple. They need a win and the Titans to lose or draw. Or a draw and a Titans loss, but fundamentally the win would be much better. They actually can backdoor their way in if the Colts go 8-8 as well as the Titans losing to go 8-8. As long as the Raiders don't throw a wrench into the mix...

:Raiders: I haven't talked about the Raiders as a potential playoff team yet, but they still have an outside shot in hell here. Their situation requires them to win, the Titans and Steelers to lose, the Colts to beat the Jags, and then to secure the Strength of Victory tiebreaker over the Steelers, which is real close right now.


Edited by RazorStar

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The chase for the NFC is all but decided as well, with only the NFC East needing to decide it's representative, and the 4th seed in the playoff. If the Eagles win, or the Cowboys lose, the Eagles are the 4th seed by virtue of their win over Dallas last sunday. If the Eagles lose, and Dallas wins, the NFC East is won by the Cowboys at 8-8. They somehow aren't dead yet despite losing 4 straight.

The :Vikings: are locked in as the 6th seed thanks to their loss to Green Bay on monday night. 

The :Seahawks: are currently the 5 seed, but they will win the NFC West with a win over San Francisco, and are still in play for home field advantage if both the Packers and Saints lose this week.

The :Saints:are currently penciled in as the third seed. They need the Seahawks to beat the 49ers, as well as the Packers to lose to the Lions and secure a win for themselves. If they lose, they'll be the three seed automatically. If they win, and only one of the 49ers or Packers lose, they can get up to the two seed.

The :Packers: just need a little bit of help to secure home field throughout. A win plus a Seahawks win over San Francisco will do it. A win will get them a first round bye regardless, and a loss will drop them to third unless the Saints lose too.

The :49ers: are the team that controls their destiny for home field advantage. Beat Seattle, and they're the one seed. Lose and they are the 5. If they tie, they still win the division, but the Packers and Saints can get better seeding with wins.


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Raiders are gonna make the playoffs.

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