NFL Playoff Situation – Week 15

Most of the divisions are pretty simple now. But even Rubik himself might have some trouble deciphering the AFC East.

Most of the divisions are pretty simple now. But even Rubik himself might have some trouble deciphering the AFC East.

NFL Playoff Situation – Week 15

One more division was clinched and two more teams were eliminated from playoff contention during Week 15. Below is the skinny on the playoff status of all 32 teams.

A link to the tiebreak scenarios on the NFL website:

Tenets of the Tiebreakers:

Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker

Division games are more important than non-division games

Conference games are more important that non-conference games

If everything fails, flip a coin.

(Teams with no changes from last week are in Italics.)

Division Winners:

Arizona Cardinals – NFC West

New York Giants – NFC East

Tennessee Titans – AFC South

Pittsburgh Steelers – AFC North

Pittsburgh clinched the division with a come-from-behind win over Baltimore, thanks in large part to a controversial replay that gave the Steelers a touchdown in the waning moments. Watching the play over and over, it did not appear there was enough evidence to overturn the call but the referee disagreed. It would have been interesting to see if Mike Tomlin would have chosen to go for the win on 4th-and-goal from a few inches away. However, that decision needed not be made as a touchdown was called. Baltimore drops into a 3-way tie for the second and final wild card spot heading into Week 16.

Out of the Playoff Picture:

Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks

Teams Eliminated This Weekend:

Buffalo Bills

The Bills were officially eliminated when the Dolphins beat San Francisco as the Bills were blowing a great chance to win in New York against the Jets. All they had to do was run the ball and gain one more first down and the game was all but over, but J.P. “Tom” Losman fumbled on a play-action pass and the Jets returned it for a touchdown.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers’ extremely slim hopes were ended in their loss at Jacksonville.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints could finish tied with Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Dallas as well as others, but cannot win any tiebreak scenario and have thus been eliminated.

Teams all but Mathematically Eliminated:

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers trailed Kansas City 21-3 in the second half before coming back to win on two late Philip Rivers touchdown passes. Denver was blasted in Carolina, keeping San Diego’s slim divisional hopes alive. If Denver loses next week at home to Buffalo and San Diego wins at Tampa Bay, a winner-take-all situation would be set up for the teams’ game in Week 17. San Diego would win the division via tiebreaker #2 – 5-1 division record vs. Denver’s 4-2. A Bronco win or a Charger loss next week sends the Broncos to the playoffs as the division winner.

Other Clear-Cut Divisions:

NFC North

Both Minnesota and Chicago won this past week so the resolution of this division has become very simple. One Minnesota win or one Chicago loss in either of the final weeks clinches the division for the Vikings as the Bears cannot win a tie with the Vikings. Interestingly, it is possible for the two teams to finish tied for the division with the tie not being settled until the fifth tiebreak, which is strength of victory. While I am not 100% sure of the NFL’s definition of strength of victory, but I take it to mean the combined record of the teams you defeated. At this point, the Vikings (.405) lead the Bears (.362) in that category as well if my assumption is correct and there is no way for the Bears to make up the difference.

NFC South

While the AFC East (see below) stayed as unsettled as possible, the NFC South became much, much clearer after the weekend’s games. While almost anything was possible before the past weekend, Carolina now holds a two-game lead over Tampa Bay and Atlanta, while New Orleans was eliminated from division contention on Thursday. Carolina clinches the division while winning either of their last two games, or if Tampa Bay and Atlanta each lose once, but the Bucs and Falcons still have slim hopes. Carolina would lose a tie with either of the two other teams based on conference record while a 3-way tie would come down to strength of victory between Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Thus, all three teams remain mathematically alive for the division, but Carolina can end the suspense with one more win.

Not Enough Precincts Reporting:

AFC East

The only thing settled over the weekend was that Buffalo was put out of its misery. New York, Miami, and New England all won to remain in a 3-way tie atop the division. As mentioned last week, Miami and the Jets would each win the division by winning their remaining games. In addition, we know that it is not possible for any of the teams to clinch the division next week. We also know that the winner of the MiamiNew York game in Week 17 will hold the tiebreak advantage over the other. The tiebreakers with New England are too close to call as they may come down to record against common opponents. At this point, it is simple for all three teams – if you win your final two games, you will probably make the playoffs, although that is not guaranteed for the Patriots. Interestingly, due to the vagaries of tiebreakers, Miami wins a tie with New England if they each win out, but if Miami drops one of the two final games, New England would be in better position in case of a tie. Stay tuned until the final week – we know that the intradivisional games in Week 17 will determine the winner of the division.

Wild Cards:

With two weeks remaining, we delve deeper into the wild card situations in both conferences, from the bottom of the standings to the top. There are still six teams alive for the NFC wild card spots so we are not going to examine all tie possibilities, but rather examine where each team ranks with two games to play. In the AFC New York, Miami, New England, and Baltimore are all tied for the final two playoff spots.


6. Washington Redskins


After a horrible loss to the 2-11-1 Bengals, the Redskins are on the verge of being eliminated. If Washington wins their last two games and Dallas loses their last two, Washington would win a tie with the Cowboys by virtue of a better conference record and advance to the playoffs provided Tampa Bay and Atlanta also lose both of their remaining games and Chicago and Philadelphia each lose once. However, one win by Dallas or one loss by Washington, not to mention many, many other possible combinations, ends the Redskins’ hopes.


5. Chicago Bears


The Bears need to win both of their games and get a lot of help in order to win one of the wild card spots. They would lose ties with Atlanta and Tampa Bay but it is possible they could win one over Dallas. Thus, they need to win both games and have either Atlanta or Tampa Bay lose both, plus have Philadelphia lose once, in order to have a shot at a wild card. They are in better shape than Washington, but it would be a surprise if either stays alive past next weekend.


4. Philadelphia Eagles


The Eagles kept their hopes alive with a win over Cleveland Monday night, improving their record to 8-5-1. The Eagles’ would make the playoffs by winning their final two games provided either Tampa Bay or Atlanta loses once. Philadelphia and Dallas meet the final week of the season and that game could easily prove to be a “play-in” game for one of the wild card spots. A loss in either of the final two games would likely be the death knell for their postseason hopes, but the Eagles appear to be peaking at the right time.


3. Atlanta Falcons


Atlanta needs some help to win a spot in the playoffs as they currently sit 3rd out of the three teams tied at 9-5. Atlanta would miss the playoffs if all three teams finish 11-5 so their best shot is to win their last two games and hope Tampa Bay or Dallas loses once.


2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers


If Tampa Bay wins out they will earn a playoff spot. They currently hold a tiebreak edge over Atlanta for both conference record, although that advantage would be negated if Atlanta wins its final two, and strength of victory.


1. Dallas Cowboys


Dallas holds the tiebreak edge over Tampa Bay as a result of their earlier win over the Bucs and find themselves in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot. If the Cowboys win out, they will qualify for the playoffs.




4. New England Patriots


New England loses a tie with the Colts but eventual ties with the Dolphins and Ravens are too close to call at this point. They are obviously still in the thick of the AFC East race as well.


3. Miami Dolphins


The Dolphins won their 3rd straight game without scoring more than 16 points, keeping a tie atop the AFC East. They currently trail the Jets due to division record, but this division seems destined to come down to Week 17. Miami currently holds the tiebreak edge over New England by way of conference record (4th tiebreaker) but could lose the division record tie after the conclusion of remaining divisional games. Miami would need some help to win one of the wild card spots as they would lose a tie with Indianapolis and/or Baltimore.


2. Baltimore Ravens


The Ravens lose a tie with the Colts but win a tie over the Dolphins. A tie with the Jets or Patriots would come down to conference record or record against common opponents. The Ravens, Patriots, and Jets all face non-conference opponents next week so the resolution of the second wild card spot, if not the first, will come down to week 17.


1. Indianapolis Colts


The Colts won their 7th consecutive game Sunday, holding off a solid effort from the winless Lions. With the win, the Colts remain in the top spot for one of the AFC Wild Cards. Indianapolis holds tiebreak edges over Baltimore and New England due to head-to-head victories. They would also hold the advantage via conference record if they finish in a tie with the Dolphins and/or the Jets. Thus, one more win will clinch a playoff spot.



~ by Bristol on December 15, 2008.

3 Responses to “NFL Playoff Situation – Week 15”

  1. thanks for this information and Cowboys are at number one that’s great…….after all they crushed the winners…….. great going guys………..


  2. Not sure if you are being sarcastic or not but I sense you are. If you aren’t, thanks for the comments. If you are, you need to read the post a little closer or have someone read it to you. The Cowboys are #1 in the NFC Wild Card picture because of their record and the tiebreak situation. This isn’t an opinion column, it is based on scientific facts. If you want blathering opinion and rankings that mean nothing, go to


  3. Sry for commenting Off-Topic – what Word Press template are you using? It’s looking awesome.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: