Sunday, December 11, 2005

So, This Is What We've Been Missing...

Yes, Cincinnati, there is NFL football played in December, and what fun it is. We haven't watched this much football in years.

This is the promised update on the playoff chase. (NFL tiebreaker rules are pretty easy to figure out. If you took calculus in high school.) As always, Division winners get top seeds, and the Division ties are always broken first.

Division Leaders
1. Indianapolis. 13-0. Conf. 11-0. Assured of the #1 seed and home field as long as they stay in.
2. Denver. 10-3. Div: 3-1. Conf: 7-2. (Thanks, Baltimore.) Denver beats the Bengals on tie-breakers and control their own destiny. The tie-break is conference records. This is critical, #2 gets a bye in the playoffs.
3. Cincinnati. 10-3, Div: 5-1, Conf: 6-3. One more win clinches the division and a home game in Cincinnati.
4. New England. 8-5. Div: 4-0. Conf: 6-4. Bengals have a two game lead.

5. Jacksonville. 9-4, Conf: 7-3. They can't win their division, but they're up a game for the wildcard.
6. Pittsburgh. 8-5. Conf: 6-5. It gets confusing here. In a three-way tie for the wildcard, you eliminate all but the top teams from each division using the Division tiebreaker. San Diego wins the AFC West tiebreaker since they are up 1-0 on KC. Pittsburgh then beats San Diego on head-to-head play (1-0). Here's where it gets weird. If KC and Pittsburgh both win out, they'll be 11-5. KC would move ahead of San Diego in the process, since they play each other (SD could be 10-6 at best in this scenario), and then KC wins the tiebreaker with Pittsburgh based on Conference record.

Outside Looking In
7. San Diego. 8-5. Div 3-1. Conf: 6-3. Denver has a two-game lead on SD and KC, but either can win the division with help. Also, SD can win the wild card with help.
8. KC. 8-5. Div 3-2. Conf: 7-3. In eighth, but it appears that they control their own playoff destiny. Go figure.

Way Outside Chance
9. Miami. 6-7. Div: 1-3. Conf: 4-5. They can still win their division, under much the same criteria as Pittsburgh. Might not be eliminated from wildcard race. (But we didn't figure it out since there's too much number crunching for something so unlikely. Check back next week if you care that much.

No one else can get in. It will take at least 9 wins to get in, probably 10, and no one else can do that.

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