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NFL Playoff Seedings – Post Week 15

It’s almost over. With 2 weeks left in the NFL season, we are basically battling for seeding purposes although there are still playoff spots to be had. The Broncos losing last week makes the AFC a bit more interesting shoudl they lose again. If the Steelers beat Baltimore this week and Denver loses too, then the final two spots in the AFC are up for grabs which would make for an incredible final week in the NFL. In the NFC all that matters basically is Dallas winning one more game. If they can beat Washington then I think they get at least one wild card slot assuming Minnesota beats New York in the final week. What could definitely be interesting is for Dallas & Green Bay to lose this week combined with a Giants win. Playoff Odds via The Football Outsiders.

American Football Conference

#1 – Indianapolis Colts 14-0 (Odds of Going 16-0: 45.4%)

The chances of running the table went up 17% with the win over Jacksonville on Thursday night. My thought about the Colts is that they simply can’t lose to the Jets at home. I don’t see how Mark Sanchez beats Peyton Manning in Manning’s house. If that happens then the Colts will be 15-0 heading to Buffalo in the last week of the season. They’ll have to try and run the table with only one game remaining. What’s the point of throwing a game to the Bills? Despite notions to the contrary, I have the sneaking suspicion that the Colts really are gunning for 19-0.

#2 – San Diego Chargers 11-3 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 100.0%)

The win over Cincinnati combined with Denver’s loss to Oakland gave San Diego the division title. They are one win away from clinching the #2 seed in the AFC. If they lose out and New England wins out then it’s possible the Patriots could take the #2 seed away from San Diego, but with the Titans & Redskins left on the schedule, you’d at least have to think thke Chargers will wind up 13-3 or 12-4 at the very worst. It’s the #2 seed for San Diego.

#3 – New England Patriots 9-5 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 96.7%)

New England’s playoff chances went up 11% with the win over Buffalo this past week. It’ll be interesting to see if the Patriots can hold onto the #3 seed. If they win out, it’s theirs, but they have a road game with Houston in the final week of the season that could prove interesting. The Patriots don’t have the East locked up just yet. If they were to lose out while Miami won out, each team would be 9-7 with a 4-2 division record. It would go to common opponents. A win gives the Patriots the AFC East championship.

#4 – Cincinnati Bengals 9-5 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 98.1%)

The Patriots lead the Bengals for the #3 slot because of a better strength of victory. The Bengals have been tanking of late and you can’t really like their chances in the postseason. Granted, they’ll get at least one home game if they can hang on, but I’m not sure they can even win that. They could lose the division if Baltimore wins out and they lose out. Luckily for Cincy, the Chiefs come calling on Sunday. They should wrap it up.

#5 – Baltimore Ravens 8-6 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 78.1%)

Murdering the Chicago Bears bumped up the Ravens to the #5 seed because they own the head-2-head over the Broncos. A huge game looms for Baltimore now as they go on the road to a Pittsburgh team that just beat the Green Bay Packers. Even a loss to Pittsburgh doesn’t make the Steelers higher than Baltimore because of divisional records, but it could damage the Ravens by sending them to the #6 seed possibly. They also play at Oakland in the season finale so at worst the Ravens are 9-7 to end the year. I think the Ravens would love to stick at #5 because they avoid the Patriots and get the Bengals. It means they’d have to play Indianapolis in the 2nd round, but if the Ravens want to win the Super Bowl, they’ll have to go through Indy at some point.

#6 – Denver Broncos 8-6 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 73.3%)

Losing to Oakland is brutal. Denver has a tough play here. If they beat Oakland then they stick at the #5 seed which means a road game against a reeling Bengals team which is probably a win. Also with the Ravens at #6, there is a good shot Baltimore upends New England sending Denver to San Diego rather than Indianapolis. Now the Broncos get the Patriots and even if they manage a way to win that game, they are rewarded with Indianapolis. You either get Cincinnati and then San Diego or you get New England followed by Indianapolis? See what a loss to the Raiders can do to you?

#7 – Jacksonville Jaguars 7-7 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 12.3%)

They had to beat Indianapolis and couldn’t get it done no matter how hard Indianapolis tried to give it to them. Now they travel to New England where they probably could win given how the Patriots played against the Bills, but it’s very unlikely given that it’s a Patriots home game. I think you need 9 wins to get into the playoffs and although they finish with Cleveland, it looks like the Jags are 8-8 and on the outside looking in.

#8 – Miami Dolphins 7-7 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 8.9%)

The loss to Tennessee hurts quite a bit. Miami goes back home for its final two games against the Texans & Steelers. That won’t be easy but with two winnable games at home, the Dolphins have a shot. They need Baltimore & Denver to lose another one. They also need San Diego to beat Tennessee this week in Nashville. Oddly enough, the Jets have better odds of making the playoffs, but I guess that’s because the Jets have a better shot at going 1-1 than the Dolphins do of going 1-1 because while the Jets play the Colts, they also get a home date against the Bengals.

#9 – New York Jets 7-7 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 11.6%)

I don’t get this one at all. The Jets get the Colts & Bengals which means they are likely 7-9. I simply don’t see how they beat Indianapolis on the road unless the Colts completely tank. I think you need 9 wins and losing to Indy puts the Jets at 8 tops. I suppose an 8-8 team could get that #6 seed with the way the schedules are working out, but my guess is 9 wins and you are in. The Jets don’t have 9 wins left.

#10 – Pittsburgh Steelers 7-7 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 11.8%)

The win over Green Bay did wonders for the Steelers playoff chances, increasing them by 10%! My only guess as to how the Steelers can get in is if they win out and the Ravens lose out. The other possibility is that Pittsburgh beats Baltimore this week sending them to 8-7 while the Ravens drop to 8-7. Baltimore will hold the tie-breaker but if Denver loses this week in Philadelphia then they too would be 8-7 and Pittsburgh holds the tie-breaker. The Steelers are in an interesting position because they could indeed go 9-7 and the it’s likely the Broncos do lose this week in Philly. If Pittsburgh beats Miami in the season finale then essentially they’d own tiebreakers over Denver, Miami & Tennessee. The only thing that could ruin it is if the Jets win out. If that happens then they’d actually have the tie-breaker over Pittsburgh via conference record. The Steelers have a very real shot here at sneaking in as the #6 seed at the expense of the Denver Broncos. That very much changes the complexion of the AFC playoff picture.

#11 – Tennessee Titans 7-7 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 2.7%)
#12 – Houston Texans 7-7 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 3.6%)
#13 – Oakland Raiders 5-9 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#14 – Buffalo Bills 5-9 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#15 – Cleveland Browns 3-11 (Odds of Having #1 Pick in 2010 Draft: 0.0%)
#16 – Kansas City Chiefs 3-11 (Odds of Having #1 Pick in 2010 Draft: 0.2%)

I’m still intrigued by the Titans, but they need massive help. They can’t allow Pittsburgh to have a better record so they need Baltimore to beat the Steelers. If that happens, then they need the Broncos to lose out which would give the Titans a better record. They also need the Jets to lose one which seems likely against the Colts and they also need the Jags to lose one which seems likely against the Patriots. If Tennessee beats San Diego this week at home and Baltimore beats Pittsburgh and Philadelphia beats Denver, then the Titans get a step closer.

National Football Conference

#1 – New Orleans Saints 13-1 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 100.0%)

Losing to the Cowboys isn’t so bad. On talent alone the Cowboys should be a lot better than they are. It was a bit surprising, but not out of the ordinary. So there won’t be the possible 18-0 battle between the Saints & Colts. With the Panthers & Bucs on the schedule, New Orleans will have to settle for 15-1 and by far the favorites to get to their first Super Bowl in NFL history.

#2 – Minnesota Vikings 11-3 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 100.0%)

That wasn’t good. The Vikings now have to possibly worry about losing the #2 seed if the Eagles win out. If that does happen and Minnesota falls to New York in the season finale, then the Vikings will indeed be the #3 seed and most likely will have either the Cowboys or Giants for the Wild Card game. I don’t completely understand the Favre controversy. If Childress wants to take him out with the Vikings up 7-6 then that makes no sense. However, if Childress wants to take him out with the Vikings losing and Minnesota having no shot at winning, then I can see Childress’ point in wanting to keep Favre healthy. Either way, the Favre fairytale might be coming to an end.

#3 – Philadelphia Eagles 10-4 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 100.0%)

Hard fought victory over San Francisco clinched a playoff spot for the Eagles, but it didn’t clinch the NFC East. Eagles have a tough road ahead. Denver coming in is a lot tougher now that it’s a must win for the Broncos. Plus they still must travel to Dallas in the last game of the season. Remember that if Dallas beats Washington and then beats Philly, they’ll own the tie-breaker and win the division. If the Eagles lose out then it doesn’t matter and Dallas coasts to a probable #3 seed. Dallas beating New Orleans & Oakland beating Denver certainly makes Philadephia’s last 2 games a lot more interesting.

#4 – Arizona Cardinals 9-5 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 100.0%)

The SF loss combined with their win gives Arizona their 2nd straight AFC West title. Who knows though. A team who thinks they can get back to the Super Bowl shouldn’t be struggling against the Detroit Lions. For Arizona it’s all about getting hot at the right time. They’ll get their home playoff game which they can certainly win, but they can’t get to the playoffs and play poorly. They aren’t that good of a team to play bad and still get a win in this year’s NFC.

#5 – Green Bay Packers 9-5 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 93.8%)

Losing to Pittsburgh wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t horrible either. Green Bay has to hope Arizona sucks in the season finale because things could get interesting for them. They have Seattle this week which should be a win, but if Philly goes 1-1, Dallas goes 2-0, New York goes 2-0 and Green Bay loses a game then Green Bay could be on the outside as they’ll have a worse record than both Dallas & Philly while also being tied with New York via conference record. It would then go to common opponents and then to strength of victory. NYG would have strength of victory leaving GB hoping they have a better common opponent record. Green Bay must win out or hope the Giants fall to the Vikings in the final week.

#6 – Dallas Cowboys 9-5 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 72.6%)

It’ll be interesting to see how Dallas responds now that they seemingly have the December monkey off their back. The win at New Orleans is H-U-G-E! If they can get a win there, they certainly should be able to beat Washington on the road this week, although earlier the Cowboys beat Washington 7-6 in Dallas. Who knows really? Dallas certainly has the talent to get at least one playoff win this year before either facing Minnesota or New Orleans. What they do with this new found momentum will be the real test. No matter what happens, it does seem likely that Wade Phillips is a dead man walking unless he brings back Dallas’ 6th Super Bowl title. I love my Cowboys, but even I don’t see that happening.

#7 – New York Giants 8-6 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 33.6%)

It’s real simple. The Giants must win out and Dallas has to lose a game. If that happens then New York is automatically in. The Giants put a beatdown on Washington which I thought was impressive. Sure the Redskins aren’t great, but they’ve played hard and I thought they might make the Giants tough it out. Instead, the G-Men hammered the Skins and now control their own destiny. The NFC is really interesting. Outside of New Orleans, the other 6 playoff hopefuls are all playing for something.

#8 – Atlanta Falcons 7-7 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#9 – Carolina Panthers 6-8 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#10 – San Francisco 49ers 6-8 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#11 – Seattle Seahawks 5-9 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#12 – Chicago Bears 5-9 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#13 – Washington Redskins 4-10 (Odds of Making Playoffs: 0.0%)
#14 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-12 (Odds of Having #1 Pick in 2010 Draft: 11.1%)
#15 – Detroit Lions 2-12 (Odds of Having #1 Pick in 2010 Draft: 6.2%)
#16 – St. Louis Rams 1-13 (Odds of Landing Ndamukong Suh: 82.5%)

With the Saints & 49ers losing, I don’t have to root for them any longer. I’m now solely rooting for the Colts & Cowboys with a little Titans mixed in for flavor. I’d love to root against the Eagles, but they already have a playoff spot locked up. I’m also rooting for the Ravens. I also will root against the Broncos.

Playoffs right now:

Wild Card Games: DEN @ NEP, BAL @ CIN, DAL @ PHI, GBP @ ARI

The AFC games are easy to predict. I think the Patriots & Ravens roll. The NFC games are a bit harder. I’m going with Dallas over Philly because I’m a homer. I’ll also take Arizona over Green Bay as the Packers may be a bit overrated.

Divisional Games: BAL @ IND, NEP @ SDC, DAL @ NOS, ARI @ MIN

Indy will get it done. They beat Baltimore early on in Baltimore so beating them at Lucas Oil shouldn’t be terribly difficult. I’ll also say New England beats San Diego. I simply can’t imagine Norv Turner outcoaching Bill Belichick. I don’t think Dallas beats the Saints twice in the Superdome and Arizona beats Minnesota to end the Favre fantasy once and for all.

Conference Games: NEP @ IND, ARI @ NOS

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The AFC comes down to the Colts & Patriots which seems fitting. Unfortunately for the Patriots, their dynasty is over and the Colts could be on the verge of a run that simply can’t be stopped. Colts take care of business. I think the Cardinals come up a bit short against New Orleans although I’m tempted to take the Cardinals to get back to the Super Bowl. If the Cardinals get hot I think they can easily get back for another chance, but New Orleans is playing too tough. If the Saints lose again then I think the playoffs set up well for Arizona to make another run.

Super Bowl: Indianapolis Colts v. New Orleans Saints

Peyton isn’t losing in his hometown. Records were meant to be broken. The Colts shut up the 1972 Dolphins by going 19-0.

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December 23, 2009 - Posted by | NFL Playoffs

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