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NFL Playoffs – After Week 12

Status quo this week without much change. At this point I think we are looking at a couple of things. The first is seeing how the Chargers & Colts find their way into the playoffs. Along with the Steelers, Ravens, Patriots & Jets, I think these are the 6 best teams in the AFC & would give us an amazing stretch of playoff games. The other thing to watch is how the Packers get into the playoff from this point. Right now the Packers are the #8 seed which is two spots behind the last wild card team. I still think Green Bay wins the North & could also capture that #2 seed behind Atlanta, but they have a little work to do.

I’m using Football Outsiders Playoff Odds numbers to add another facet of the playoff reports each week.

AFC Playoff Seedings After Week 12

1. New York Jets 9-2 (Last Week #1; 96.5% chance of making playoffs)
2. Baltimore Ravens 8-3 (#2; 88.5%)
3. Kansas City Chiefs 7-4 (#3; 51.9%)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-5 (#4; 16.8%)
5. New England Patriots 9-2 (#5; 97.5%)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-3 (#6; 96.1%)
7. San Diego Chargers 6-5 (#9; 57.0%)
8. Indianapolis Colts 6-5 (#7; 46.8%)
9. Miami Dolphins 6-5 (#10; 8.2%)
10. Houston Texans 5-6 (#12; 9.9%)
11. Tennessee Titans 5-6 (#11; 28.3%)
12. Oakland Raiders 5-6 (#8; 2.3%)
13. Cleveland Browns 4-7 (#13; 0.2%)
14. Denver Broncos 3-8 (#14; 0.0%)
15. Buffalo Bills 2-9 (#15; 0.0%)
16. Cincinnati Bengals 2-9 (#16; 0.0%)

BIG WINNERS = SAN DIEGO CHARGERS & HOUSTON TEXANS: Very tough to make huge jumps this late in the season with the records fairly set. Both San Diego & Houston are the big winners this week by moving only 2 spots higher in the playoff seedings. San Diego has done on a tear winning 4 straight games to get to 6-5 with only one game separating them from the Chiefs atop the AFC West. I certainly looks like the Chargers could win out. The Chiefs cannot allow that to happen if they want to make the playoffs. While San Diego is a product of their own doing, Houston is getting quite a bit of help from Indianapolis & Tennessee completely falling apart. The Texans really aren’t as bad as their 5-6 record would indicate. They have a lot of talent all over the football field so it’s odd to see them struggle like this. Still, they aren’t out of it yet especially with the AFC South going down the drain.

BIG LOSERS = OAKLAND RAIDERS: Two weeks ago the Raiders were in 1st place in the AFC West with a #4 seed in the AFC playoffs. In the following two weeks, the Raiders have gotten blown out by both the Dolphins & Steelers while Kansas City & San Diego have gone 2-0 in their games. Now the Raiders sit at the 12th seed in the AFC with a very difficult 5 games left to play. Dropping 8 spots in 2 weeks is a huge problem, but Oakland could drop even further depending on what Cleveland does.

BIGGEST GAINERS IN PLAYOFF % = HOUSTON TEXANS +7.7%: No huge moves here. The Texans increased their playoff odds by 7.7% & they still remain only a 9.9% shot to make the playoffs. Frankly the Texans could be the South’s biggest shot to actually win a playoff game. The Texans can be utterly explosive on offense & Arian Foster is having an outstanding season. The defense is downright terrible, but maybe they can outscore somebody? It would be pretty interesting to see Matt Schaub in the playoffs.

BIGGEST LOSERS IN PLAYOFF % = TENNESSEE TITANS -11.9%: How bad has it gotten for Tennessee? With Rusty Smith as the QB, teams are simply begging the rookie to beat them by ganging up on Chris Johnson. After seeing what happened to Frank Gore this past Monday night, you almost wonder if the Titans would be better served by protecting their most valuable possession & chalking up the 2010 season to bad luck without a plausible QB. It would be one of the biggest face turns in NFL history, if not the biggest, but I’m secretly hoping Peyton Manning doesn’t resign with the Colts & switches over to Tennessee. I like Indianapolis, but I like Peyton more & you could almost see the Titans winning 2-3 Super Bowls with Manning as their QB. That team is one QB away from being dynastic.

GUARANTEED PLAYOFF TEAMS = NONE: The Patriots, Jets & Steelers are moving into guaranteed status with all 3 teams being over 96% locks to make the playoffs. If the Steelers & which ever AFC East team wins between the Jets/Pats, you would think they’d be at playoff lock status if not dangerously close..

COMPLETELY ELIMINATED = CINCINNATI BENGALS, DENVER BRONCOS & BUFFALO BILLS: The Broncos join the Bengals & Bills as being completely eliminated from playoff contention. It has been interesting seeing some reports about the possibility of playing Tim Tebow at QB now that the Broncos have nothing to play for. It’s a completely absurd statement. Kyle Orton for the season has completed 62% of his passes while throwing for 3,370 yards with 20TD to only 6 interceptions. Yeah, that is the guy that needs to be benched! Are you kidding me?

OVERALL ANALYSIS: The AFC is taking shape. There were no changes among the top-6 teams from a week ago & 8 of the top-9 teams from last week remain in the top-9 this week. Unless disaster strikes, the Steelers, Ravens, Patriots & Jets are all playoff bound. We’ll have to wait and see who comes out of the South & West although I suspect the Colts & Chargers get there although seeing the Chiefs & Texans in their place wouldn’t be horrible if only for a change of pace.

NFC Playoff Seeding After Week 11

1. Atlanta Falcons 9-2 (Last Week #1; 97.6% chance of making playoffs)
2. Chicago Bears 8-3 (#3; 56.7%)
3. Philadelphia Eagles 7-4 (#2; 75.9%)
4. St. Louis Rams 5-6 (#10; 28.7%)
5. New Orleans Saints 8-3 (#5; 87.0%)
6. New York Giants 7-4 (#8; 62.6%)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-4 (#7; 47.9%)
8. Green Bay Packers 7-4 (#6; 70.3%)
9. Seattle Seahawks 5-6 (#4; 39.6%)
10. Washington Redskins 5-6 (#9; 1.9%)
11. Minnesota Vikings 4-7 (#11; 0.1%)
12. San Francisco 49ers 4-7 (#13; 30.3%)
13. Arizona Cardinals 3-8 (#14; 1.4%)
14. Dallas Cowboys 3-8 (#12; 0.0%)
15. Detroit Lions 2-9 (#15; 0.0%)
16. Carolina Panthers 1-10 (#16; 0.0%)

BIG WINNERS = ST. LOUIS RAMS: Last week we had a reprieve from the NFC West debacle. This week with the Seahawks getting hammered at home by the Chiefs, we are back to where we started playing musical chairs on a week to week basis with the West teams. The Rams beat the Broncos this past week, but when you look at their remaining schedule, it certainly does look like they have a win or two left on the schedule unless they can pull off some surprises. Then again, a couple of wins would put them at 7-9 which might be enough to make the playoffs!

BIG LOSERS = SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Oddly enough it only looks like the Seahawks have a couple of wins left on their resume including a home date with the Rams. That would put Seattle at 7-9. In a darker side of me, I wouldn’t mind seeing Pete Carroll guide the 7-9 Seahawks into the playoffs and then go on a huge tear ending with Pete hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. What a great big “F YOU” to everyone that would be from Carroll. He could prove all his detractors wrong & he could tell the college world to go screw off with all their sanctions during his time at USC. Pete does it his way!

BIGGEST GAINERS IN PLAYOFF % = CHICAGO BEARS +25.8%: The Bears get a huge bump for a couple of reasons. I’m not sure that projection systems forecasting the rest of the NFL season before the Bears beat Philadelphia factored in much of a chance that Chicago would beat Philadelphia. Combine that with Green Bay’s loss to Atlanta & all of a sudden the Bears have the 2nd best record in the NFC with an effective 2-game lead over the Packers. If they can hold on & beat the Jets at home, I think they can finish 3-2 putting them at 11-5 which probably should be enough to get into the playoffs although the NFC East is tricky. Then again, I could see the Bears going 0-5, finishing 8-8 & Lovie Smith out of a job.

BIGGEST LOSERS IN PLAYOFF % = SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -22.9%: See above about the Seahawks. I cannot believe how much computer space I’ve taken up on this blog talking about teams from the NFC West. Good grief I hope they are better next season.

GUARANTEED PLAYOFF TEAMS = NONE: The Falcons are the only team over 90% meaning the NFC has quite a bit left to determine. The Saints are almost locks at 87% but quite a few things are still up in the air with the other three divisions outside of the NFC South.

COMPLETELY ELIMINATED = DALLAS COWBOYS, DETROIT LIONS & CAROLINA PANTHERS: Jason Garrett got his first loss as Cowboys HC this past week when Dallas lost to New Orleans 30-27 on a late TD pass by Drew Brees. Even if Dallas runs the table there is no way 8-8 gets them in, but more importantly the last 5 games of the schedule aren’t exactly easy for Dallas. They have to play the Eagles twice along with the Colts (on the road) & Redskins. They do travel to Arizona which probably should be a win, but ending the season 4-12 or 5-11 seems extremely likely. Wake Phillips may have started the year 1-7, but Jason Garrett is only going to finish it 3-5 or 4-4. That’s improvement, but not that much.

OVERALL ANALYSIS: I hate to say this, but the interesting thing heading down the stretch could be the NFC West. If things go according to plan next week, the 49ers should be 4-8 while the Seahawks & Rams improve to 6-6 assuming the Rams can win on the road in Arizona & Seattle can beat the 1-10 Panthers at home. In Week 14 the Seahawks play the 49ers in San Francisco while the Rams are in New Orleans. If the 49ers win at home then after Week 14 the Seahawks & Rams should be 6-7 while the 49ers will be 5-8. In week 15 the 49ers & Seahawks are probably locks to lose as they play the Chargers & Falcons respectively. The Rams get a home game against the Chiefs which I’m going to assume they lose. That puts Seattle & St. Louis at 6-8 with San Francisco at 5-9. Week 16 gets a little tricky & could be the pivotal week. If SF can travel to STL & win, while Seattle loses at TB, it would mean all the teams would be 6-9. If the Rams win it would put St. Louis at 7-8, Seattle at 6-9 & San Francisco at 5-10. The 49ers would be eliminated. However if everyone is 6-9 going into Week 17 we get the following:

Arizona @ San Francisco
St. Louis @ Seattle

Assuming the home teams win, SF & SEA would be 7-9 the 49ers would be 5-1 in the division which would put them into the playoffs. If St. Louis were to beat San Francisco at home in Week 16, it would set up the St. Louis @ Seattle game. If Seattle prevailed at home the winner would be 7-9, but in this case the Rams would be 3-3 in the division & Seattle would be 4-2 meaning the Seahawks would be the division champion and head to the playoffs. The Rams need to get to 8-8 because they are in tiebreaker hell otherwise.

WILD CARD MATCHUPS

#6 Pittsburgh Steelers @ #3 Kansas City Chiefs
#5 New England Patriots @ #4 Jacksonville Jaguars
#6 New York Giants @ #3 Philadelphia Eagles
#5 New Orleans Saints @ #4 St. Louis Rams

The AFC matchups are the same as last week. The NFC is a little different with the only real headliner being a Giants/Eagles tile in Philly. Outside of that game, these are formalities as I think the Steelers, Patriots & Saints blow out their opponents.

With the playoffs as they stand, I think the most likely Super Bowl is Patriots/Falcons. That all changes though if the playoffs set up different. I think San Diego & Indianapolis eventually find their way in which makes the Wild Card games IMMENSELY different. I also think the Packers get into the playoffs which in my opinion would make them the team to beat.

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December 2, 2010 - Posted by | NFL Playoffs, Week 12

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