Fantasy Gunslinger

Football with an Emphasis on Fantasy & Gambling

2017 NFL PLAYOFF SEEDINGS AFTER WEEK 9

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NFC ANALYSIS

I’m going to analyze a little different this week. Instead of going by division I’m going to go by team and tell you why the teams rank where they do and how this affects the teams. Hopefully it is a bit more instructive as I felt looking at the divisions felt more like a mini-review rather than any strategy purposes.

1. Eagles: At 8-1 the Eagles are easily atop the NFC. The Eagles have 3 tough remaining road games against the Cowboys, Rams & Seahawks with all 3 games coming in the 4 weeks after the bye. If the Eagles lose all 3 they’d still be 12-4 but would that be good enough for the #1 seed? Keep in mind that if the Eagles lost those 3 games they’d have a conference record of 9-3. They’d also lose out on the tiebreaker to either the Rams or Seahawks should one of those teams equal Philly’s 12-4 record. The Eagles are the likely #1 overall seed, but it isn’t sewn up yet.

2. – 4. Saints, Vikings, Rams: All 3 teams are 6-2 and 1.5GB the Eagles. The three teams haven’t played each other so it defaults to conference record. The #2 Saints are 5-1 in the NFC, the #3 Vikings are 4-1 and the #4 Rams are 4-2. The takeaway here is that New Orleans now sets up as the #2 seed which means a home game in the divisional round, and that gives the Saints a huge advantage toward getting to the NFC Championship game. New Orleans has 4 road games left against the Falcons, Rams, Bills & Bucs. Assuming they go 1-3, they’ll still wind up 11-5. Minnesota has 5 road games left & a home date against the Rams while the Rams most likely have to contend with the Seahawks in their own division. Yes the Rams are up 6-2 to 5-3 in record, but Seattle beat LA earlier in the year so another win by Seattle would push LA into the Wild Card with the Seahawks getting that wild card home game. The Rams have 4 road games left & should win one (at Arizona) meaning they could easily go 11-5.

5. Panthers: The Panthers are the only 6-3 team in the NFC and are just a 1/2 game behind the Saints due to them playing an extra game. I think Carolina is a tricky team moving forward. I’m not sure how good of a team they are overall, but the defense is very solid & they play only 3 road games in their last 7. If they can sneak a road win in against the Jets, they’ll finish 11-5 which almost certainly pushes them into the playoffs if not the division title should New Orleans falter. Carolina is quiet but dangerous.

6.-7. Cowboys & Seahawks: Dallas slides into the last Wild Card spot because they have a better conference record than Seattle, 4-2 to 3-2. That will even out over time. The Cowboys at 5-3 are 2.5GB the Eagles who are 8-1, but Dallas has yet to play Philly. If the Cowboys sweep Philly and all things even out, Dallas would actually win the NFC East. I think the NFC is pretty well settled in with the top-7 teams. One of Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Carolina, and maybe even New Orleans isn’t going to make the playoffs depending on how things shake out, but I think the top-7 teams seem a cut above the rest. If the Cowboys can hold serve at home (won’t be easy) then they have tough road games against the Eagles & Falcons which could put them at 11-5 to end the season. I don’t think that would be enough to win the East over Philly, but it should be good enough for the Wild Card. It’s hard to see Seattle losing at home so their only possibilities are on the road & they have a couple they could lose when they travel to Jacksonville & Dallas. That would still put Seattle at 11-5.

8.-12. Falcons, Lions, Redskins, Packers, Cardinals: All 4 of these teams are 4-4. The Lions are ahead of Green Bay in the North via the head-to-head. Atlanta, Detroit & Washington haven’t all played one another so it goes to conference record which Atlanta wins. Then you get Detroit v. Washington and Detroit wins that via conference record. Washington then beats Green Bay via conference record. Green Bay is over Arizona via Strength of Victory as the Cardinals haven’t been anyone & 2 of their wins have come against the 49ers! All of these teams are technically in the race, but all 4 teams have flaws. Atlanta doesn’t make sense here, but they can’t seem to play to their potential & with Carolina & New Orleans playing well, the Falcons look like the odd team out given that the South isn’t getting 3 teams in. With that said, it is worth noting that all 4 teams are just one game behind in the Wild Card spot. Conference record will come into play at some point & the Falcons are 3-1 in the NFC. Detroit & Green Bay are two games behind Minnesota in the North and I don’t think they can catch them. I don’t think there is any way Arizona makes a push even though technically they are just 1 game behind Seattle and 2 games behind Los Angeles. These teams are definitely behind the 8-ball.

13. Chicago: The Bears are done at 3-5. The Bears are interesting though in that they have 4 remaining home games they could win which means they could win 7 games! They also play the Bengals & Lions on the road. Tough games for Chicago but games they at least could potentially win. Assuming they defend home and steal a couple of road games, Chicago could wind up 9-7 which would be remarkable. I don’t think that gets them into the playoffs, but what a success 9 wins would be.

14. Tampa Bay: EEK. I’m not sure where the wins are with the Bucs. Tampa is 2-6 at the half way point and there aren’t a lot of wins on the schedule.

15. NY Giants: The G-Men are toast. HC Ben McAdoo might be losing the team and there is talk of benching Eli Manning. The Manning era in New York seems to be coming to a close and unfortunately the ending doesn’t look very pleasant.

16. San Francisco: It’s all about seeing what they have in Jimmy Garappolo.

WILD CARD GAMES AFTER WEEK 9

#6 DALLAS @ #3 MINNESOTA
#5 CAROLINA @ #4 LOS ANGELES

Now were talking! Cowboys/Vikings have a long history of fights in the playoffs. Mike Zimmer has that Dallas Cowboys connection! Carolina & Los Angeles isn’t necessarily sexy but when was the last time we had a playoff game in the Coliseum? I still think the most exciting thing about LA having that #4 seed and the Eagles have the #1 is the potential divisional game between the Eagles & Rams which would gives us Jared Goff v. Carson Wentz who were the first two selections in the 2016 NFL Draft. That assumes the #3 seed would win which is no given in the Dallas/Minnesota scenario, but that brings it’s own set of excitement as a Dallas win from the #6 seed means we’d get Round 3 of Eagles/Cowboys!



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AFC ANALYSIS

1.-2. Steelers, Patriots: Both teams are 6-2 but Pittsburgh still has the #1 seed right now because of conference record. The two teams will play each other in Week 15 at Heinz Field! The Steelers are primed to finish 14-2 which would give them the #1 seed in the AFC. The Steelers have 3 road games left against the Colts, Bengals & Texans. If they can defend home turf, a 14-2 record seems likely. The Patriots are in much the same boat when it comes to competition. They have a couple of road games against Buffalo & Pittsburgh, but it looks like the Patriots are 12-4/13-3. One thing for New England to keep in mind is that they must finish better than Kansas City because the Chiefs beat the Patriots in Week 1 this season. If both KC & NE finish with the same record in that #2-#3 seed, New England will host a wild card game & then go on the road in the divisional round.

3. Chiefs: Losing at Dallas isn’t in the end of the world and the 6-3 Chiefs are in cruise control in the West. KC only has 3 road games left against the Giants, Jets & Broncos. The Jets could be tricky (ask Buffalo), but at worst the Chiefs are 12-4. At this point the big game within the game is KC v. New England. The Chiefs need to tie or be better than the Patriots in order to place higher than them due to KC’s head to head victory. Kansas City definitely needs New England to lose 1-2 road games, but that also means KC has to be perfect the rest of the way.

4. Titans: Tennessee at 5-3 is the AFC South leader because they beat Jacksonville in their only meeting so far this season. The Jaguars will get a chance to rectify this situation down the road. The Titans have a solid chance to have a great season. Their remaining road games come against the Steelers, Colts, Cardinals & 49ers. Frankly Tennessee should be 3-1 in those games. If they win their home games, that would mean a final record of 12-4! That’s insane. They do have home games remaining against the Jaguars & Rams. But even if they drop those two games, Tennesee could easily finish 10-6! Would that be enough to grab a wild card spot? Would it be enough to win the South?

5.-6. Jaguars & Bills: Both teams are 5-3 but the Jaguars get the #5 seed due to conference record (5-2 to 3-2). Jacksonville, like Tennessee, has a chance to have a very special season. They have 4 remaining road games against Browns, Cardinals, 49ers & Titans. If if they lose to Tennessee that’s 3-1. Defend home & the Jags are 12-4! The only tough home game they have left is Seattle so even if they lose to the Seahawks they’ll be 11-5. The schedule sets up well for Jacksonville to win the South, but even if the Titans wind up 12-4, I think Jacksonville gets into the playoffs at 11-5. The Bills are just 1 game behind the Patriots & have yet to play New England meaning Buffalo is still a viable player to win the East. Buffalo has a tough road though. Last week they lost a road game to the Jets and they have remaining road games against the Chiefs, Patriots & Chargers. They also have home games against the Patriots & Saints. That’s a tough schedule that could see Buffalo slip to 8-8. Of the top-6 teams, Buffalo has the roughest shot to maintain their current pace, but beating New England would solve a lot of problems.

7. Dolphins: Amazingly enough the Dolphins are 4-4 and just a game out of the Wild Card. Despite them being the 7 seed at the moment, they’re done. They have 4 remaining road games against the Panthers, Patriots, Bills & Chiefs. All 4 teams will have a considerable amount to play for. That puts Miami at 8 losses there. They also have home games against the Patriots & Bills with both teams having motivation to steal a road win. Miami looks like a 9-10 loss team right now.

8.-10. Ravens, Raiders & Jets: All of these teams are 4-5. They all haven’t played each other so the Ravens are the #8 seed via conference record. The Raiders get the #9 seed because they beat the Jets in Week 2. I think the Jets could get to 7-8 wins if they get lucky but that’s about it. The remaining schedule is too tough. Baltimore is sort of interesting. Their remaining road games come against the Packers, Steelers & Browns. If they can go 2-1 in those games and defend their home territory, Baltimore winds up 10-6 with a conference record of 8-4. They’ll be fairly well off although they’ll need to get by Buffalo because Baltimore loses tiebreakers to both Tennessee & Jacksonville which would hurt them if the Ravens wound up with the same record as the 2nd place team in the South. The Ravens aren’t out of it by a long shot. Oakland is an interesting team here but their remaining schedule is nasty. They have road games against the Chiefs, Eagles & Chargers while getting home games against the Patriots & Cowboys. That would point towards a 6-10 season. If these 3 teams, the Ravens are viable.

11.-14. Texans, Bengals, Chargers, Broncos: LA beat Oakland so the Chargers own the tiebreaker. Houston, Cincinnati & Los Angeles haven’t all played each other so we default to conference record. Cincinnati & Houston are 3-4 in the AFC while LA is 2-4. Houston beat Cincinnati earlier so the Texans get the #11 seed followed by Cincy at #12, LA at #13 and Oakland at #14. All of these are flawed teams obviously. Houston is without their QB. The Bengals sort of stink. The Chargers are the unluckiest team in the universe and the Broncos have QB issues. The only interesting team is Los Angeles who could win out given their talent level. The Chargers have road games against the Cowboys, Jaguars & Chiefs so winning out wouldn’t exactly be easy, but if the Bolts do catch lightning they’d finish 11-5.

15. Colts: Is it possible Jacoby Brissett is the answer? The Colts are flirting with losing a high draft pick and I’m inclined to think they’ll lose quite a few games, BUT what if the Colts traded Andrew Luck and kept Brissett?

16. Browns: The Browns seem destined to get the #1 overall pick in 2018 given that the 49ers might win a game or two with Garappolo as their QB. The trick now is wondering when Cleveland is going to win a game. They’ll get the Packers at home without Aaron Rodgers. Maybe that is how they get to 1-15.

WILD CARD GAMES AFTER WEEK 9

#6 BUFFALO @ #3 KANSAS CITY
#5 JACKSONVILLE @ #4 TENNESSEE

The Ravens could disrupt things, but I think the top-6 in the AFC are pretty set. Except for Tennessee & Jacksonville flipping eventually (which won’t matter in this scenario) I think even these games seem set. These are pretty interesting games in that we’ll see a competitive Bills team in the playoffs for the first time in what seems like forever combined with round 3 of Jaguars/Titans. What is wild about the AFC is that in the wild card you have Alex Smith, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor & Marcus Mariota battling it out in the Wild Card. The two QBs with bye weeks? That would be Tom Brady & Ben Roethlisberger! Some things never change!

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November 7, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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