Fantasy Gunslinger

Football with an Emphasis on Fantasy & Gambling

2017 NFL PLAYOFF SEEDINGS AFTER WEEK 16

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NFC ANALYSIS

NFC EAST: The win over Oakland on Christmas day sealed the #1 overall seed in the NFC for the Eagles. They can rest their players against the Cowboys knowing that every road to the Super Bowl leads through Philadelphia. Getting a huge amount of rest would be ideal for the Eagles. Historically speaking, Philadelphia could not have put themselves in a better position. The big loser  from the NFC East this past week is the Dallas Cowboys. Knowing the Eagles have the #1 seed locked up, Dallas probably could have expected to go into Philly to face a bunch of 2nd string players in a must win game had they beaten the Seahawks. The Cowboys would have needed Atlanta to lose next week to secure the last wild card spot, but that wasn’t out of the question given that Atlanta is playing Carolina. Because of their home loss to the Seahawks, Dallas is eliminated from playoff contention.

NFC NORTH: The Vikings currently hold the #2 seed, but they can’t afford to take Week 17 off for extending rest. If the Saints lose to Tampa Bay, Carolina beats Atlanta & the Vikings lose their season finale to the Bears in Minnesota, the Vikings would lose the #2 spot and drop to the #3 seed which would force Minnesota into a wild card game. The Vikings hold the tiebreaker over the Saints so should the Vikings lose & Saints win (& Panthers lose), Minnesota would still retain the #2 seed. You can be sure that Minnesota is going to try & put the Bears away early in order to at least give their starters an extra half of rest & secure that first round bye.

NFC SOUTH: The Saints & Panthers have already clinched a playoff spot. New Orleans could potentially fall to the #5 seed should they lose & Carolina wins. I doubt that happens as New Orleans finishes up against Tampa Bay, but you never know. I’ve already outlined how Carolina can jump all the way to the #2 seed should things fall their way. It would be interesting to see that happen although I don’t think Chicago beats Minnesota so it’s a moot point. The one team still fighting is Atlanta. If the Falcons can win at home against Carolina, Atlanta secures the #6 seed & will head to LA to face the Rams unless the Rams lose their season finale against the 49ers in LA. If that were to happen then Atlanta goes back to New Orleans for the 2nd time in 3 weeks and the 3rd time in 5 weeks! Crazy. It is worth noting that if the Panthers don’t feel like New Orleans is going to lose, they could rest their players next week. Carolina is LOCKED into the #5 seed at this point. That’s the WORST they could do. If they don’t think the Vikings lose then at best they could be the #3 seed which means they’d host a playoff game, but they’d still be playing the wild card. Do you get an extra week of healing?

NFC WEST: The Rams clinched the division so the worst they can do is the 4th seed. If they lose to San Francisco then the Rams fall to #4 unless both New Orleans & Carolina lose which would then still ensure the Rams take home the #3 seed. LA cannot reach up to the #2 seed as they lost to Minnesota earlier in the year & the best the Rams can do is equal the Vikings record. The Seahawks are still playoff viable but they need to beat the Cardinals in their season finale & hope the Falcons lose to Carolina. If that happens then Seattle gets the last wild card spot. If they lose they’re done. If Atlanta wins, they’re done.

WILD CARD GAMES AFTER WEEK 16

#6 ATLANTA @ #3 LOS ANGELES
#5 CAROLINA @ #4 NEW ORLEANS

No changes from last week although this seems a little fluid at this point. If I had to guess I’d say this is how the wild games play out. It’s difficult to think the Vikings lose to Chicago or that the Saints lose to Tampa Bay. Even though they’ve been playing extremely well of late, it’s also hard to think the Rams fall to the 49ers in Los Angeles. That cements the top-5 seeds. The only variable left is whether or not it will be Atlanta or Carolina in the #6 seed. I mentioned earlier that Carolina could rest up this week and give up a loss to Atlanta. That seems like something that could happen, but keep in mind that if things hold out & Carolina ends up the #5 seed, they’ll head to New Orleans to face a Saints team that has already beaten them twice. If that is the case, Carolina might come to Atlanta motivated to play & pray that somehow the Saints lose. That could potentially push Carolina up to the #3 seed depending on what happens with the Rams & it would give the Panthers a home game against Atlanta in the wild card. At worst it would at least allow Carolina to take on the Saints at home instead of New Orleans!



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AFC ANALYSIS

AFC EAST: The Patriots won the East awhile back so the division isn’t in question, but there are a couple of interesting scenarios for New England & Buffalo. The Patriots can still lose the #1 seed if they lose next week to the Jets & the Steelers beat Cleveland in their season finale. If that happens New England still gets a first round bye but they would lose the #1 seed and potentially have to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh, something I’m guessing the Patriots would love to avoid although if you go look at Brady’s record in the Steel City, you’d think it wouldn’t matter. The Bills can still get into the playoffs with help. They need to win and also get losses from the Titans & Chargers. The other way the Bills can sneak in is if they win and the Ravens lose. Regardless, Buffalo needs to beat Miami so they’ll hope that bad Jay Cutler shows up!

AFC NORTH: Pittsburgh can’t fall lower than the #2 seed at this point. The only way the Steelers can secure the #1 seed is if they win next week over Cleveland and the Patriots lose to the Jets. All signs point to an AFC Championship game of Pittsburgh at New England. It seems inevitable at this point. The Ravens at 9-6 currently hold the #4 slot which means an opening wild card game in Kansas City if the season ended today. If they win next week against the Bengals, Baltimore will clinch the #5 seed. Even if they lose next week, they’ll still get in if either the Bills or Titans lose. For all intents & purposes, the Ravens are a given at #5.

AFC SOUTH: The Jaguars have clinched the South and can’t fall below the #3 seed. This is good news for the Titans as the Jaguars travel to Nashville for their season finale and there is really no point in playing the starters. To be honest, Jacksonville might be better off not playing the starters. I think of all the potential wild card teams, Tennessee is by far the weakest. Giving the Titans a win pretty much ensures the Jags would host the Titans the following week. Beating Tennessee and the Jaguars might have to face the Chargers which is something I doubt very seriously the Jaguars want to do with Blake Bortles as QB. This quirky strategy is one of the fun parts of Week 17 football.

AFC WEST: KC’s win over Miami this past week secured the AFC West, but the Chiefs can’t beat the Jaguars in a head to head so Week 17 doesn’t matter too much. No matter what happens, the Chiefs are the #4 seed and likely playing the Ravens on wild card weekend. The Chargers are still in it and need help. Of all the likely teams for the #6 seed, the most obvious team to benefit is LA given what needs to happen, but this is a double edged sword. The Chargers were severely hampered by Jacksonville’s loss to San Francisco. For LA to get into the playoffs they need the Ravens to beat Cincinnati. Not a big deal right? But they also need the Jaguars to beat the Titans. If Jacksonville had beaten the 49ers then the Jags would have something to play for in Week 17 because if they had beat the Titans and the Steelers had loss  to the Browns, Jacksonville would have the #2 seed. Now the game against Tennessee doesn’t mean anything and Jacksonville is locked into the #3 seed win or lose. The Jags have nothing to play for while the Titans have EVERYTHING to play for. If Tennessee beats Jacksonville, then the Chargers are out regardless if they beat Oakland. And like I said, the Jaguars would probably rather face the Titans and Chargers. Not only do they benefit their starters by resting them in Week 17, they also would benefit by playing a weaker team in the wild card game if they lost. Lady Luck never takes a day off when it comes to screwing the Chargers over.

WILD CARD GAMES AFTER WEEK 15

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

Now the picture is clear. This is the likely scenario. I’d love to see the Chargers sneak into that #6 spot, but unless the Jaguars really play in Week 17 or the Titans have a terrible game, I think Tennessee wins. What’s interesting to me about this scenario is the game between the Chiefs & Ravens. Joe Flacco has never went to the playoffs and not won a game. If that trend holds, Baltimore beats Kansas City & then heads off to New England (I don’t think the Titans beat Jacksonville 3x in one season!). The Ravens season probably ends in Foxboro, but I wonder what the fall out is in Kansas City? There was talk earlier in the season of rookie QB Pat Mahomes getting into the starting lineup and I wonder if the Chiefs will feel like Alex Smith has taken them as far as he can. The Andy Reid/Alex Smith partnership has a lot of miles on it at this point. Could they make a change?

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December 26, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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