What does your team need to do to make the playoffs?

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THIS POST IS OUT OF DATE! CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED VERSION!

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This post will be similar to the posts I did last year. I will be laying out for each team what they need to do to make the playoffs, clinch their division, get a first-round bye, and/or get the #1 seed in their conference. First let’s layout what the NFL playoffs would look like if the season ended right now.

In the AFC the seeding would be as follows: 1. Indianapolis Colts, 2. San Diego Charger, 3. Cincinnati Bengals, 4. New England Patriots, 5. Denver Broncos, 6. Jacksonville Jaguars.

(NB: I was going to explain how the Jags still have the second wild-card spot but Paul Kuharsky -one of my favorite writers at ESPN.com- beat me to it, so I’ll just link you to that. To view it click here.)

In the NFC: 1. New Orleans Saints, 2. Minnesota Vikings, 3. Philadelphia Eagles, 4. Arizona Cardinals, 5. Green Bay Packers, 6. Dallas Cowboys.

However, nine of the 12 teams I just listed are still in danger of not making the playoffs at all. To determine how much danger they are in and what the other teams in the league need to do and have happen from them to replace one of those teams I will be using the NFL’s official tie-breaking procedures to see who needs to win which games to reach the postseason.  I will be grouping the teams into six categories (AI, COD, HAC, CFH, MML, AO – you’ll see what it all stands for below) to separate them by mathematical probability of making it to the playoffs. Here are the categories:

1. Teams already in (AI) – Pretty self explanatory:

  • Indianapolis Colts – Already locked up the first overall seed in the AFC.
  • New Orleans Saints – Already locked up a top-2 seeding in the NFC.
  • Minnesota Vikings – Already locked up a playoff spot.

2. Teams that control their own destiny (COD) – If they win the rest of their games they make the playoffs:

  • Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

3. Teams that still have a decent chance (HAC) – Either currently losing the tie-breaker or are one game back for the last wild-card spot and/or the lead in their division:

  • New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, and Tennessee Titans.

4. Teams that if you’re a fan of you should cross your fingers and hope (CFH) – Two games behind the last wild-card spot and/or the division lead:

  • Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, and Buffalo Bills.

5. Teams that make me laugh (MML) – because it’s still somehow mathematically possible for them to make the playoffs:

  • Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, and Seattle Seahawks.

6. Teams already out (AO) – Pretty self explanatory:

  • Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cleveland Browns.

Now that we’ve got the teams grouped together nicely let’s do a team-by-team break down. I’ll start with the teams in Group 1 and work down through the teams in Group 6:

(NB: If a team win their division they automatically make the playoffs. I won’t have any overlapping possibilities in any categories though. This means that anything under the “to clinch the division” section for each team won’t also be put under the “to make the playoffs section” because it is already understood to be a possible way for the given team to make the playoffs. The same goes for the “to get a first-round bye” and “to get the #1 seed” categories, because in order to get either of those you must win your division.)

Group 1 – AI:

Indianapolis Colts:

  • To make the playoffs – already done
  • To clinch the division – already done
  • To get a first-round bye – already done
  • To get the #1 seed in AFC – already done

(NB2: I won’t be including this category for the rest of the AFC teams because it’s obviously impossible for all of them to get the #1 seed with the Colts having already clinched it.)

New Orleans Saints:

  • To make the playoffs – already done
  • To clinch the division – already done
  • To get a first-round bye – already done
  • To get the #1 seed in NFC –
  1. Win two more games(or win one and tie one).

  2. Win one more game and the Vikings lose one more game (or if they tie one game and the Vikings lose one game, or if they win one game and the Vikings tie one game).

  3. The Vikings lose two more games (or lose one and tie one).

Minnesota Vikings:

  • To make the playoffs – already done
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win one more game.
      2. The Packers lose one more game (or tie in one game).
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Win two more games (or win one and tie one).
      2. Both the Eagles and Packers get one more loss.
      3. Win one more game and the Eagles lose one more game (or tie one more game).
  • To get the #1 seed in NFC –
      1. Win two more games and the Saints lose all three remaining games.
      2. Win all three (or win two and tie one) remaining games and the Saints lose two games.

(NB3: I will also be eliminating the #1 seed category from the rest of the NFC teams because only the Saints and Vikings are able to get it at this point.)

Group 2 – COD:

Philadelphia Eagles:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Win one more game.
      2. The Giants lose one more game.
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win all three remaining games.
      2. Just beat the Cowboys in week 17.
      3. Win two more games and Dallas loses one more game or ties one more game.
      4. Win one more game and Dallas loses two more games (or wins one and ties one).
      5. Tie one more game and Dallas loses two more games.
      6. Dallas loses all three of their remaining games (or wins two and ties one.)
  1. To get a first-round bye –
      1. Win two more games and the Vikings lose all three of their remaining games and Dallas loses or ties one of their remaining games and the Packers lose one more game.
      2. Win all three remaining games and the Vikings lose two more games and the Packers lose or tie one more game.

Arizona Cardinals:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Win one more game and the Giants lose one more game and the Packers lose all three of their remaining games and the Cowboys lose two more games.
      2. Lose all three remaining games but the Cowboys lose all three of their games and the Giants lose two more of their games and the Falcons would have to lose two more games or lose one and tie one.
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win two more games or win one and tie one.
      2. Win one more game (or tie one) and the 49ers lose one game.
      3. Win no more games but have the 49ers lose two games.
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Win all three remaining games and have the Vikings lose all three of their remaining games and the Eagles lose one more game (but it would have to be to the 49ers or Cowboys) or lose any two of their remaining three games.

New England Patriots:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. They win two games and the Jaguars lose or tie one more game.
      2. They win one game and the Jaguars lose two more games (or win one and tie one) and the Ravens lose two more games (or win one and tie one) and the Texans lose or tie one more game and the Steelers lose or tie one more game.
      3. They cannot lose all three games and get a wild-card spot because one of their remaining three games is to the Jags and even if that was the only game the Jags won and all the other current 7-6 lost their last three games, both the Jags and Pats would be 8-8 but the Jags would have the tie-breaker. They could still technically win the division though (see below).
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win all three games or win two and tie one.
      2. They win two more games and the Dolphins lose or tie a game.
      3. They win one more game and the Dolphins lose two games (or win one and tie one) and the Jets lose one game.
      4. They lose all three remaining games but the Dolphins lose all three remaining games (or lose two and tie one) and the Jets lose two games and the Bills lose or tie one game.
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Win all three remaining games and the Broncos lose or tie one game and the Chargers lose all three remaining games (or lose two and tie one or lose just two games but it would have to be to the Titans and Bengals) and the Bengals lose two (or lose one and tie one or lose to just the Jets in week 17).
      2. Win two more games and the Chargers lose all three remaining games and the Bengals lose two more games (one would have to be a loss to the Jets in week 17) and the Broncos lose two more games (or lose one and tie one).

Cincinnati Bengals:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Lose all three remaining games and the Jaguars lose two more games (or lose one and tie one) and the Dolphins lose two more games (or lose one and tie one) and the Jets lose two more games (or lose one and tie one) and the Texans lose (or tie) one more game.
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win one more game.
      2. The Ravens lose one more game.
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Win all three remaining games.
      2. Win two more games and the Chargers lose two more games (one must be to the Bengals) and the Broncos lose or tie one game, and the Patriots lose or tie one game (or the Patriots can win all three of their remaining games but the other win for the Bengals must be against the Jets).
      3. Win one more game and the Chargers lose all three of their remaining games and the Dolphins lose one more game and the Ravens lose one more game and the Broncos lose two games (or lose one and tie one) and the Patriots lose or tie one game.

San Diego Chargers:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Win or tie one more game.
      2. Lose all three remaining games but have the Ravens lose or tie one more game and the Jaguars lose or tie one game and the Jets lose or tie one more game.
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win two more games (or win one and tie one)
      2. The Broncos lose one more game.
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Win all three remaining games (or win two and tie one)
      2. Win two more games and the Bengals lose one more game.
      3. Win one more game and the Broncos lose or tie one more game and the Patriots lose or tie one more game and the Bengals lose two more games (or win one and tie one) or just lose one game, if it’s to the Chargers in week 15.
      4. Lose all three remaining games but the Broncos lose one more game and the Patriots lose one more game and the Ravens lose or tie one more game and the Jaguars lose or tie one game and the Jets lose or tie one more game and the Bengals lose all three of their remaining games (or lose two and tie one) or the Bengals lose just two games but one must be to the Chargers.

Green Bay Packers:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Win two more games (or win one and tie one).
      2. Win one more game and the Giants lose or tie one more game.
      3. Lose all three remaining games but the Giants lose two more games (or lose one and tie one).
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win all three remaining games and the Vikings lose all three of their remaining games (or lose two and tie one).
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Clinch the division and the Eagles lose or tie one more game.

Dallas Cowboys:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Win two more games and the Giants lose or tie one more game.
      2. Win one more game and the Giants lose two more games (or lose one and tie one).
      3. Lose all three remaining games but the Giants lose all three remaining games (or lose two and tie one and the Falcons lose one more game and the 49ers lose one more game and the Panthers lose one more game.
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win all three remaining games.
      2. Win two more games and the Eagles lose two more games (one of them must be to the Cowboys in week 17) and the Giants lose or tie one more game.
      3. Win one more game and the Eagles lose all three remaining games and the Giants lose two more games (or lose one and tie one).
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Win all three remaining games and the Vikings lose all three of their remaining games and the Packers lose two more games (or lose one and tie one) and the Cardinals lose or tie one more game.

Denver Broncos:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Win two more games and the Ravens lose or tie one more game and the Jaguars lose or tie one more game and the Dolphins lose or tie one more game and the Jets lose or tie one more game. (NB: Only three of the four teams – Ravens, Jags, Dolphins and Jets – have to lose or tie one more game.)
      2. Win one more game and the Ravens lose two games (or lose one and tie one) and the Jaguars lose two games (or lose one and tie one) and the Dolphins lose two games (or win one and tie one) and the Jets lose two more games (or lose one and tie one) and the Steelers lose or tie one more game and the Texans lose or tie one more game.
      3. Lose all three remaining games and the Ravens lose all three of their games (or lose two and tie one) and the Jaguars lose all three of their remaining games (or lose two and tie one) and the Dolphins lose all three of their remaining games (or lose two and tie one) and the Jets lose all three of their remaining games (or lose two and tie one) and the Steelers lose two more games (or lose one and tie one) and the Texans lose two more games (or lose one and tie one) and the Titans lose or tie one more game.
  • To clinch the division –
      1. Win all three remaining games and the Chargers lose all three of their remaining games (or lose two and tie one).
  • To get a first-round bye –
      1. Clinch the division and the Bengals lose one more game.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

  • To make the playoffs –
      1. Win all three remaining games.
      2. Win two more games and the Jets lose one more game and the Dolphins lose one more game and the Ravens lose one more game.
      3. Win one more game and the Jets lose two more games and the Dolphins lose two more games and the Ravens lose two more games and the Steelers lose one more game and the Texans lose one more game and the Titans lose one more game.
      4. Lose all three remaining games and have the Jets lose all three of their remaining games and the Dolphins lose all three of their remaining games and the Ravens lose all three of their remaining games and the Steelers lose two more games and the Texans lose two more games and the Titans lose two more games and the Bills lose one more game.
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

At this point I’m going to save the rest of the teams for a second post that I will try to get up before the games on Sunday. Below shows what is even possible for the other teams to accomplish.

Group 3 – SHC:

New York Giants:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division –
  • To get a first-round bye –

Miami Dolphins:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division –
  • To get a first-round bye –

Baltimore Ravens:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division –
  • To get a first-round bye –

New York Jets:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division –
  • To get a first-round bye –

Pittsburgh Steelers:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

Houston Texans:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

Tennessee Titans:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

Group 4 – CFH:

Atlanta Falcons:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

San Francisco 49ers:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division –
  • To get a first-round bye –

Buffalo Bills:

Group 5 – MML:

Oakland Raiders:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

Chicago Bears:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

Carolina Panthers:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

Seattle Seahawks:

  • To make the playoffs –
  • To clinch the division – Impossible
  • To get a first-round bye – Impossible

Group 6 – AO:

The only way that these teams can even hope to make the playoffs is for a massive scandal that involves over half of the league to be revealed and the commissioner rushes to make a decision on the punishment and disqualifies all of the teams involved in the scandal from the playoffs. Even you’d still better have your fingers crossed.

11 Responses

  1. Love the post! Excellent and entertaining info…especially the CFH section..LOL. OK, its Sunday, any new posts on the who needs what and how?? Thx

    • Darron, thanks for the comment! I’m glad you liked the info… the formatting got a little screwy when I copied it over from a word document which is a bummer so it’s good to know the info is still appreciated… as for new info, I will be doing the same thing again this week after all the games have been played… If there is a specific team you’re wondering about though I can tell you what their situation looks like, otherwise it’s just easier to wait for all of the games to finish up.

  2. MIAMI! Yeh, kinda had an idea what the Fins needed goin into todays game, but with the loss (too close of a loss), any idea what their hopes are now?? Much Thanks again!!

    • Sure thing… for the Dolphins to make the playoffs… actually, now that I’m looking at this, in theory if you guys win your last two games AND the pats lose their last two games you will still win the division… that’s kind of a long shot… however there are (as you know) a TON of teams still in the hunt for a wild card spot. Miami has the tie-breaker over the Jets and the Jags. The tie-breaker between Miami and both the Texans and Steelers will be determined solely on if you guys beat them head-to-head in week 16 and 17 (respectively) but both the Titans and the Ravens already have the tie-breaker on you guys so you have to finish at least a half game ahead of them to beat them about of a wild card spot but with both the Jets and Jags you can finished tied with them and be the ones who make it in. Technically you don’t HAVE to win both of your next two games but realistically thinking you will need to. I hope that all made sense. Let me know if it doesn’t or if you have any other questions. Thanks again for the comments.

  3. […] 18, 2008 by colts18 …………………………………………………………… This information is out of date. Click here for the 2009 version. […]

  4. […] THIS INFO IS OUT OF DATE! CLICK HERE FOR THE 2009 VERSION! […]

  5. Sweet! OK, they’re not dead, next two games are key for general wins AND for beating other wild-card contenders in playoff hunt! Gotcha…well, we’ll be down at the Miami / Texans game next week! Glad to know there still in the running during the game…. Thanks again..good stuff!

    • Sure thing, man and I’ll let you know when I post this weeks updated version of things so you’ll have a better idea of what needs to happen for the Dolphins. Thanks again for the comments, we hope you’ll feel free to check out the rest of the site as well.

  6. […] Later this week I will be putting up a new mock draft and will be taking another look at the NFL playoff situation while Bryan will be putting up another one of his draft position posts, but tonight neither of us […]

  7. […] post will be similar to the posts I did last week. I will be laying out for each team what they need to do to make the playoffs, clinch their […]

  8. […] partially inspired by 18 to 88′s ‘Who to Root For‘ weekly post, but also because I always do this at about this time of year […]

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