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

This post will be similar to all of the other posts I have done on this very topic. The only difference for this one is that I will have four categories (AI, COD, HAC, AO) instead of six. But I will still 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 seedings would look like this:

1. Indianapolis Colts+

2. San Diego Chargers+

3. New England Patriots

4. Cincinnati Bengals

5. Denver Broncos*

6. New York Jets

*Amazingly this is a rare time when one of the teams that would currently be in the playoffs don’t actually control their own destiny. Denver does not control their own destiny.

+Indicates a seeding that is locked in and will not change no matter what happens this week.

In the NFC the seedings would look like this:

1. New Orleans Saints+

2. Philadelphia Eagles

3. Minnesota Vikings

4. Arizona Cardinals

5. Green Bay Packers

6. Dallas Cowboys

+Indicates a seeding that is locked in and will not change no matter what happens this week.

However, two of the 12 teams that 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 for 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 the four categories I mentioned above (AI, COD, HAC, 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.
  • San Diego Chargers – Already locked up the #2 seed in the AFC.
  • New England Patriots – Already locked up the AFC East.
  • Cincinnati Bengals – Already locked up the AFC North.
  • New Orleans Saints – Already locked up the first overall seed in the NFC.
  • Minnesota Vikings – Already locked up the NFC North.
  • Philadelphia Eagles – Already locked up a playoff spot.
  • Arizona Cardinals – Already locked up the NFC West.
  • Green Bay Packers – Already locked up a playoff spot.
  • Dallas Cowboys – Already locked up a playoff spot.

2. Teams that control their own destiny (COD) – If they win their last game of the season (this week’s game) they will make the playoffs:

  • New York Jets
  • Baltimore Ravens.

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:

  • Denver Broncos
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Miami Dolphins

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

  • Tennessee Titans, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and Kansas City Chiefs.

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 – already done

San Diego Chargers:

  • 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 – Impossible

Philadelphia Eagles:

  • To make the playoffs – already done
  • To clinch the division –
  • Win their week 17 game against the Cowboys.
    • To get a first-round bye –
  • Win their week 17 game against the Cowboys.
    • To get the #1 seed in NFC – Impossible

    New England Patriots:

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

    (NB: If the Patriots and Bengals end up with the same record, the tie-breaker will come down to strength of victory, which I think the Pats have the advantage in. If that is the case then they will clinch the #3 seed in the AFC with a win or if the Bengals lose or if they both tie.)

    Minnesota Vikings:

    • To make the playoffs – already done
    • To clinch the division –already done
    • To get a first-round bye –
  • Win and the Eagles lose or tie.
  • Get a tie and the Eagles lose.
    • To get the #1 seed in NFC – Impossible

    Cincinnati Bengals:

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

    (NB: As I mentioned above, I think that the Pats will have the tie-breaker in the event of a tie with the two teams’ records. This means that for the Bengals to get the #3 seed in the AFC they will have to win and have the Patriots lose or tie. The Bengals could also get a tie and the Patriots lose.)

    Arizona Cardinals:

    • To make the playoffs – already done
    • To clinch the division –already done
    • To get a first-round bye –
  • Win and the Eagles lose and the Vikings lose.
    • To get the #1 seed in NFC – Impossible

    Green Bay Packers:

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

    Dallas Cowboys:

    • To make the playoffs – already done
    • To clinch the division –
  • Win their week 17 game against the Eagles.
    • To get a first-round bye –
  • Win and the Cardinals lose and the Vikings lose.
    • To get the #1 seed in NFC – Impossible

    (NB: For groups 2 and 3 I will only be saying how they will make the playoffs because it is impossible for any of them to win their division, get a first-round bye or get the first overall seed.)

    Group 2 – COD:

    New York Jets:

    1. Win their week 17 game against the Bengals.

    2. Lose their week 17 game and have the Ravens lose, the Steelers lose, the Broncos lose, the Texans lose, the Dolphins lose or tie, the Jaguars lose or tie and then it would come down to a three-way tie between the Ravens, Broncos and Jets and at that point it’s not entirely clear how the tie-breaker works. I know what the tie-breakers are, but when it’s three or more teams I don’t know if they are used to eliminate teams until they get down to two and then those two teams are in or if they go until one team wins one of the tie-breakers over the other two and then those two go back to the regular two-team tie-breakers. Unfortunately that does indeed determine if the Jets would still be able to make the playoffs in this situation.

    Baltimore Ravens:

    1. Win their week 17 game against the Raiders.

    2. If the Ravens lose then the same problem from above with the Jets is again a problem in this situation.

    Group 3 – SHC:

    Denver Broncos:

    1. Win their week 17 game against the Chiefs and two of these four teams lose: the Jets, Ravens, Steelers or Texans and one of the teams that loses has to be the Jets or Ravens.

    2. If the Broncos lose then the same problem from above with the Ravens and Jets is again a problem in this situation.

    Pittsburgh Steelers:

    1. Win their week 17 game against the Dolphins and one of the following combination of other teams losing must happen:

    1. Texans and Jets lose.
    2. Texans and Ravens lose.
    3. Jets, Ravens and Broncos lose.

    Houston Texans:

    1. Win their week 17 game against the Patriots and one of the following combination of other teams losing must happen:

    1. Jets and Broncos lose.
    2. Jets and Ravens lose.
    3. Broncos and Ravens lose.

    Jacksonville Jaguars:

    1. Win their week 17 game against the Browns and one of the following combination of other teams losing must happen:

    1. Steelers, Broncos, Texans and Jets all lose.
    2. Steelers, Ravens, Broncos and Jets all lose.
    3. Steelers, Texans, Jets and Ravens all lose.
    4. Jets, Ravens, Texans and Broncos all lose.
    5. Ravens, Broncos, Steelers and Texans all lose.

    Miami Dolphins:

    1. Win their week 17 game against the Steelers and the Jets, Texans, and Ravens all lose and the Jaguars lose or tie.

    Group 4 – 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 then, you’d still better have your fingers crossed.

    2 Responses

    1. […] THIS POST IS OUT OF DATE! CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED VERSION! […]

    2. […] 18, 2008 by colts18 …………………………………………………………… This information is out of date. Click here for the 2009 version. […]

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