• 2015 Playoff Picture after Week 15

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    Week 15 cleared up a lot. Most teams in the NFL have been knocked out of the playoff hunt. So, now, we'll switch to just looking at those who are in or who could get in realistically. That's just 14 teams out of the full 32.

    AFC:

    New England: The Patriots are currently the AFC 1 seed. Our win, and Denver's loss, ensured us of a first round bye. The Pats get homefield throughout the AFC playoffs with a win over the Jets, or a tie and a Cincy loss or tie.

    Cincinnati: The Bengals are currently the AFC 2 seed. They have locked in a playoff spot, but they have not yet secured the AFC North. With a win or tie over Denver on Monday night, the Bengals win the North and lock in a first round bye. They also win the North if they lose and the Steelers lose or tie, but in that case they do not ensure a first round bye.

    Denver: The Broncos are currently the AFC 3 seed. Denver has more options this weekend than the Pats or Bengals. They win the AFC West with a win over Cincy and a KC loss or tie; or with a tie with the Bengals and a KC loss.

    The Broncos lock in a playoff spot with a win over the Bengals and a loss or tie by either the Steelers or Jets; or a tie with the Bengals and a loss by the Steelers or Jets.

    So, basically, to make sure they get in, the Broncos are rooting for the Pats on Sunday.

    Houston: The Texans are currently the AFC 4 seed. They basically have to win the AFC South to make the playoffs. How do they do this? There are three ways but one is super complex, so we'll focus on the two easier ones. Those easier ways are for Houston to win and Indy to lose or tie; or for Houston to tie and Indy to lose.

    Kansas City The Chiefs are currently the AFC 5 seed. While they can still win the AFC West, they cannot do that this week. They can get a playoff spot however. If they win and the Jets or Steelers lose, KC is in.

    Pittsburgh: The Steelers played great against Denver. They put themselves as the 6 seed currently. If they win, and the Jets lose, the Steelers are in the playoffs.

    New York: The Jets are in 7th place and need a lot of help. They have to win Sunday to have a chance. if they lose to the Pats, they are done, and there is a good chance the AFC playoff teams are set, with only seeding to play with. If they win, they stay alive, and will need to win and get help in Week 17.

    Indianapolis: The Colts have to win the AFC South to have a chance. They need to win out and hope the Texans lose both games they have left.


    NFC:

    Carolina: The Panthers are currently the NFC 1 seed. They have a first round bye. With a Panthers win or Cardinals loss, they have homefield for the NFC playoffs.

    Arizona: The Cardinals are currently the NFC 2 seed. They lock in the 2 seed with a win. If they win and the Panthers lose, there is a chance that Arizona could still get the 1 seed.

    Green Bay: The Packers are currently the NFC 3 seed. They win the NFC North and lock down the 3 seed with a win and a Viking loss or tie or a tie and a Viking loss.

    Washington: Washington is the NFC 4 seed. Washington wins the NFC East with a win on Sunday or a tie and a Giants loss.

    Seattle: The two time defending NFC champions have locked up a playoff spot. They are currently the 5 seed and all that remains for them is to see what seed they end up. It's unlikely they drop to the 6 seed, but it could happen.

    Minnesota: The Vikings are currently the NFC 6 seed. They get into the playoffs with a win or tie; or an Atlanta loss or tie; or a Seattle win or tie.

    Or, to make it easier if any one of the Vikings, Panthers, or Seahawks win on Sunday, the Vikings make the playoffs.

    If they win out and the Packers lose out, the Vikings take the NFC North.

    Comments 10 Comments
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Seems like their is a good chance week 17 has most of the spots locked up. What is the likeliest SNF game of week 17? Is it going to be a NFC East showdown? Or a Packers-Vikings play for the higher seed?
    1. Amy's Avatar
      I'd say it is very likely that week 17 is a meaningless week for most teams. Pretty much all the playoff teams have decent matchups.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      Seems like their is a good chance week 17 has most of the spots locked up. What is the likeliest SNF game of week 17? Is it going to be a NFC East showdown? Or a Packers-Vikings play for the higher seed?
      Green Bay vs Minnesota probably won't have much riding on it, since both teams would be playing wild card weekend anyway and its more about playoff seeding and home field. In fact, its quite possible that the game will be played in the Wild Card round, which means you really won't see much.

      Right now, I think it might be Philadelphia-NY Giants. I don't have much confidence in Washington winning in Philly next week. That would put Wash and Philly at 7-8. The Giants would either be 6-9 or 7-8. Philly would have the tiebreaker over Washington because of divisional record. So even if Washington beats Dallas, it doesn't decide the division.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Some things to consider, re: next week's Sunday night matchup:

      --If the Broncos lose and the Chiefs win, Kansas City and Denver will be tied for first place in the AFC West. Due to division record--the Broncos are currently 3-2 against the AFCW, while the Chiefs are 4-1--KC has the inside track for the division and it sets up that a Chiefs--Raiders game will decide whether Kansas City wins the division (provided Denver beats San Diego earlier in the day). If the Redskins wrap up the division on Saturday, this is a real option for the NFL, as I'm sure they'd love to promote an old rivalry with an up-and-coming team like Oakland.

      --That Green Bay--Minnesota game will probably be for the division title, since I kind of don't see the Packers walking into Arizona and winning this weekend. The Packers are an extraordinarily popular team, and that's something that can't be forgotten in the calculus of all of this.

      --On the other hand, if Arizona loses and doesn't wrap up the #2 seed, is there a chance they'll put Seahawks--Cardinals on in that window?

      --If there aren't any surefire win-and-you're-in games and Carolina takes care of business this week against Atlanta, it's entirely possible the SNF will choose a 15-0 team trying to complete a perfect regular season.

      --There are also ways we could get Texans--Jaguars, which would be a pretty great way to close out this NFL regular season, honestly.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post

      --There are also ways we could get Texans--Jaguars, which would be a pretty great way to close out this NFL regular season, honestly.
      The NFL should figure out a way of putting that game on ESPN
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      Green Bay vs Minnesota probably won't have much riding on it, since both teams would be playing wild card weekend anyway and its more about playoff seeding and home field. In fact, its quite possible that the game will be played in the Wild Card round, which means you really won't see much.

      Right now, I think it might be Philadelphia-NY Giants. I don't have much confidence in Washington winning in Philly next week. That would put Wash and Philly at 7-8. The Giants would either be 6-9 or 7-8. Philly would have the tiebreaker over Washington because of divisional record. So even if Washington beats Dallas, it doesn't decide the division.


      Green Bay and Minnesota could have a lot riding on it!

      If Seattle wins this week, they lock down the 5 seed. So, let's assume they do. If they do, this gives us two scenarios:

      1. The Packers beat Arizona and the Vikings lose to the Giants. In this case, the Packers take the NFC North, and they play the Vikings, in Lambeau on back to back weekends. In this case, yes, the week 17 game has no bearing and both teams would be wise to consider it a preseason game and rest all key players as well as play very vanilla schemes to keep things hidden for the wildcard game.

      2. Any of the following happen:

      a. Packers Loss and Vikings win;
      b. Both win;
      c. Both lose.

      In all three of these cases, the NFC North is decided next weekend in Green Bay! In b or c, the Vikings are back 1, but a win gives them the division. In a, they will be tied and winner takes all.

      Why this matters is simple - where the wildcard game will be played! The winner of the NFC North will host that rematch game. It's also important to note that the loser of the game, in any of case 2, would be the 6 seed. They'd have to play 3 road games, while the 3 seed would host in the WC round, and (although unlikely!), could host the NFC Championship game.

      (That would require Seattle to beat the NFC East champ in round 1 (very easy to see happening), then Carolina in round 2 (not impossible))

      So, yes, week 17 will likely matter a lot to the Packers and Vikings.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      I think the best case scenarios for the featured game are KC-Oakland or Houston-Jacksonville, since both would feature a team fighting for the division against a team that's looked at as the future of the division. Either game would be a fun and different way to end the season. The NFC East matchup has become the cop out, and a Green Bay-Minnesota game would be similar to last year's Bengals-Steelers finish in that both teams would (likely) already be in. Not a terrible option, but I want something new.

      But if Carolina wins on Sunday, maybe NBC will just immediately lock that game in. No other game would, or should, have that much intrigue. Divisions are won every year, but the opportunity for a perfect season doesn't come around all that often. It's why they should have maybe gone after Carolina-Atlanta this week instead of Minnesota-New York.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      Green Bay and Minnesota could have a lot riding on it!

      If Seattle wins this week, they lock down the 5 seed. So, let's assume they do. If they do, this gives us two scenarios:

      1. The Packers beat Arizona and the Vikings lose to the Giants. In this case, the Packers take the NFC North, and they play the Vikings, in Lambeau on back to back weekends. In this case, yes, the week 17 game has no bearing and both teams would be wise to consider it a preseason game and rest all key players as well as play very vanilla schemes to keep things hidden for the wildcard game.

      2. Any of the following happen:

      a. Packers Loss and Vikings win;
      b. Both win;
      c. Both lose.

      In all three of these cases, the NFC North is decided next weekend in Green Bay! In b or c, the Vikings are back 1, but a win gives them the division. In a, they will be tied and winner takes all.

      Why this matters is simple - where the wildcard game will be played! The winner of the NFC North will host that rematch game. It's also important to note that the loser of the game, in any of case 2, would be the 6 seed. They'd have to play 3 road games, while the 3 seed would host in the WC round, and (although unlikely!), could host the NFC Championship game.

      (That would require Seattle to beat the NFC East champ in round 1 (very easy to see happening), then Carolina in round 2 (not impossible))

      So, yes, week 17 will likely matter a lot to the Packers and Vikings.
      If Green Bay beats Arizona this week, there might be a little bit more riding on the game because Green Bay could be in position for the #2 seed and thus get a bye. That is worth a lot more to the players and coaches than whether or not there is home field advantage for wild card weekend.

      Yes, you want wild card weekend in your stadium. But its much more important to be prepared for the playoffs and wild card weekend. A lot of coaches would rather have the mini bye in week 17 than home field. And certainly in the case of Green Bay-Minnesota, where it could be a rematch the following week, you won't see much in terms of schemes.

      We've seen wild card teams make it to the superbowl. Green Bay's superbowl run was at the #6 seed. So they know its not the end all if they end up at #6.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      If Green Bay beats Arizona this week, there might be a little bit more riding on the game because Green Bay could be in position for the #2 seed and thus get a bye. That is worth a lot more to the players and coaches than whether or not there is home field advantage for wild card weekend.

      Yes, you want wild card weekend in your stadium. But its much more important to be prepared for the playoffs and wild card weekend. A lot of coaches would rather have the mini bye in week 17 than home field. And certainly in the case of Green Bay-Minnesota, where it could be a rematch the following week, you won't see much in terms of schemes.

      We've seen wild card teams make it to the superbowl. Green Bay's superbowl run was at the #6 seed. So they know its not the end all if they end up at #6.
      The division championship is valuable not just for Wild Card weekend. While the Packers would have to go on the road to face the #2 (presumably Arizona) in the divisional round, the #3 puts them in a position to host the NFC Championship if, say, Seattle goes on a deep run as the #5 seed. I do not think this is insignificant. Seattle defeating whoever wins the NFC East seems likely and win at Carolina would be difficult but is certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

      I just can't imagine, even if the game is a rematch, Green Bay being okay with guaranteeing themselves three road games in the postseason when at least one and possibly two is on the table. Considering that there are fifteen games' worth of film on Green Bay available already and they're a divisional opponent, I similarly can't imagine there's any real advantage in not showing enough to win the game and earn a home game against a Minnesota team that hasn't won a game at Lambeau--other than that time Brett Favre played quarterback for them--since 2005.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Getting a playoff game at home versus on the road is huge. My money is on GB-Minesota