Playoff Race

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
By Joe Ferreira staff writer

Joe Ferreira will offer his analysis and notes on the 2005 NFL playoff race. Note: Strength of Victory (SOV) -- Is the winning percentage of opposing teams that a selected team has defeated. Strength of Schedule (SOS) -- Is the winning percentage of opposing teams that selected team played.

Week 16


Four teams have secured playoff berths and four more are looking to fill the final two spots in the AFC. Here's an Insider look at how the tiebreakers shake out heading into the final two weeks of the 2005 season.


AFC East
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
NE 9-5-0 4-0-0 6-4-0 .405 .520
MIA 7-7-0 2-3-0 5-5-0 .449 .459
BUF 4-10-0 2-3-0 4-6-0 .357 .505
NYJ 3-11-0 1-3-0 2-8-0 .476 .531
New England has won the division and the other three teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. The only unanswered questions are which seed will New England be and who will be the Patriots' likely first playoff opponent.

# New England CAN'T be the No. 2 seed, and thus isn't eligible for a first-round bye.
# The only way the Patriots can be the No. 3 seed is by winning their final two games and having Cincinnati lose its final two.
# Assuming New England lands the No. 4 seed, the likely visitor to Gillette Stadium on wild-card weekend will be Jacksonville as the No. 5 seed. The Jaguars travel to Houston and host Tennessee during the final two weeks and have a full-game lead in the wild-card race over Pittsburgh (which the Jags beat) and San Diego.
# Jacksonville's only postseason visit to New England was during the Jags' second season in 1996 when these two teams met in the AFC Championship Game. New England won that game 20-6 and went on to lose to Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans.

AFC North
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
CIN 11-3-0 5-1-0 7-3-0 .390 .469
PIT 9-5-0 3-2-0 6-5-0 .452 .536
BAL 5-9-0 2-3-0 4-7-0 .314 .536
CLE 5-9-0 0-4-0 3-7-0 .400 .515
The Bengals have clinched their first division title since WKRP in Cincinnati still was on the air. OK, maybe not that far back -- but the division crown is Cincinnati's first since 1990. The only other AFC teams with such a division title drought are Cleveland (since 1989) and the expansion Houston Texans (no division titles).

# Cincinnati can garner either the Nos. 2, 3 or 4 seeds in this year's playoffs.
# The only way Cincinnati can be the No. 4 seed is to lose its final two games and have New England win its final two.
# If Cincinnati and Denver end up tied at 13-3 or 12-4, Denver will be the No. 2 seed and get a first-round bye based on conference record. The Bengals' only chance for a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye is to beat Denver on overall record.
# Bengals fans should be cheering for San Diego against Kansas City this week as a Chargers win would eliminate Kansas City from the playoffs and put San Diego in a position to gain a playoff spot in Week 17. That's important for Cincinnati as it travels to Kansas City in Week 17, while Denver goes to San Diego.
# Pittsburgh currently is the No. 6 seed in the playoff race due to a head-to-head win at San Diego.
# However, Pittsburgh does NOT control its own destiny. The Steelers would lose out in a three-team tie with Jacksonville and San Diego (or Denver) at 11-5 based on conference record. Pittsburgh also would lose out in a three-team tie at 10-6 with Jacksonville and San Diego (or Kansas City) based on conference record and a head-to-head loss against Jacksonville.
# Steelers fans should be cheering for Jacksonville to win out to avoid the above referenced three-way tie.
# If Pittsburgh finishes 11-5, they can garner the No. 5 seed and play at New England (most likely) if Jacksonville loses out (not likely).
# At 11-5, Pittsburgh can clinch a playoff spot with:

EITHER one San Diego loss or tie
OR two Jacksonville losses
OR Jacksonville wins two games and Denver wins or ties at least one game.

# If Pittsburgh ends up at 10-6 by losing to either Cleveland or Detroit, the Steelers need to:

EITHER have Jacksonville win at least one game and have San Diego and Kansas City both lose at least one game
OR have Jacksonville lose out and have San Diego lose to Kansas City this week and both San Diego and Kansas City lose in Week 17.

AFC South
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
IND 13-1-0 6-0-0 11-1-0 .429 .444
JAC 10-4-0 2-2-0 7-3-0 .407 .505
TEN 4-10-0 2-3-0 3-7-0 .196 .495
HOU 2-12-0 0-5-0 1-10-0 .321 .546
Despite Sunday's home loss to San Diego, the Colts have secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC and will host a game on Divisional Playoff weekend.

# As the No. 1 seed, Indy will host the lowest (worst) remaining seed after wild-card weekend.
# If the No. 3 seed wins, Indy will host the winner of the No. 4-No. 5 seed game. However, if the No. 3 seed loses on wild-card weekend, the Colts will host the No. 6 seed.

AFC West
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
DEN 11-3-0 3-1-0 8-2-0 .481 .505
SD 9-5-0 3-1-0 7-3-0 .500 .531
KC 8-6-0 3-2-0 7-3-0 .429 .490
OAK 4-10-0 0-5-0 2-9-0 .429 .505
The only AFC division title up for grabs probably will be decided this week.

# Denver, with a two-game lead over San Diego, needs

EITHER a win or tie at home against Oakland
# OR a San Diego loss or tie at Kansas City. San Diego's only hope for the division title is to win this weekend and have Denver lose against Oakland. If that happens, San Diego will host Denver on the final regular-season weekend in a game that will decide the division title. If San Diego were to win that game in that scenario, the Chargers would win the West based on division record (5-1 vs. 3-3).
# Denver can clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a win this week and a Cincinnati loss against Buffalo.
# Denver wins any tiebreaker with Cincinnati for the No. 2 seed based on conference record.
# San Diego is in an interesting situation with Pittsburgh for wild-card tiebreaker advantage. Pittsburgh beat San Diego 24-22 on that Week 5 Monday Night game in San Diego. However, San Diego can negate that by ending up in a three-way tie with Jacksonville and Pittsburgh at 11-5 or 10-6.
# If San Diego loses at Kansas City on Saturday, the Chargers would own the tiebreaker over the Chiefs if they both got to 10-6 based on common opponents (9-5 vs. KC's 8-6).
# If both San Diego and Kansas City end up at 9-7, the tiebreaker would shift to Kansas City based on conference record (8-4 vs. SD's 7-5), but it wouldn't matter at that point unless Pittsburgh loses its final two games. In that case, Kansas City would be the No. 6 seed and Pittsburgh and San Diego will be dusting off the golf clubs.


No. 1 seed -- Indianapolis (already determined)
No. 2 seed -- Denver
No. 3 seed -- Cincinnati
No. 4 seed -- New England
No. 5 seed -- Jacksonville
No. 6 seed -- San Diego

Remaining Schedules
Team Wk 16 Wk 17
1. Indianapolis @SEA ARI
2. Denver OAK @SD
3. Cincinnati BUF @KC
4. New England @NYJ MIA
5. Jacksonville @HOU TEN
6. Pittsburgh @CLE DET
7. San Diego @KC DEN
8. Kansas City SD CIN


Week 15 didn't do much to clear up the tiebreaker mess in the NFC. We still have eight teams fighting for the remaining five playoff spots (Seattle has secured one spot already), so three teams are going to have a not so jolly holiday. Below are some tiebreaker nuggets to chew on as you watch games this weekend.

NFC East
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
NYG 10-4-0 4-1-0 8-3-0 .436 .500
WAS 8-6-0 3-1-0 8-2-0 .491 .541
DAL 8-6-0 3-3-0 6-4-0 .438 .520
PHI 6-8-0 0-5-0 3-7-0 .369 .541
The N.Y. Giants are certainly in the best position in the division as they hold a two-game lead over both Washington and Dallas. However, all that could change this week if the Giants lose at Washington.

# A Giants win or tie this week will give them the division title and at least a No. 4 seed.
# If the Giants win out and finish 12-4, they can earn the No. 2 seed with one Chicago loss or tie AND one Carolina loss or tie. This is due to the Giants losing a tiebreaker to Chicago based on conference record and to Carolina based on common opponents record.
# If only ONE and not both Chicago and Carolina lose or tie a game in the above scenario, then the Giants will be the No. 3 seed and if neither team loses or ties a game, then the Giants will be the No. 4 seed at 12-4.
# If the Giants win this week at Washington, but lose week 17 at Oakland and finish 11-5, Big Blue will most likely receive a No. 4 seed unless they get some help from others.
# In this scenario, the Giants can still get a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye if Chicago loses out AND one Carolina loss (Giants would have a better conference record) AND one Tampa Bay loss or tie (Giants may not need this loss or tie if they beat Tampa on Strength of Victory).
# To gain a No. 3 seed in this scenario at 11-5, the Giants would need EITHER two Chicago losses OR one Carolina loss and one Tampa Bay loss or tie.
# If the Giants lose this week to Washington and beat Oakland Week 17, they will win the division, but will have an 8-4 conference record that will hurt them in tiebreakers for higher seeds.
# In this scenario, they still can gain a No. 2 seed and first-round bye with two Chicago losses AND one Tampa Bay loss or tie AND EITHER a Carolina loss to Dallas (Giants win tiebreaker on common opponents) or Carolina loses at Atlanta and Giants win Strength of Victory tiebreaker.
# For the No. 3 seed in this scenario, the Giants need EITHER the two Chicago losses OR one Tampa Bay loss or tie and either a Carolina loss to Dallas or Carolina loses at Atlanta and Giants win Strength of Victory tiebreaker.
# For Washington, the division title formula is pretty simple: Win out, which includes a win against the Giants this week, and have the Giants lose at Oakland Week 17 (Redskins win tiebreak on division record 5-1 vs. 4-2).
# If that occurs, Washington could still get a No. 2 seed and first-round bye, but need a lot of help and would most likely be the No. 4 seed and hosting a Wild Card game.
# Washington's playoff hopes are strengthened by their strong conference record (the Redskins lost all four games to the AFC West this year), but they do have a head-to-head loss to Tampa Bay (remember Mike Alstott and the Bucs going for two-points to win that one?).
# In fact, Washington can earn a playoff spot this week with a win against the Giants and losses by Dallas, Minnesota and Atlanta. Weirder things have happened.
# As for the limping Cowboys, they cannot win the division and really need to win out to have a realistic shot at the playoffs.
# At 10-6 and an 8-4 conference record, Dallas would gain a playoff spot with EITHER one Washington loss and a Chicago win or tie OR one Tampa Bay loss and Dallas beats Tampa Bay on Strength of Victory (its very close right now).

NFC North
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
CHI 10-4-0 4-0-0 9-1-0 .400 .454
MIN 8-6-0 4-1-0 7-4-0 .330 .480
DET 4-10-0 1-5-0 2-9-0 .304 .520
GB 3-11-0 1-4-0 3-7-0 .357 .510
Chicago is in a similar position to the Giants as they have a two-game lead in the division and have a game remaining against their primary chaser. In the Bears case, that's a week 17 game at Minnesota.

# Chicago can negate the importance of that game in the division race by winning at Green Bay this week OR having Minnesota slip up at Baltimore Christmas night.
# Chicago controls its own destiny for a first-round bye as they will be at least the No. 2 seed if they win out.
# If Chicago wins out and Seattle loses out, Chicago will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs based on conference record.
# Chicago also wins any tiebreaker at 11-5 with the Giants, Carolina and Tampa Bay based on conference record.
# In fact, Chicago can clinch a first-round bye this week with a win and losses by the Giants and Panthers.
# However, if Chicago loses this week at Green Bay and Minnesota wins at Baltimore, that sets up a game in Minnesota on Week 17 for the division championship.
# Minnesota can help themselves by winning out and getting to 10-6 and 8-4 in the conference, but will still be hampered by head-to-head losses to Tampa Bay and Carolina, and Washington having a better conference record if they end up at 10-6 as well.
# The Vikings especially need to win the Chicago game on week 17 as that is a conference game and can aid Minnesota in any tiebreakers.

NFC South
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
CAR 10-4-0 3-2-0 7-3-0 .393 .429
TB 9-5-0 3-1-0 7-3-0 .437 .454
ATL 8-6-0 2-2-0 5-5-0 .339 .464
NO 3-11-0 1-4-0 1-9-0 .405 .531
Carolina currently holds the overall record edge in this division but that can be overturned with one Panther loss and a Tampa Bay win.

# Carolina can win the division title this week with a win and a Tampa Bay loss or tie.
# If Carolina wins this week but doesn't clinch the division title, they will earn a playoff berth. Carolina can also get in the playoffs this week with a loss and other scenarios occurring (see Scenarios link above).
# Carolina can get the No. 2 seed in the NFC at 12-4, but would have to beat Chicago on overall record to get there (they have tiebreaker over Giants in that case on common opponents).
# Tampa Bay can still win the division as they have division record superiority to Carolina. If the Bucs win out, they only need one Carolina loss to win the division.
# Tampa Bay can clinch a playoff spot this weekend by winning against Atlanta and having two of the following teams lose or tie: Dallas, Washington and Minnesota.
# Atlanta is trailing Carolina for the division lead by two games, but they have both Tampa Bay (this week) and Carolina (Week 17) on their remaining schedule, so they control a big part of their destiny.
# If Atlanta wins out, they need a Carolina loss to Dallas this week and a Tampa Bay loss or tie against New Orleans to win the division.
# If Atlanta wins out and they don't win the division, they will need a lot of help to gain a playoff spot as the Falcons will have a 7-5 conference record. However, the Falcons did beat Minnesota head-to-head and that could come in handy.

NFC West
Team Record Div Conf SOV SOS
SEA 12-2-0 6-0-0 10-1-0 .357 .398
STL 5-9-0 1-4-0 2-8-0 .329 .500
ARI 4-10-0 3-3-0 3-8-0 .232 .480
SF 2-12-0 1-4-0 2-9-0 .500 .587
Seattle has already clinched the division title and a first-round bye.

# The Seahawks will gain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the No. 1 seed in the NFC with any win or tie over the next two weeks OR any Chicago loss or tie the rest of the way.


No. 1 seed - Seattle
No. 2 seed - N.Y. Giants
No. 3 seed - Carolina
No. 4 seed - Chicago
No. 5 seed - Tampa Bay
No. 6 seed - Minnesota

Remaining Schedules
Team Wk 16 Wk 17
1. Seattle IND @GB
2. Chicago @GB @MIN
3. N.Y. Giants @WAS @OAK
4. Carolina DAL @ATL
5. Tampa Bay ATL NO
6. Washington NYG @PHI
7. Minnesota @BAL CHI
8. Dallas @CAR STL
9. Atlanta @TB CAR

Teams in Super Bowl contention
Year With
3 weeks
to play With
2 weeks
to play With
1 week
to play
2005 18 17 ?
2004 27 26 17
2003 22 17 14
2002 21 21 19
2001 23 16 13
2000 19 17 16
1999 23 20 16
1998 22 19 14
1997 22 18 14
1996 23 21 13
1995 27 21 18
1994 25 22 15
1993 20 18 16
1992 20 16 14

Year With
3 weeks
to play With
2 weeks
to play With
1 week
to play
1991 20 18 13
1990 23 20 15
1989 21 18 17
1988 21 18 15
1987 19 19 15
1986 19 17 14
1985 21 18 13
1984 18 14 13
1983 24 19 15
1982 20 17 16
1981 21 20 16
1980 20 14 12
1979 19 15 13
1978 20 17 12