With Week 16 games completed, here is the playoff picture…
New England won the division, and has a 79% chance at the 1st seed, 21% chance at the 2nd seed, though the Patriots have a tough game next week and often don’t perform well in week 17.
Miami has clinched a wild card, with a 10% chance at the 5th seed and a 90% chance at the 6th seed.
Pittsburgh won the division and has clinched the 3rd seed.
Houston won the division and has clinched the fourth seed.
Oakland clinched a playoff spot. The Raiders have a 21% chance at the 1st seed and a 48% chance at the 2nd seed, adding up to a 69% chance of winning the division. They have a 31% chance at the 5th seed. Oakland holds the tie-breaker over New England. But Kansas City holds the tie-breaker over the Raiders.
Kansas City clinched a playoff spot. The Chiefs have a 31% chance at the 2nd seed. They have a 59% chance at the 5th seed and a 10% chance at the 6th seed.
Dallas won the division and holds the 1st seed.
The New York Giants have clinched a wild card spot and hold the 5th seed.
Washington has a 53% chance at the 6th seed. Since the Redskins are at home and the Giants have nothing to play for next week, that 53% chance is likely far too low. However, shenanigans are a potential problem for the Redskins.
Detroit has a 57% chance of winning the division (3% 2nd seed, 19% 3rd seed, 35% 4th seed), and a 20% chance at the 6th seed, adding up to a 77% chance of reaching the playoffs. The division winner will be the winner of next week’s game against Green Bay. A Washington loss clinches a playoff berth as does any win or tie.
Green Bay has a 43% chance of winning the division (10% 3rd seed, 33% 4th seed) and a 27% chance at the 6th seed, adding up to a 70% chance of reaching the playoffs. If Washington loses or ties next week and the Packers and Lions tie, the Packers win the division and the Lions are a wild card. However, if Washington wins next week and the Packers and Lions do not tie, the loser of the game misses the playoffs. Hence potential shenanigans. Just make it look good, guys, or your friendly commissioner may deflate your playoff hopes anyway. There will be a lot of extra attention given this game, as it has been broken out to the late time slot.
What about the tie-breakers between Tampa Bay and a 9-7 North team, with Washington losing next week? Detroit holds that tie-breaker based on common games, and Green Bay and Tampa Bay come down to strength of victory. The best Tampa Bay can do is tie Green Bay on strength of victory, which would require Chicago beating Minnesota and San Francisco beating Seattle. If that happens, strength of schedule breaks the tie. And, again, Green Bay has an edge there – under these conditions insurmountable. However, if Washington ties the New York Giants and Green Bay loses, this creates a three-way tie for the final wild-card slot, which will come down to strength-of-victory most likely, and in this case, there’s a tiny window for Tampa Bay to hold a percentage-points advantage. The odds of this happening are somewhere around 1 in 100,000 – maybe lower. At first, I did not see this case, but a reader pointed it out. Front Office Football does get this correct in that it recognizes 8-7-2 and 9-7 are considered identical records. But the playoff simulator won’t always see this sort of thing. Detroit, if it loses and Washington ties, takes the wild-card – either in a three-way tie with Tampa Bay or alone with Washington. Washington holds the tie-breaker over Green Bay.
Atlanta has clinched the division and has an 81% chance at the 2nd seed, a 10% chance at the 3rd seed and a 9% chance at the 4th seed. With a win next week, the Falcons gain that bye. Atlanta holds the tie-breaker over Green Bay, but Detroit holds the tie-breaker over Atlanta.
Seattle has clinched the division and has a 16% chance at the 2nd seed, a 61% chance at the 3rd seed and a 23% chance at the 4th seed. In case you’re wondering about Seattle at 9-5-2 against other division winners at 10-6, the North teams hold tie-breakers over the Seahawks and the Seahawks hold the tie-breaker over Atlanta.
6. Miami (10-6) at 3. Pittsburgh (11-5)
5. Kansas City (12-4) at 4. Houston (9-7)
1. New England (14-2), 2. Oakland (13-3)
6. Washington (9-6-1) at 3. Seattle (10-5-1)
5. New York Giants (10-6) at 4. Detroit (10-6)
1. Dallas (14-2), 2. Atlanta (11-5)
Cleveland is 1-14, and clinches the #1 pick with a loss. With a win and a San Francisco loss, the 49ers hold the #1 pick and Cleveland picks 2nd. The 49ers won’t pick lower than #2. Chicago holds the edge over Jacksonville for #3/4. Los Angeles holds the edge over the Jets for #5/6. The Rams would hold an edge at 4-12 over Chicago and Jacksonville, so they could go as high as #3. Jacksonville could drop to #6 with a win, though it’s close at 4-12 with the Jets. If Chicago wins and the Jets lose, they would be very close fighting over the #5/6 (or #4/5 if the Rams win). San Diego picks #7 with a loss.