This Week’s Playoff Scenarios
There are still more than four billion playoff scenarios with just two weeks left in the season, so it is impossible to list every scenario left. However, for most teams still in the race, their paths are for the most part clear.
New England has clinched the division title and a bye to the Divisional Round. The Patriots would clinch home field advantage and the top seed by winning out (vs. NYJ, @Mia) or by winning one game while Oakland loses one game or if Oakland loses both games.
Miami clinches a wildcard berth by winning one of its remaining two games (@Buf, vs. NE). The Dolphins cannot make the playoffs at 9-7.
Buffalo’s slight chance of earning the #6 seed require the Bills to win twice (vs. Mia, @NYJ), a lot of other things to occur. The computer lists Buffalo with about a 3% chance of making the playoffs. Here is one scenario that works.
This Week: Jacksonville must beat Tennessee, Oakland must beat Indianapolis, Cincinnati must beat Houston, and Pittsburgh must beat Baltimore
Next Week: Cincinnati must beat Baltimore, New England must beat Miami, and Oakland must beat Denver
Pittsburgh wins the division if they beat Baltimore this week at Heinz Field. They can still win the division if they lose to Baltimore this week, and then Baltimore loses at Cincinnati while the Steelers defeat Cleveland in the final week. The Steelers have numerous opportunities of earning a wildcard if they lose this week and win next week to finish 10-6 and very limited opportunities of earning a wildcard if they lose both remaining games.
Baltimore can win the division title by winning out or by beating Pittsburgh this week and then both the Steelers and Ravens lose their season finales. The Ravens have limited possibilities of earning a wildcard if they lose to Pittsburgh and beat Cincinnati to finish 9-7.
This is an interesting scenario. As far as the division title goes, it does not matter what Houston does this week against Cincinnati. In theory, they could rest their starters and lose to the Bengals and then would become division champs if they beat Tennessee in Week 17. The Texans still have a very slim (less than 1 in 300 chance) of earning a wildcard if they win this week and lose next week, but it is so infinitesimally small, that Houston would be best served by concentrating all their efforts on the Titans. Then, there is the opportunity to clinch the division this week should Jacksonville upset Tennessee. The Texans will know the outcome of the Titans’ game before they play Cincinnati.
Tennessee must win out to win the division, or they must beat Houston next week if the Texans and Titans both lose this week. However, under this scenario, the Titans can only win the division at 9-7 if Indianapolis loses one of its final two games. The Titans have a slim wildcard chance, but it is a little better than the Texans’ wildcard chance.
Indianapolis can still win the division by winning out with Houston losing both of its final two games and Tennessee losing to Jacksonville. The Colts still have a tiny wildcard shot if they win out. That chance is smaller than Buffalo’s.
Oakland must finish a game ahead of Kansas City to win the division. Two Raider wins, and one Patriot loss would give the Raiders home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. One Oakland win guarantees a first round bye, but the Raiders can still clinch a bye with two losses if Pittsburgh loses a game.
Kansas City wins the division in any tie with Oakland. The Chiefs would receive a first round bye if they finish with two wins, and Pittsburgh loses one game. KC wins the wildcard unless they lose their final two games (vs. Den, @SD) and Baltimore wins out, while Pittsburgh and Miami both finish 10-6.
Denver has numerous possibilities in their route to the #6 seed. The Broncos must win out (@KC, vs. Oak), and then need help from losses by Miami and Baltimore, or a monumental Cleveland upset of Pittsburgh.
Dallas needs one win or one New York Giant loss to clinch the top seed and earn home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. If the Cowboys lose twice (@Phi, @Was), and Dallas loses twice (vs. Det, @Phi), and the Giants win twice, the Giants earn home field advantage and the top seed.
New York can still be eliminated with two losses and multiple other scenarios including Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Atlanta, and Detroit finishing 10-6.
Washington is still alive and has a very good shot at a wildcard if they win out (@Chi, vs. NYG), and a very slim chance if they lose one of their last two.
If Detroit beats Green Bay next week, the Lions win the division regardless of what happens in this weeks game at Dallas. If Green Bay beats Detroit, then the Packers win the division if the two teams finished tied. Both teams hold limited wildcard possibilities, with the Lions’ chances more than twice as strong.
Minnesota holds very slim wildcard hopes. The Vikings must beat Green Bay and Chicago and then hope Tampa Bay loses out, Washington loses at least once, and Detroit beats Green Bay.
Atlanta and Tampa Bay are both looking good with the majority of scenarios placing both teams in the playoffs. If Atlanta wins just one of its final two games, there are very few scenarios where the Falcons would be eliminated, and if Tampa Bay wins out, there are even fewer scenarios where they would be eliminated. The Falcons can earn a bye by winning out to finish 11-5, if Seattle loses one of its final two games.
Seattle has clinched the division and can clinch a first round bye if they win out. They cannot clinch the number one seed, as only Dallas and the Giants are alive for the top spot.
If The Playoffs Began Today
PiRate Playoff Projections
PiRate Playoff Projections Played Out
|Pittsburgh over Miami|
|Kansas City over Tennessee|
|Tampa Bay over Atlanta|
|N.Y. Giants over Detroit|
|Oakland over Kansas City|
|New England over Pittsburgh|
|Dallas over Tampa Bay|
|N. Y. Giants over Seattle|
|Oakland over New England|
|N. Y. Giants over Dallas|
|Super Bowl 51|
|N. Y. Giants over Oakland|
This Week’s PiRate Ratings
|Current NFL PiRate Ratings|
|A F C|
|N. Y. Jets||93.9||93.2||94.1||93.7||57||37|
|N F C|
This Week’s PiRate Spreads
|Philadelphia||New York Giants||1.5||1.1||0.6||47|
|New England||New York Jets||18.8||18.2||19.5||45|
|New Orleans||Tampa Bay||2.4||2.8||2.7||60|
|Los Angeles||San Francisco||7.9||7.6||8.0||33|