I was hoping this column would take on a different tone than the doom and gloom you're about to read. Had someone told me before the season that we would be fighting for a playoff spot I would've been ecstatic. Now that we're here, we have to remember what the expectations are. It's easy to get disgruntled or be let down by not making the playoffs (if that happens), but in the grand scheme of things, this has been a pretty successful season thus far. 7 wins through 12 games, an improved offense, a defense that doesn't always give up big plays, being competitive in most games. These are all things we missed last year and needed to see this year.
Of course, playing in an extra game in January would also be nice.
|Division||Team||Record||Week 14||Week 15||Week 16||Week 17|
|NFC East||Philadelphia Eagles||8-4||@ Dal||@ NYG||vs Min||vs Dal|
|NFC North||Chicago Bears||9-3||vs NO||@ Min||vs NYJ||@ GB|
|NFC South||Atlanta Falcons||10-2||@ Car||@ Sea||vs NO||vs Car|
|NFC West||St. Louis Rams||6-6||@ NO||vs KC||vs SF||@ Sea|
I'll focus mainly on our division, though if you want to comment on other divisions, have at it. The Bucs are all but eliminated from the division hunt. We're 3 games down to Atlanta who have the tiebreaker over us, meaning for us to win the division, we have to win out and Atlanta has to lose out. With Atlanta having Carolina twice, I think it's a safe bet that we're out of the division hunt. That means it's on to the Wild Card hunt
|Team||Record||Week 14||Week 15||Week 16||Week 17|
|Wild Card||New Orleans Saints||9-3||vs STL||@ Bal||@ Atl||vs TB|
|Wild Card||New York Giants||8-4||@ Min||vs Phi||@ GB||@ Was|
|In the hunt||Green Bay Packers||8-4||@ Det||@ NE||vs NYG||vs Chi|
|In the hunt||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7-5||@ Was||vs Det||vs Sea||@ NO|
|In the hunt||Seattle Seahawks||6-6||@ SF||vs Atl||@ TB||vs STL|
I left out the 5-7 teams but technically they are still alive.
So here we sit, a game behind the Giants and Packers and as of right now 2.5 games behind the Saints due to the tiebreaker they currently hold over us. We can of course negate the first tiebreaker (head to head) by beating the Saints in Week 17, which would take us to the next tiebreaker, Win/Loss percentage in the conference. However, if we are tied with three teams, it goes to best win/loss percentage between division, (assuming we are tied with Saints) and then the winner of that tiebreaker is compared to other non-division teams.
Bad news. Right now, our division record is 2-3 and New Orleans is 3-1. Best we can hope for is a push in this category with New Orleans and that's if we beat them. The next tie breaker is record in common games. This is where it gets messy. In common games (which is all but 4 games), the Saints are currently 6-3 with 3 games to go. (St Louis, Baltimore, Atlanta). We are 7-4 with one to go (Seattle, who New Orleans beat). We're staring 8-4 in the face which may be good enough to take them down assuming they lose to Baltimore and Atlanta.
If somehow we are still tied, it goes to conference percentage. More on this in a second. If we don't beat New Orleans or we don't end up tied with them, this is all moot.
Should it come down to 4th tiebreaker with New Orleans (possible) or a tie breaker with New York or Green Bay since we don't play them this year (Seattle tie breaker may matter if we end up tied with them. Whoever wins has head to head tie breaker), conference record (win percentage) will decide it. Here is where we all sit
|New Orleans Saints||7-2|
|New York Giants||6-2|
|Green Bay Packers||6-3|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||5-3|
A game behind the Giants and .5 games behind the Packers. The Giants and Packers play each other, so one of those teams will come back to us. It's up to us to win our conference games and get back in the mix. I won't even go past this, at least not until we get closer because it gets jumbled, but for those who want to know what's next, here it is. If we tie the Saints after the 4th tiebreaker of conference games, it goes to strength of victory, which means it takes the records of the teams we've beaten and compares it to the records of the team's New Orleans has beaten. Without us beating an over .500 team, I'm willing to bet that the Saints victories over Pittsburgh may be enough to carry them. If we tie with other teams, it goes to common games (New York is 4-0 with Was left and GB is 2-2 with Det left, while we are 2-2 with Was and Det left). Strength of Schedule is next, which we lose.
Confused? Well, let's say this. To have a chance we have to finish 3-1 and hope that everyone else is 2-2 or worse. Going 2-2 over the final 4 probably isn't enough to get it done as that will cause us to either not be tied with any teams or lose tie breakers. Still plenty of time, but with only 2 spots open to us and one of them being almost shut due to an earlier loss, it's time to become fans of anyone playing the Giants, Packers, Saints and Seahawks and hope we handle our business.