Blog Entry

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

Posted on: December 29, 2010 12:30 pm

Well, we made it through another tiebreaker season.  Thanks to all for your participation, well-thought out comments and feedback.   Atlanta losing on Monday night certainly made for an interesting group of scenarios for the #1 seed in the NFC, but Philadelphia laying an egg on Tuesday night simplified many things in the NFC.   Full scenarios are listed below.

- ATL will be #1 seed UNLESS they lose and either NO or CHI wins
- ATL will be #2 seed if they lose and NO loses and CHI wins
- ATL will be #5 seed if they lose and both NO and CHI win
- NO can only be a #1 or #5 seed and will be #1 if they win and ATL loses
- If NO not #1 seed, they will be #5 and play AT NFC West winner (STL or SEA) Wild Card weekend (Saints beat both teams this year at home)
- CHI is the #2 seed unless ATL and NO both lose and CHI wins...then CHI would be #1 seed
- PHI is the #3 seed and will host the #6 seed (either GB, NYG or TB) on Wild Card weekend
- The STL-SEA winner (or STL in case of a tie) will host ATL or NO (whichever doesn't win the South) on Wild Card weekend
- GB will know by game time if their opponent (CHI) is locked into #2 seed (CHI would need ATL and NO losses in 1pm ET games to have chance at #1 seed).
- If GB wins, they will play at PHI on Wild Card weekend as the #6 seed.
- If TB wins early, GB knows they will need to win to get into playoffs and TB will root for GB and NYG losses to get a trip to PHI.
- TB game only matters to NYG if the Giants tie WAS.
- NYG can only get in as #6 seed and would play at PHI for a third game this season against the Eagles with a WIN and GB loss
- If TB, GB and NYG all win or all lose, GB will play at PHI on Wild Card weekend based on GB winning strength of victory tiebreaker among the three teams at 10-6 or 9-7.   At 10-6, GB would have a minimum wins by defeated opponents of 74 while NYG and TB would have maximums of 65 and 59 wins respectively.  At 9-7, GB would have a minimum wins by defeated opponents of 63 while NYG and TB would have maximum of 61 and 49 wins respectively. 


  CLINCHED:    Atlanta - playoff spot.
               Chicago - NFC North division and a first-round bye.
               Philadelphia - NFC East division.
               New Orleans - playoff spot.
  ELIMINATED:  Carolina, Detroit, Washington, Dallas, Minnesota, Arizona,
               San Francisco.

 ATLANTA Falcons
  Atlanta clinches NFC South division and a first-round bye:
   1) ATL win or tie
   2) NO loss or tie
  Atlanta clinches homefield advantage:
   1) ATL win or tie
   2) NO loss or tie + CHI loss or tie

  Chicago clinches homefield advantage:
   1) CHI win + ATL loss + NO loss or tie

  New Orleans clinches NFC South and homefield advantage:
   1) NO win + ATL loss

 GREEN BAY Packers
  Green Bay clinches a playoff spot:
   1) GB win
   2) GB tie + NYG loss or tie + TB loss or tie
   3) NYG loss + TB loss

  NY Giants clinch a playoff spot:
   1) NYG win + GB loss or tie
   2) NYG tie + GB loss + TB loss or tie

 TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
  Tampa Bay clinches a playoff spot:
   1) TB win + NYG loss or tie + GB loss or tie
   2) TB tie + NYG loss + GB loss

  St. Louis clinches NFC West division:
   1) STL win or tie

 SEATTLE Seahawks
  Seattle clinches NFC West division:
   1) SEA win


Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:40 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

All right, if anyone is still here, let's try a new topic. If a current team were to move to Los Angeles in the next few years, would the league feel that re-alignment is necessary? I suppose they would at least consider it in the case of a team moving to LA, although I don't believe the NFL has re-aligned because of any  franchise moves since at least 1970. This covers the moves of BAL to IND, STL to AZ, LA Rams to STL, CLE to BAL, HOU to TEN, OAK to LA and LA back to OAK. I have heard four potential candidates over the last few years for a possible move to LA, those being San Diego, St. Louis, Minnesota, and Jacksonville. Obviously if SD or STL were to move to LA, no re-alignment would be necessary since those teams are both already in the West. But if MIN or JAC were to move, I suppose the league might consider re-alignment. If the Vikings moved, I could see them being swapped with the Rams, making the NFC West SF, SEA, AZ, and the new LA Vikings, while the Rams would join CHI, GB, and DET in the NFC North. Likewise, if the Jaguars were to move to LA, they could be swapped with Kansas City, leaving the AFC West as OAK, SD, DEN, and LA, while the Chiefs would join IND, TEN, and HOU in the AFC South.

I would wonder if the Rams or Chiefs would be opposed to these moves, or if they would appreciate not having to make multiple west coast trips every single year. The Rams I feel would not be opposed to it, since the 49ers are the only NFC West team they have any real history with, but the Chiefs have been division-mates with DEN, OAK, and SD since 1960, so it is possible they would be vehemently opposed to such a move. It would be a potentially interesting debate if either move were to occur, given the current situation where both the AFC West and NFC West are arguably the weakest divisions in their conferences. Certainly KC or STL might wish to remain in the West if it would increase their chances of making the playoffs every year, but would the NFL feel it necessary to make a move so that CHI, GB, DET or IND, TEN, HOU would not have to make a west coast trip for a divisional game every year?

What does anyone else think about the scenarios I've proposed, and do you have any others that I haven't mentioned, such as another potential candidate to move to LA, or some other potential franchise move that is possible in the somewhat near future?

Since: Dec 28, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:30 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios


I just took a look at some old divisions, which the NFL used to call "Conferences."

Starting in the 50s, it appears to have been a relatively stable period of two 6-team divisions.

The addition of Dallas and Minnesota caused it to be two 7-team divisions.    They put Dallas in the East, so Minnesota could be with Green Bay and Chicago.

The addition of Atlanta caused them to have one 8-team division and one 7-team.   

The following year, they added the Saints and split into four 4-team divisions.

The merger in 1970 produced four divisions of 4-teams and two divisions of 5-teams.   There were uneven divisions for decades after that.

Since: Dec 28, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:07 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios


There are trade-offs and no plan is perfect

I thinking trying to preserve some semblence of the Conferences is good.

I'm sure the networks could easily work out the issues you raise in the markets affected.     Fox and CBS could swap the teams out  -  or just keep the rights to the teams as they are now, even though the teams have different divisions under a new system.  The networks already have formulas for when the Conferences play each other and when NBC comes in and takes the Sunday night game.

Of course something has to be given up.  However, the Florida teams are ailing and rivalries could give them a boost.

To address one of your points, I dont think it makes sense to divide the nation into 4 regions.   I realize the South is sitting there, with an SEC-like regional potential.    However I like keeping some of the Conferences together.

Again, I like the idea of having Green Bay play the Giants twice a year -  and the Giants playing the Chicago Bears twice a year.   These teams have histories together.

The Giants also have history with the old Baltimore Colts.    I like the idea of Baltimore coming in and also creating a Washington Philly "cluster" with Baltimore.

Even though the NFL started in the Midwest, the AFC seems to have a good number of teams in Ohio and states near Ohio.

I have heard many fans complaining about the Texas situation, with Arizona and New Orleans going to different divisions.   Those are four different divisions.   Florida is three different divisions.  

I know fans travel between cities to see their teams play away games.   My sense is that this is happening more now than decades ago.   I think a re-alignment would help develop the rivalries.

One might want to research the history of the Cardinals.    When they were in St. Louis, I believe they were in the NFC East with Dallas.   Before that, I think the Cardinals were in Chicago in the "Eastern Conference."   
The Baltimore Colts were in the "Western Conference" which goes a bit against what I said.  

Ironically, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in the same division with the Giants.

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2011 11:21 am

18 game schedule

- You refer to an in depth discussion about the 18-game schedule.  Could you point us to a link to the discussion, or summarize what was discussed?  It seems to me the leading ideas behind an 18-game / 8 div schedule would be whether a team plays 2 full divisions in conference and no opponents from the 3rd division in conf. vs. playing 1 full division and then 2 opponents in the other 2 divisions based on previous year's standings.

While division realignment is fun and interesting, I don't see it happening.  I think it is preferred to have the same number of teams in each division.  And until somebody moves cities, I don't see any re-aligning of the divisions.  Would I make minor tweaks?  Yes.  The only thought I have is what if AFC/NFC conference alignment was dumped in favor of East/West conferences like the NBA or NHL?  Does anyone feel strongly one way or the other about that?

Oh, just for the record, let it be known that I prefer a 16-game season to 18-game season.  16 games really is a brutal season, and while I admit that pre-season sucks for the fans, it is really important for the coaches to make personnel decisions and for those guys fighting for roster spots.

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2011 2:57 am

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

I never really thought about it before, but the MLB and NFL have always been set up so that most pairs of teams that are in the same geographic area are in opposite leagues/conferences. It makes sense from a television perspective, so that NY fans can watch the Jets on CBS and the Giants on Fox in the same week, Bay Area fans can watch the 49ers on Fox and the Raiders on CBS in the same week, likewise with the Ravens/Redskins, Texans/Cowboys, Chiefs/Rams, etc.  There are obviously exceptions, such as the Browns/Bengals being in the same state and the same conference, as well as the 3 Florida teams, but I'm not really sure how the states of OH or FL break down in terms of where each team's main fan base reaches.

By putting all the CA, FL, TX teams into the same divisions, that means that all of their games would have to be shown on the same network, and that would mean that many fans would lose the opportunity to watch their teams' games on network TV every week. I am aware that people can subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket, or they can go to a sports bar to watch the games, but for the league to maintain as many television viewers as it has become accustomed to, they want to make all games available to the widest audience possible, especially in regions where teams have devoted fan bases.  

This may seem like a small thing to you, but I believe it is something the league has always kept in mind when it placed new teams into conferences. In 1970 PIT moved to the AFC, separating them from PHI, BAL moved to the AFC, separating them from WASH. In 1977, TB was put into the NFC, opposite from MIA. In 2002, HOU was put into the AFC, opposite from DAL.  

As long as the league's TV contracts are set up so that one network shows AFC teams, and the other shows NFC teams, I see absolutely no chance that they would ever move all the teams in the same geographic area into the same division/conference. I am also a little unclear about why TB would develop these great rivalries with MIA and JAX. Couldn't current TB fans get just as excited about their rivalries with NO, ATL, and CAR as they would with the other Florida teams? Do you not think that Dolphins fans who have enjoyed the rivalries with NYJ, NE, and BUF over the last 45 years would be a little upset at not being able to play their longtime rivals every year anymore? Or don't you think Cowboys fans would miss being able to play PHI, WASH, and NYG?<br><br>
This was your proposed AFC South/West:

and then you said this:

And if the only reason is to be able to bring in teams like Seattle and Detroit into Jacksonville, well let that be what is given up.

So you don't want to have The Jaguars play Seattle or Detroit, not to mention the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Packers, and Bears, etc. once every 4 years, but you want them to play OAK, SF, SD, KC, and DEN twice every year? In your efforts to attract Jacksonville fans by building strong regional rivalries, you have set them up so that half of their division rivals are an entire continent away. How is that any better than them playing IND, HOU, and TEN like they have for the last 9 years, with the other 28 NFL teams rotating through?

Since: Dec 28, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:56 pm


Let me tell you something about Rivalries

I have been in bars outside of Wrigleyfield which become invaded by St. Louis Cardinals' fans.

I have felt the elation of seeing those fans miserable because the Cubs just beat their team.

I have felt the misery of watching them be happy in Chicago bars.

Its all about the fans  -  fans loving some teams and hating other teams.   Its about traveling to another City to see you team fight a rival in an away game.

Having Oakland come in to certain cities every 4 years doesn't excite anyone, that could be stretched out to 5 or 6 years.

Dallas and Houston should play each other more than once every 4 years.   Importing Oakland or Seattle doesn't cut it.

All over the League there are "clusters" of potential RIVALRIES stuck in a 4 year or 3 year rotation.   It makes no sense.

Since: Dec 28, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:42 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

Obviously, we disagree

I believe are are strong opportunities for Rivalries which just arent happening

If you want to see a player in person, travel to another city.    Chicago is not that far away.     
I dont think much is being given up by not seeing a player for 5 years, instead of 4 years

However I see much that can be gained

Right now, the Florida teams are ailing.   Some of them only see each other once every 4 years.     
; I say have them play each other twiice a year, develop rivalries and increase ticket sales.     For Jacksonville to only play Tampa once every 4 years is silly.    And if the only reason is to be able to bring in teams like Seattle and Detroit into Jacksonville, well let that be what is given up.

There is always give and take.

The variances with SoS are not solved with 4 Divisions  -  however the potential for rivalries is more important.   Im glad I made all these comments, because I got to think that through.

I think having only 3 Division rivals leaves so much to be desired.    Some divisions used to have 6 teams, which produced 5 rivals.

I honestly believe these issues should be reviewed.   I believe the 8 division structure has had unintended consequences, like what happens when teams are stuck in an overly strong, or overly weak division for years on end.    Larger divisions does not allow for that kind of magnification, in either direction.

Finally, I like the idea of getting Green Bay and Chicago into the Giants' Division.     There is a historical aspect to it which is appealing.    I also like the idea of getting Baltimore in the Division with Washington and Philly.     I think it would be great if all these were together.

When I started to mess with that on paper, I just found that 4 Divisions seemed to work better from a rivalry and "cluster" standpoint.   Everytime I tried 6 Divisions, it never seemed to come together.    That is why I started to think that 6 Divisions was not much of an improvement, but the move to 4 Divisions yielded a great number of benefits.

I believe the rivalries are the most important issue.   And seeing a team once every 3 or 4 years does not develop that.   What develops the sense of rivalry is fighting for a Division championship or a playoff spot.    The dynamics of larger Divisions should be thoughtfully considered

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:00 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

Sorry for the length of that earlier post, and sorry to anyone who tried to read it without the paragraph breaks, but I realize I forgot to address the main reason that I believe current system works, which is that the divisions rotate their schedules, so that if the NFC West is the weakest division, as it has been for the last 3 years, then all 3 other divisions will have an opportunity to face that weak division over a period of time. While the NFC South had the advantage this year of playing the NFC West, in 2009 the NFC North had that same advantage, and GB rode its 4-0 record against the West to a wild card berth. In 2008 the NFC East got to play the West, which by overall record, was even worse than the 2010 West, and was also the worst division in the 9 years of the current format with a record of 22-42. The NFC East went 12-4 against the West, but DAL and WASH were both just 2-2, and they both missed the playoffs, largely due to those 2 losses. In 2007, both the AFC South and NFC East put 3 teams in the playoffs, with their 4th place team finishing 8-8. The AFC South benefited by playing the AFC West and NFC South, both of which were very weak that season, while the NFC East got to play the AFC East, which despite NE's 16-0 mark, had a combined record of just 28-36 that year.  My point being that having a seemingly easy schedule does not automatically put a team in the playoffs, you still have to win those games. <br><br>
Okay, I think I'm done for now, to anyone who read my entire rambling, thanks for humoring me and feel free to take issue with any or all of it.

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2011 9:37 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

To Chili

First of all, I do apologize if some of the comments I have made have sounded rude or mean-spirited. Some of that was probably just my often poor attempts at humor and/or sarcasm. I am all for a spirited discussion, and while I may not agree with many of the points you have made or proposals you have suggested, I will admit that you have brought up some interesting things relating to the 4-team divisions that I may not have considered otherwise. I apologize also for the confusion between myself and the other Jeff that was actually posting in defense of your position regarding the Giants' SOS. Now, to new business...

I think the thing we disagree on the most is that I believe that the current setup of the league works extremely well. I like the fact that the schedule rotation is set up so that every team in the league will play every other team in a certain amount of time. I believe that if the league were to change to four 8-team divisions, as you have proposed, that it would be virtually impossible to keep that aspect of schedule rotation intact. I like the fact that for any star player, that plays in the league for at least 10-12 years, will have the opportunity to face every team in the league at least 2-3 times, and the fans in all 32 NFL cities will also have the opportunity to see those players in person. This may seem like a small thing, as what difference does it really make to the world of the NFL as a whole if, for example, fans in Buffalo never got to see Jerry Rice or Barry Sanders, or if fans in Pittsburgh never got to see Brett Favre or Deion Sanders, or if fans in Detroit never got to see Rod Woodson or Junior Seau. These are all hypothetical casess thrown out off the top of my head, not actual examples of players who never visited a certain city, but under the old 5-team divisions there were all kinds of instances of certain teams not facing each other for long periods of time simply due to random chance causing them to miss each other in the schedule rotations. In this current era of free agency and constant roster turnovers, this may be an antiquated notion of mine, since many notable players such as Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Darren Sharper, Thomas Jones, etc. may change teams several times in their careers, so they won't necessarily play every team and in every city over the course of their careers, but I still like the principal of this setup. 

I also like the way the current schedule sets teams up to play everyone in the opposing conference every 4 years. I am a Colts fan, so I'll use them as an example. In 2002 the Colts lost to the Redskins and the Giants, so when 2006 came around I was anxiously awaiting the chance for the Colts to avenge those losses. Likewise, the 2003 Colts had their early undefeated season ended at home by the Carolina Panthers, so when 2007 came around and the Colts beat Carolina, I took an extra ounce of satisfaction out of that victory, despite the fact that the Panthers were not a great team that year, and I believe they were led in that game by a fresh-off-his-couch Vinny Testaverde. Similarly, I couldn't wait for the Colts to get revenge on the Seahawks and Cowboys for beating the Colts in 2005 and 2006. This may seem like a silly thing, and I may be the only person in the world who thinks about stuff like this, but I find that it is just one of the many things I like about the current schedule format and rotation.

I pointed out a few days back that it would be hard to put the league back into 6 divisions from 8, not that it would be impossible, but that it would create a lot of strange circumstances as far as which teams were placed into which divisions. My point about 32 not dividing equally into 6 was not to say that it would be impossible for a league to have unequal divisions, just that I don't believe it is an ideal setup. Yes, the league did operate from 1970 to 1994 with unequal division, and again from 1999 to 2001, but I firmly believe that if there are 32 teams, a number which does evenly divide into 4 or 8, that there is no reason not to have teams divided up evenly. I believe that the fact that the league did choose to realign into 8 division in 2002 shows that whomever the decision makers are in the league office agree with me in this regard. They could have simply placed the Texans into the NFC Central (or West) and continued on with 6 divisions of 5 or 6 teams each, but since they chose to make such radical changes to the league's existing format in 2002, I certainly don't see any reason for them to go back to the way it was before.

Now to your proposal to move to four 8-team divisions, I have to admit, I'm not entirely opposed to the idea, but I don't really see all the huge problems with the current setup which you seem to, so I don't really see any possibility that the league would adopt this approach any time in the near future. I would be a strong proponent of keeping the league's tradition of all division teams playing each other twice. I would greatly oppose any setup where in an 8-team division teams only played 7 or 10 or 12 division games. I believe they must play 14, to prevent an inequity where the two teams competing for the division title only play once, and of course one team would have to have home-field advantage for that game. Playing 14 of 18 games within the division would then lead to only 4 non-division games, which I would believe then lead to more of the same schedule inequalities for teams battling for wild card spots that you dislike in the current format. There are certainly many different ways the league could choose to draw up schedules for a hypothetical 4 division league, and I'm not saying that I would be violently opposed to any or all of them, just that I think one can find positive or negative aspects for any potential format, and personally I think I would prefer the current setup over any radically changed one.

Your main argument for the 8-team division, "THE CLASH OF THE TITANS", I feel is a good idea in theory, but I think the current format has more than enough of these games already. Having games like GB-NYG, CHI-NYG, BAL-WASH, BAL-PHI, PIT-NE, PIT-IND, NE-IND twice a season may seem awesome, but what you would be taking away is the number of quality inter-division and inter-conference games that take place every year under the current system.  In 2010, we saw NE-GB, NE-CHI, NE-MIN, NYJ-GB, NYJ-CHI, NYJ-MIN, NE-PIT, NE-BAL, NYJ-PIT, NYJ-BAL, NE-IND, NE-SD, IND-NYG, IND-PHI, IND-DAL, IND-KC, IND-SD, PIT-ATL, PIT-NO, BAL-ATL, BAL-NO, PH-ATL, PHI-CHI, PHI-GB, NYG-CHI, NYG-GB, NO-MIN, NO-DAL. Now I included teams like MIN, DAL, and even SD in that list, teams that were not as good as expected in 2010, but still made for entertaining games with some of the teams listed. By going to the 4 division format, yes, there would be more big-time games in the division, but only at the expense of the number of quality matchups taking place outside the division.

I would have absolutely no problem with the Colts being put in a division with NE and PIT, as well as NYJ and TEN, but that would seem a little unfair to teams like BUF and CLE to have to compete with all those powerhouse teams every year, while based on the trends of the past 7 years, in many of those years San Diego would have a virtual cakewalk to the division title in the 8-team AFC South/West that you proposed. Again, as a Colts fan I would have no problem with it, but as an NFL fan it would seem to create just as much, if not more inequality as under the current system.  As a Colts fan, I am used to playing all the other AFC first-place teams every season, and I would love it if the new 18-game format featured even more of these 1-1 matchups. Next year, the Colts will play ATL, NO, TB, and CAR from the NFC, and I would love the 2 extra games to be inter-conference matchups against teams with the same division ranking the prior year, so 2011 could see IND-PHI and IND-CHI, for example. 

The proposals I've seen some people make, that the 2 extra games will be used to make it so the 1st and 4th place teams in a division play all the same teams, as do the 2nd and 3rd place teams, I think would be a huge mistake by the NFL. 4th place teams should get to play at least a slightly easier schedule than 1st and 2nd place teams, and I would have no problem with that inequity being made a little bit steeper with the move to an 18-game schedule. Again, as a Colts fan that would make for more difficult games and schedules for my team, but I would welcome the additional challenge.

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2011 9:36 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

GRR, sorry,  I screwed up my paragraph breaks, so don't read any of that and I will repost above.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or