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 18, 2008
Posted on: January 2, 2011 12:23 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

Chili, interesting breakdown of teams. And you tied it together nicely with examining what the schedules would look like.  There is precedence for the idea to designate rivalries within a division and guarantee two games every year against those teams. The acc basketball conference did that when they expanded to 11 and eventually 12 teams. For example, every season Maryland plays 5 teams twice and 6 teams once, for a total of 16 games. There is a rotation in place to guarantee that they play different teams twice each year. HOWEVER, Maryland is guaranteed to play Duke and Virginia twice every year as they are Maryland's designated rivals. The designated rivals have remained permanent over the years but I imagine the conference could re-evaluate the rival pairings every so often if they choose. They are truly pairings, not clusters, because Duke and Virginia are not "rivals" despite each being "rivals" with Maryland. Clusters though is an equally valid idea.

Since: Dec 28, 2009
Posted on: January 2, 2011 11:04 am


What makes Rivalries develop is two strong teams fighting it out WITHIN a division

Right now, we have so many Mini-divisions, the strong teams are dispersed so there is little to fight about.   Everyone gets to win a meaningless Mini-division.

Mathematically, the average right now is two strong teams and two weak teams per division.   Which means, realistically, on average there are two teams per year going for the division championship.   

However, except for Steelers-Balt, not much rivalries have developed around the League.   8 Mini-divisions has it watered down way too much.    

Realistically, with the average two strong teams per division, you really only get 2 good division games per year.   It is too watered down.   I would much rather see 3 or 4 strong teams in a larger division playing each other twice a year.    That way, you get 12 match-ups per year - matching strong team with strong team - in each division.    WE NEED THE CLASH OF TITANS.


Since: Dec 28, 2009
Posted on: January 2, 2011 10:16 am


Thank you all for at least entertaining this discussion

Joe - I believe the Giants have been among the worst hit by the present structure, both because of the tough division schedule over the years AND because they hit the rough side of the rotation of the divisions.    I find 3 division opponents uninspiring.

I would go all the way and create 4 Divisions   (names can come later)

I would attempt to pick up "clusters" of teams in order to build rivalries over time.    I don't know why the NFL would not want to at least look at this and think for a while as a partial solution to teams with weaker ticket sales.    If the 3 Florida teams are "clustered" and rivalries develop with them playing each other twice a year, I believe it would be better.

NFC North - East

NFC   South - West

AFC  North - East

AFC South - West

I "clustered" the teams.    The Titans could easily fit into a southern division.    The Rams could also be paired with KC for a Missouri connection, if people want to jumble various combinations

All these teams could play each other twice a year, or the League could draw two division rivals to play only once a year in order to free up more games for non-division teams.

I am convinced that the FANS would be more interested in watching these regular-season match-ups, rather than what we have now.   And you will all say that the ratings are high, but I believe the ratings would be higher.    Again, I am more concerned with the schedules during the regular season more than any other measure one might utilize to evaluate the various division structures.



Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 2, 2011 5:18 am

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

I forgot to add, the ONE wildcard receives an automatic bye into the Super Bowl, with the 11 division winners battling it out for the other spot. Just because.

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 2, 2011 5:15 am

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

I think I've had enough wacky realignment talk for the night. I think I completely agree with most of that loquacious, rambling soliloquy by Matt, and he summed it up perfectly: "To me, I can't help but ask why anyone would complain about a system that, while flawed, is so great."  I couldn't have said it better myself.

That's all for me, talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: What if the NFL added an expansion franchise in Los Angeles, expanding to 33 teams, and wanted to realign into 11 3-team divisions? The playoffs would consist of 11 division winners and ONE wildcard. How would you divide the teams into 11 divisions, and what would you call each division? Be creative! One catch, no team can be in the same division with any team that is in its division now. One more catch, no division can include more than one team that has won a Super Bowl since 1995. Final catch, no division can include more than one Head Coach named "Mike". Have fun!

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 2, 2011 4:13 am

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

Matt, great points. One point to add to yours: 8 divisions allows more teams to be division champs each year, and (in the long run) increases the frequency a given team will be a division champ.  That said, I'm enjoying our discussion on the possibility of 6 divisions instead of 8.

Jeff and abc, both of your alignments make sense from a geographical standpoint, and I like how each of you tried to preserve some of the existing rivalries. If I were to make 6 divisions I would keep the current NFC East intact - because I really believe Dallas has a strong tie to the other teams. (I am not concerned with making Jerry Jones happy or driving up the net worth of the Cowboys.) Additionally, I would try to keep Kansas City in the same division as Oakland and Denver, even if it meant splitting up the West teams in two divisions, (with each containing midwest teams). Abc, I think Den is as closely tied with Oak and KC as those teams are with each other.

As for my own realignment, I started with jeff's, then began moving teams around. The end result was that I kept all the same teams in the East, North, and West divisions (AFC and NFC), and filled them out with teams from the South divisions. This wasn't my intent - it just turned out this way.

AFC West
Kansas City
San Diego

AFC Central

AFC East
New England
New York Jets
(same as Jeff)

NFC West
San Francisco
St. Louis
New Orleans

NFC Central
Green Bay
Tampa Bay

NFC East
New York Giants

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 2, 2011 3:59 am

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

Geographically, Indy is a better fit than Baltimore in the North. So, in addition to my personal preference (back in 1999/2000) to have Baltimore be in the South with jacksonville and Tennessee, I honestly felt it was a mistake to not have Indy in the North. I didn't think Baltimore should be in the East because I didn't think Buffalo-Miami-New England-NY Jets should be split up.

It didn't take long (maybe a season or two) to get used to the AFC North, and today I'm very happy with the Steelers-Ravens rivalry and the somewhat Ravens-Bengals rivalry, apparent in Baltimore and I believe also in Cincinnati. Is it apparent outside of these cities? Ironically, it's the Ravens-Browns that has really fizzled (at least in Baltimore; cleveland fans might think differently?); ironic because many people expected a strong rivalry to develop between these teams due to the Browns moving from Cleveland to Baltimore.

The expected Ravens-Browns rivalry was likely one factor that went into the decision to put Baltimore in the North. That and the fact that the NFL likely viewed the budding Ravens-Steelers rivalry as a continuation of the long-standing Browns-Steelers rivalry. I believe Truckin99 is correct in that the intial (and immediate) spark to the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, in 1996,  was due to the pre-existing Steelers-Browns rivarly. Although, I think that aspect of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry went away in 1999 when Cleveland returned to the NFL.

ecaiv and chili, thanks for bringing me up to speed!

Since: Dec 21, 2008
Posted on: January 2, 2011 3:39 am

Theoretical Division Soup

While this discussion isn't going anywhere (not just on this board, but the NFL execs certainly aren't lining up to talk to us), it has bred some interesting passion.  First of all, we know that divisional alignment must use geography as one factor, but it can't be the only factor.  This country did not become populated with geographic symmetry as a primary concern, much less cities where football owners want to field a team using that criterion.  And while Brett is completely correct that new rivalries will form, the fact is that it is foolish to throw away all of history at the same time, so rivalries should be a second consideration.  Competitive balance is, indeed, a concern, but no matter how you slice it, you will get some imbalance.  I run a league where every year we try to even out the divisions based on the preceding year, the "ranking" of what we think will happen, and yet every year it is a little bit off.  So, we know something that will last beyond a single year will be at least somewhat imbalanced.

The primary reason for the divisions of four is that the NFL not only wants to grow rivalries, but it also wants to give fans a chance to see every team within a reasonable amount of time.  And if you put teams in divisions of 8, then that leaves only two out-of-division games, meaning it would take at least twelve years to play every other team in the league and at least 24 years to host every out-of-division team.  That's longer than Brett Favre's career.  Season ticket holders deserve to see these generational players more often than that.  Even with the potential to move to 18 games (a move I oppose greatly), you still would have to wait 12 years and that's assuming that they'd split out of division games equally.

More likely, any divisional realignment would play out of division games within the conference, so like the old AL/NL days, you'd never see teams (or players) from the other conference.  Even with six divisions, many teams would play 10 games in their division.  That leaves minimal opportunity to play those out of division teams, and most likely they would play one of the other divisions within the conference.  And don't even get someone started on the potential competitive imbalance of some teams having 8 division games and others having 10.  Talk about wild card imbalance.

So, in short, rivalries were a concern in creating the divisions, but I think they barely register when determining the number of divisions.  And as has been stated over and over, any team that loses out on a playoff spot because of schedule, had a lot to do with their elimination themselves.  The regular season weeds out teams.  Yes, some of them are better than a team that gets in.  But that's true of every system.  The fact is that noone can argue, "we had the best regular season in the league and didn't get to win."  You only have to be better than three teams to assure yourself a spot in the tournament.  Failing that, you have a chance to get in by beating out at least ten of the other non-division winners in your conference.  You may not have an equitable schedule, but then you have a better chance of winning ties.

Sure, larger divisions would get you better teams assured (or at least better recorded teams, as having more teams in a group playing each other would assure more equal distribution of wins amongst the groups, and it would be harder to indentify weak divisions until the playoffs).  But as it is, the fans get to see a few rivalries (and with the current structure, you can still have rivalries like Indianapolis-New England-San Diego develop outside divisions) and then they get to see every NFL team within reasonable time frames, virtually guaranteeing you the chance to see all Hall of Fame players in person, if you go to all the games.  And you have a fair chance to make the playoffs.  To me, I can't help but ask why anyone would complain about a system that, while flawed, is so great.

I suppose it is fun to hypothesize about these sorts of things.  But ultimately, as we draw up six very fair divisions, I think we would find that scheduling evenly with an uneven number of teams in the divisions would be even more difficult with which to have even schedules for the wild card teams.  And don't forget that division strength is cyclical. Sometimes a perceived weak division is only that way because they beat everyone up within the division.  So, as you can see from my loquacious, rambling, ignored soliloquy, I am a fan of the current system.  If you made it this far, email me and I'll send you the appropriate check.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:58 am

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

Let me just say this....

You guys are all both hilarious and out of control at the same time.   I love it.

Don't see the League adjusting divisions at this point.  Too many owners believe Division Championships among a small group of rivals/opponents is still something to hold onto...and going to NBA/NHL conference style system doesn't lend itself to that belief.

There's also no need to realign among current set up...IMHO.

The NFC West this year is an anomoly...teams and patterns change....remember when the Colts and Pats were 1-15?  Also..division champs don't repeat that often either.

Should be a fun post-season.   Unfortunately...don't think my Giants will make it.

SB XLV>>>>  &nbs
p; Pats 33, Eagles 20     Ugh. 

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2011 11:47 pm

FINAL Week 17 NFC Playoff Scenarios

I would do it like this in six divisions:






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