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Playoff Picture: Early tiebreaker notes for Week 11 and beyond

By Joe Ferreira | Special to CBSSports.com

Golden Tate and the Seahawks could have plenty to smile about in a few weeks.
Golden Tate and the Seahawks could have plenty to smile about in a few weeks. (USATSI)

Welcome back to another season of NFL playoff tiebreaker analysis! For those of you not familiar with me and my work on the NFL Playoff Picture, this is my 22nd consecutive season handling official tiebreaker scenarios for the NFL, with the last 13 including work for CBS Sports.

Should be an interesting ride in both conferences this year. The AFC has mostly clear division leaders, except for the KC-Denver duo, but also has a nice log jam around the last Wild Card spot currently led by the N.Y. Jets.

On the NFC side, Seattle seems to be the only team pulling away in a division, but we still have a number of weeks to play and we're likely to see some trailing teams make a run.

A couple quick team notes:

SEATTLE can clinch the NFC West title by winning their next three games (Minnesota, New Orleans, at San Francisco). That would get Seattle to 12-4 at worst with a season sweep of San Francisco. The best San Francisco could be is 12-4, but they would have been swept by Seattle. Arizona can still get to 12-4 but would have to win out to do so, including a win over San Francisco on Week 17, which would defeat any chances of a three-way tie at 12-4. Regardless, Seattle would beat Arizona at 12-4 even with a season split based on division record (4-2 to 3-3).

KANSAS CITY can clinch the AFC West title at home in three weeks when they host Denver if they win their next two games at Denver and vs. San Diego, and Denver loses at New England on Week 12. That would have Kansas City at 12-4 at worst with a season sweep of Denver, and Denver would be 12-4 at best.

NEW ORLEANS is positioned well going forward with a 5-0 conference record and 2-0 division record. Playoff tiebreakers are often determined by conference record and with Carolina having two of their three losses at the hands of NFC foes (Seattle and Arizona), winning conference games like this week's game against San Francisco will be key for the Saints' playoff run.

On the other side of that conference record coin are the N.Y. JETS. All four losses the Jets have suffered are in conference (the Bears have the same issue in the NFC) with the only silver lining being that both of New England's losses are against AFC teams.

Enjoy the ride!

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