Author Archives: Tim L.
(this was written before the games but apparently there was an upload error… sorry about) So those Lions eh? Basically, we have most of our playoffs clear, and we have a bunch teams that are leaning on a lot of other things to happen, so I made a graph of the teams on the bubble, to see where everything stands.
Basically, if the Chargers or Steelers make it, or the Saints don’t, something nutty happened. Don’t ask me why I included the Niners, they’re in no matter what…
Less pithy this week because of the holidays, but enjoy. I’ll do a season post-mortem after this week,
It’s another delightful week of playoff probabilities. With the end of the season just two short weeks away, things are clearing up pretty nicely. Or maybe not at all…
The Lions took a real nice nosedive over the last few weeks, and they can kiss the playoff goodbye. Additionally, the Packer’s tie against the Vikings, while sad on its surface, was actually good, as it boosts them past the Lions. The Bears are in the driver seat, but we can all just agree the NFC North is pathetic. Speaking of sad against the Vikings and pathetic in general, the NFC East! The Eagles could have put away the division, but nope. And yet, they hang onto the East as well as the three seed, thanks to the sadness and patheticness (that’s a perfectly cromulent word) of the Bears and Cowboys.
The big game in the NFC this week is also the big game in sorting out the playoffs, the Saints at the Panthers. The loser of that game has to hope for help from the opponents of the 49ers to hang onto the fifth seed, while the winner should be a near-lock for the two-seed (this is presuming the Seahawks don’t stumble, and take the first seed.)
Over in the AFC, the big Ravens/Dolphins dogfight continues. This is a big week, since the Ravens play the Pats while the Dolphins draw the festering corpse known in most places as the Buffalo Festering Corpses. If the Ravens survive the Patriots, they close the season with the Bengals, who could actually be fighting for the two seed and a bye (again, assuming a Pats loss in week 16.) But the Dolphins still have the Jets, so despite the Ravens having the tiebreaker, the odds are in favor of the Fins.
There are some longshots out there. You can see from the chart, the Steelers and Chargers still have a chance, tiny though it may be. Likewise, the Cardinals, Packers, Lions and Cowboys are still alive. All of these teams need a lot of losing to take place to stand much of a shot, but they could feasibly sneak in. This is what we all love about the NFL: mediocre teams playing out the string, hoping for other mediocre teams to lose! Catch the fever!
This post is a little late in coming, thanks to a few real life things that popped up, but here we are. Thursday nights Chargers-Broncos game was inconsequential.
As for last week and the playoff probabilities, we have the formula we use solidifying the AFC and it actually contrasts the official picture (we are not the only ones). According to NFL tie-breaking procedures, the Ravens are currently in, but as you can see, we have their actual playoff probability under .5 while Dolphins who are currently just outside the bubble in real life enjoy about a 2/3 probability of making the playoffs. As I alluded to last week, it’s all about the remaining schedules. The Dolphins play the Pats today in their last game against a winning team while the Ravens remaining schedule is all winning teams. (Both play the Patriots, but the Dolphins then play the Bills and the Jets, while the Ravens get Detroit, followed by the Pats, then the Bengals). We’ll see how our formula stands up.
Over in the NFC, the East and South both flip-flopped in terms of leaders, which matters in the East but not in the South. The Saints and Panthers are both locks to go in, it’s just the battle for the two-seed. In the east, the Eagles and the Cowboys for the third time in the last four weeks, keeping fans of mediocrity on their edge of their seats. I guess the Eagles haven’t been THAT mediocre, but still. Speaking of mediocrity, check on the NFC North. At the moment the Lions have the tiebreaker, as well as the edge in our numbers (ever so slightly). The comforting thing is knowing that someone has to win that division. And then get a homefield advantage against better teams in either the 49ers or Panthers.
So some interesting things going on here.
Our numbers put Carolina just ahead of the Saints, even though they’re tied. They have both of their games against one another left. I think, since the other two teams on their respective schedules are bad teams, just different bad teams (Jets and Falcons for the Panthers, Rams and Bucs for the Saints), the difference is attributable to the fact that the Saints have the short week coming off their Monday loss to the Seahawks (not to mention some mechanical issues keeping them in Seattle). It’s a small difference, and not particularly meaningful, since they’re both playoff-bound. Sunday will go some way in figuring out gets which playoff spot.
Looks like the NFC North wrapped itself up with the Lions’ big win over the Packers on Thanksgiving coupled with the Bears losing performance against Minnesota. The Niners might have righted their ship, so they’re in good shape as the current 6th seed, while the Cardinals’ brief flirtation with relevance is once again tucked away, as it won’t be needed again util 2014, thank you Philly. Speaking of, the Cowboys and the Eagles kept pace, so week 17 Philly at Dallas could be a pretty big deal, as it is probable the loser of the NFC East will be sitting right at home.
Over in the AFC, the Dolphins and Ravens apparently decided they want to play football instead of whatever crap the majority of the AFC has been doing all year. The Titans, Chargers, and Steelers all really plummeted. And the Jets… well they’ve always been terrible, but now I think we can officially call them thusly.
The AFC Wild Card #2 all comes down to a footrace between Baltimore and Miami. They both play New England, and as I’ve said before, Bill Belichick is shameless when it comes to meaningless games (fun game, google “Belichick running up score” and count how many articles come up referring to the same game. I stopped at the first page, but literally none of the articles refer to the same incident.) Anyway, the Ravens play the crummy Vikings, plus first place Lions, the first place Bengals. The Dolphins, on the other hand, play the essentially finished Steelers (though they have a shot and doubtlessly will not forfeit the game, you can take that prediction to Vegas), plus the last place Bills and the blight-upon-humanity known as the Jets. So I’d say the schedule favors the Dolphins by a good amount.
Another week and we are really no closer to settling this sixth AFC spot. The fins took a big step towards it, but we still have those Titans (who if you’ll recall, I said was the team with the easiest path… way to take advantage of that, fellas) hanging around, and, despite being a blight upon humanity, the Jets are still in the hunt. I can editorialize very easily, thanks. The titans actually have the sixth seed on tie breakers, and the Jets and Dolphins are actually at the bottom of the mass of 5-6 crapitude. But the Stats in the Wild formula gives the Dolphins the best chance. I think it helps that the Jets and Dolphins face off twice, that SHOULD (and this is not a promise) clarify things slightly. Now watch them split.
Over in the NFC, the Cards continue their slow creep, and the niners, once in a very very strong position, now in a weaker position (I’m a regular Wordsworth.) The Lions are currently in the drivers seat; thanks to two wins over the Bears and a win over the Cowboys they are actually the current three seed, despite a 6-5 record. Enjoy no advantage Carolina, despite your third-best record in the NFC. But, geez, is that NFC North a mess. Any of those three teams can take it, and they must think they’re vying for an AFC Wild Card, since no one seems to want it very much.
I’d write more, but it’s Thanksgiving Eve, and in a half day, this is mostly irrelevant when the Packers play the Lions. Someone has to win. But then they can lose the following week and I type the same stuff again.
So, big moves in the NFC- Carolina’s win was huge, as they’re in the driver’s seat now. The NFC East and North are where the races are in the Senior Circuit (that’s a thing in football, right?)
In the NFC North, the Lions and Packers took a page right out of the AFC second WC spot chasers by losing to terrible teams (the Steelers and Giants respectively.) The Lions still have the easiest schedule of the Bears/Packers/Lions group, as they only play two more wining teams (Packers and Eagles), whereas the Packers have the Lions, Cowboys and Bears and the Bears have the Cowboys, Eagles and Packers. Of course, this analysis requires the you to ignore the fact that the Eagles and Cowboys are the Eagles and Cowboys.
The Niners seem to have decided to suck, as they have a less than .5 probability now as do the Cowboys. The Niners have a rougher road ahead, since they won’t win their division whereas the Cowboys can still win (ed.- The Niners are still the current 5 seed in the NFC playoff race but because of the division race being out of reach, the Cowboys have a slightly rosier outlook according to the formula we use.) But that means those team need to stop being losers. Good luck, guys!
Over in the race to be the crappiest team in the playoffs, aka the second AFC Wild Card team, the Dolphins decided they’d win, while literally every other team that has any kind of shot at taking the spot losing. So… um… I can’t wait to see which team gets to lose to
either the Chiefs or Broncos the three seed (right now the Pats- h/t crcalpha) in round one.
Well, that was an interesting week. The Cowboys loss to the Saints paired with the Eagles win over the Packers shook up the playoff races a bit. The Cowboys and Eagles are now almost tied in playoff probability, while the Packers now are behind the Lions. Meanwhile, the Saints win keeps them ahead of the Panthers, who have been charging towards a playoff spot. So, the take home message of last week is “what a bloody mess the NFC East is.”
Speaking of messes how about this race for the sixth AFC spot? It ain’t often that the biggest win comes from not playing, but them Jets and Browns, sitting idle for the bye really, really benefited from an atrocious week from their competitors. The Titans losing to the Jaguars, the Chargers dropping their second straight, and the Dolphins losing to the woeful Buccaneers. The Ravens got a bump from a win over the Bengals, the only question for Baltimore is whether it will be a serious turn around for the Ravens or just a dead cat bounce from all the other sucking going on in the AFC Wild Card race.
In terms of the overall picture, this week was good for people who want to see actual races. As, in terms of the numbers, we went from one real race (NFC North) to two (now the NFC East- Seriously, look at the change in the NFC East graph there!). And by race, I actually mean divisions where whoever loses will sit out (obviously, the AFC West and NFC South are in play, but the losers will still probably be making the playoffs.) The Eagles/Cowboys, and the Packers/Lions/Bears all could be sitting on keisters come January. Mathematically, the 49ers are also on the bubble, but right now, they’re better off than the rest of those jokers, especially since the Saints represent one of only two winning teams they have on their schedule (the Seahawks, being the other.)
Looking forward to Week 11, Broncos/Chiefs doesn’t really affect the races, only who has a shot at home field advantage (as will their second game in week 13.) With the Cowboys on bye, the Eagles get to play poor, poor Washington and can take the reins in the NFC East. The Packers and Lions both play crappy teams, and if this season has a theme it’s “which team will fall on their face against the much worse team.” The Saints play the Niners while the Panthers play the Pats, so neither has that easy of a game ahead of them. The Jets get the Bills, so they should win, and probably won’t. The Browns play their division leaders, so I assume they’ll lose. The Titans play the Colts, so that won’t be easy either.
So, for the betting public, bet on teams that seem good to lose against the teams that should not win. Unless this week, the teams that should win do win. Then bet that way. Or be extra safe, and bet on both teams. YOU LITERALLY CANNOT LOSE THAT WAY!
So the Browns beating the Ravens flipped them behind the Browns, but the big moves came in the AFC East where the saw-tooth Jets have almost caught up with Dolphins (the Dolphins, by dint of the remaining schedule, hold the edge, despite trailing by a half-game… I think half-games are a thing in football. I already miss baseball…). Meanwhile the Chargers really shot themselves in the foot, while the Titans beat the lowly Rams, and towed the line. So it is looking like it’s now Jets/Dolphins/Browns/Titans for the sixth AFC playoff spot.
Meanwhile in the NFC, things are interesting, the Saints and Panthers apparently are trying to making a bit of a race of the NFC South. The NFC North is where the accent is really alive, though, with the Packers, Bears and Lions all sitting at 5-3. The Bears have the toughest schedule of the group (only three crappy teams left on their schedule, with the Ravens, Rams and Vikes. The Packers have four (Giants, Vikings, Steelers, and Falcons) and Lions have five crappy Steelers, Giants, Vikings, Bucs, and Ravens. The Lions are in a virtual tie with the Packers in our formula, but schedule may suggest that’s who has the edge. Only time will tell.
Unless something nutty happens in the next eight weeks, we’re looking at exactly the NFC North and MAYBE if Carolina puts together some big games (that’s with games against the Saints and Pats, who both are in but are also tough teams…). But wait! Count those AFC teams that are hovering near 1.00 and you only find five teams (KC is hiding there just behind the Broncos.) So who will get the sixth playoff spot for the AFC? While it looks like a race to the bottom for the AFC East teams that aren’t the Pats, the Fins along with the Chargers, Titans, Ravens and Browns all have punchers’ chances at that last spot. This Sunday’s Browns vs Ravens match up and the Week 11 SD vs Miami game could both loom large.
I feel stupid for even saying this, but I think the second Wild Card will actually be a bit interesting. The probabilities in chart take into consideration remaining strength of schedule, but clearly it’s worth looking at it in some detail. The Chargers have two games against Denver and one against KC, but KC is week 17, and they get to play the Giants and Raiders. The Dolphins schedule isn’t too bad, they play the Bengals this week, and the Patriots again, but not until week 15 (though we know Belichick doesn’t let off the gas pedal), plus Carolina and SD. The rest of their schedule is light, with two games against the Jets (who have a nice saw-tooth win/loss/win pattern going, and if that pattern holds, they’d lose both games against the Dolphins*) , plus the BIlls, Steelers and Bucs. Baltimore has two left against Cincy (though one in week 17) plus the Bears, Lions, Pats with only the Vikings and the Steelers as absolute terrible opponent. The Browns have only one left against the Bengals, the Pats plus the Bears, while they have two against Pittsburgh and one against Jacksonville. They both play the Jets, so who know what will happen there.
* I do not think there is some magic pattern leading the Jets to an 8-8 season. I think it’s that they’re not a very good team.
I personally would think the the smart money is on the Titans. They have two games against the Colts and one against the Broncos, but they also have two against the Jags, and one each versus the Rams, the Raiders, the Texans, and the Cardinals, four teams who are demonstrably terrible.
Stick with us to see how the playoff picture unfolds. Do not stick with certain other sites, who (no lie) actually seem to think the Bengals week 7 49-9 win over the Jets is somehow going to make it harder for them to beat the Dolphins. Um…. sure.
The Broncos’ loss to the Colts appears caused some changes, though not as much as one might think. The loss allowed the 7-0 Chiefs to take the lead in the AFC West, but only just. Meanwhile, the Colts’ win puts the screws to the the rest of the AFC South. The Cowboys win over the Eagles boosts them quite a ways over the rest of the NFC East, the Bengals can hit cruise control. Thankfully, the NFC North and West exist, otherwise, their would be no drama whatsoever.