Week 16 Review

Posted: 12/24/2013 by levcohen in Football

Week 16 was a week of blowouts. Only six of the sixteen games ended in single digits, and the average margin of victory was nearly 15 points. Interestingly, two of the single digit games were actually games with double digit spreads. So yeah, it was a weird week in what has been a weird season.

In week 16, the Bengals, 49ers, and Panthers all clinched playoff spots, and now eight of the twelve playoff spots are locked up. Two of the remaining spots will be won in head-to-head matchups (NFC East: Eagles at Cowboys, NFC North: Packers at Bears), which leaves just two spots: A wildcard in the NFC and a wildcard in the AFC. As I’ll detail later, it’s not even that hard to dissect the scenarios that would see, say, the Cardinals or the Chargers in the playoffs. So all in all, the race for the playoffs has been simplified. All four AFC divisions have been clinched, and two NFC divisions will be clinched head-to-head, with the loser missing the playoffs altogether.

With that in mind, the playoff seeding is still almost totally up for grabs. In fact, only one playoff seed has been determined: the Kansas City Chiefs will be the #5 seed in the AFC. So the Chiefs have an opportunity to sit many of their key players (Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe come to mind), something some fantasy owners will have to overcome. But every other team in the playoff race, and even the ones that have clinched, still have something to play for. Let’s go through each seed and see what the scenarios are:

AFC- #1 seed:
This one is straightforward. The Broncos clinch the #1 seed with a win or a Patriots loss, and the Patriots need everything to go right: they need to beat the Bills and need the Raiders to upset Denver.

AFC- #2 seed:
If the Broncos lose and New England wins, Denver will be the #2 seed and get a first round BYE. If both the Broncos and Patriots win, the Patriots will be the #2 seed. However, if the Patriots lose, Cincinnati and Indianapolis have a chance at a BYE. Cincinnati needs just a win over Baltimore and a New England loss, while the Colts need to win and have both the Patriots and Bengals lose given that Cincinnati holds the tiebreaker over Indianapolis.

AFC- #3 seed:
The Bengals clinch AT LEAST a #3 seed with a win, while the Colts need a win and a Cincinnati loss to move up. The Broncos will not fall past #2, while the Patriots will be #3 with a loss and a Cincinnati win or with a loss, an Indianapolis win, and a Cincinnati loss.

AFC- #4 seed: The Bengals, Colts, and Patriots can also all still be the #4. If each win, the Colts will stay at #4, so the Colts need some help if they want to climb out of the #4.

AFC- #5 seed: Kansas City Chiefs are locked into this spot.

AFC- #6 seed: Four teams (Miami, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego) still have a shot here. The Steelers stand a game behind, so their path is simple: they need to win and have all of their counterparts to lose. Both Miami and Baltimore have tiebreaker advantages over San Diego, so the Chargers need to beat the Chiefs and have both Miami and Baltimore lose. Here’s where it gets tricky. The Ravens have a tiebreak over the Dolphins, so if they finish tied alone at 9-7, the Ravens will make the playoffs. However, if 3 teams (Ravens, Dolphins, and Chargers) all tie, the Dolphins will make the playoffs. So actually, interestingly enough, nobody holds their own destiny. A tie between just the Ravens and Dolphins would put the Ravens through, while a three-way tie would put the Dolphins through. A four-way tie (very unlikely) would put Pittsburgh through, while San Diego would have to win outright (with no ties).

Let’s try and handicap that jumble a little. Given that the Broncos and Patriots play terrible teams, it looks like the #1 and #2 seeds are locked up. The Bengals and Colts could swap, but it seems more likely that the top 5 will remain as they are now (although the Bengals play the toughest team of the bunch in Baltimore). As for the #6 seed, it looks like the Dolphins have the upper hand, because they play an easier team than the Ravens play and because if a three way tie were to occur they would go through. I think the odds look something like this:
Dolphins- 50%
Ravens- 25%
Chargers- 20%
Steelers- 5%

NFC- #1 seed:
If the Seahawks win, they will be the #1 seed. However, if they lose and San Francisco wins, SF will win the NFC West while the Seahawks will be a 12-4 wildcard. However, if this were to happen and the Panthers were also to win, Carolina, and not San Francisco, would win the #1 seed by virtue of a three way tiebreak.

NFC- #2 seed:
This is also very simple. Unless the Seahawks lose, the Panthers can clinch the #2 with a win or a Saints loss. The Saints need a win and a Panthers loss to win the division and #2. The 49ers would be the #2 seed if the scenario above happens.

NFC- #3 seed:
If the Eagles win against the Cowboys, they will be the #3 seed, no matter what happens in the NFC North. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles, they will be the #3 seed only if the Packers beat the Bears. If the Bears and Cowboys win, the Bears will be the #3 seed.

NFC- #4 seed: If the Packers beat the Bears, they will be the #4 seed. If the Bears and Eagles win, the Bears will be the #4, but if the Bears and Cowboys win, the Cowboys will be the #4.

NFC- #5 seed: In all likelihood, this will be San Francisco’s spot. If Seattle wins, San Fran will be locked into the #5 or #6, regardless of what happens in their game, and a win against the Cardinals will clinch them the #5. However, if they lose to Arizona and the Saints beat the Buccaneers, the Saints will be the #5 while San Fran in the #6. So the 49ers are still in a must-win situation if they want to avoid the Eagles or Bears.

NFC- #6 seed: It’s a pity but it looks like the Cardinals, 10-5 right now, will miss the playoffs. Even if they beat San Francisco, they need a New Orleans loss at home against the Buccaneers to make the playoffs. A Saints win will eliminate the Cardinals.

The Seahawks are not going to lose at home to the Rams. So they will be the #1 seed. I don’t think the Panthers will lose, so I believe they will win the NFC South and lock up the #2 seed. The 3 and 4 seeds are straightforward, and it looks like the Saints and 49ers will be 5 and 6 in some order. Yes, a lot of weird things could happen, but it looks pretty easy to guess what the final seeding will be (all of this, of course, will be torn to shreds on Sunday).

Review of my Week:

It might be too little too late, but I went 12-4 straight up, going to 143-95-2
I went 9-7 against the spread, going to 104-128-8
I went 8-8 over/under, going to 120-117-3

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