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AFC Playoff Picture Slowly Clearing; Tie-Breaking Procedures

Update [12-18-2006 by TheSportsGuru]:The post has been updated as a result of Monday Night's Indy Win...

This week's action did go a long way to determining who's in and who's out, though in the same breath it got more convoluted as well.  Two more teams clinched division titles, thus punching their ticket in.  Seedings are still up in the air.  This must be what the NFL means when they say parody!

Here's a team by team breakdown --

1. San Diego(12-2(10-2), @SEA, ARI) -- The Chargers won their 8th straight, and control their own destiny when it comes to the top seed and homefield advantage.  Should Indy lose tonite to the Bengals the Chargers lock it up.  Marty Schottenheimer has to walk that fine line of keeping his team sharp while making sure L.T. is rested and ready to go for the post-season.

2. Baltimore(11-3(8-2), @PIT, BUF) -- Baltimore also took care of business, dispathing of the Browns thus clinching a divisional title of their own.  The Ravens are also in play for the #1 seed, but will need some help.  Both Indy and Baltimore needs to keep winning to get that #2 seed at worst.

3. Indianapolis(11-3(8-2), @HOU, MIA) -- Colts have a huge game tonite with Cincy but thanks to the Titans take the field knowing they have another AFC South title.  As bad as the Colts' defense has played they still have a shot a the #1 seed should the Chargers stumble.

4. New England(10-4(6-4), @JAC, @TEN) -- The Pats rebounded nicely, though it was only the Texans.  Which Patriot team shows up the next two weeks will determine when the Pats end up with the Jets still mathematically alive for a division title.  It won't be easy for Tom Brady and Co. with trips to Jacksonville and Tennessee to finish ouot the season.  There is a chance the Pats could miss the playoffs entirely.

The AFC now includes 3 teams with guarunteed slots in the playoffs.  That leaves 3 spots left, with 9 teams still alive, at least somehow.  I am going to focus on the 6 remaining teams with the best chance to sneak in, including their conference record which is a major factor this time of year.

    5.  Denver(8-6(7-4), CIN, SF) -- The Broncos had to have it yesterday in Arizona and they got it, but they cannot afford to let up now.  The Broncos have the best opportunity to get in becuase of their steller conference record.  Beat the Bengals on Sunday and the Broncos could be playing for a #5 seed against the 49'ers the last week of the season.  It's as simple as this, good teams with their December home games.  Mike Shanahan teams have historically been money at home in December.  It's put up or shut up time for the Broncos.

    6.  Cincinnati(8-6(6-4), @DEN, PIT) -- As I expected the Bengals came out and laid an egg on national TV. With the loss the Bengals fall into a 4-way tie at 8-6, but with all the tie-breaksers sit at #6, still in the playoffs. This all leads up to the showdown in Denver next week.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN --

    7.  Jacksonville(8-6(5-5), NE, @KC) -- The Jags were the darlings of the NFL after whooping up on the Colts last weekend.  Then returned to earth in Tennessee, alowing 98 yards, but 3 defensive TD's in a loss to the Titans.  A winning record against teams above .500, a losing record against teams under .500, Jacksonville is the true Sybil of the NFL.  Next up is a huge home game against the Pats, who have shown in the past they know how to win in December.  Jacksonville will be playing for their post-season lives.

    8.  NY Jets(8-6(5-5), @MIA, OAK) -- The Jets may have the best shot at reaching the playoffs, based on their remaining schedule at least.  Eric Mangini has done an outstanding job taking this team, with the talent on hand, and making them a dangerous team that will take the Pats to the very end.  The AFC East isn;t out of the question for New York, and if they can get out of Miami alive next week things are looking great for the Jets.

   9.  Buffalo(7-7(5-5), TEN, @BAL) -- The Bills have been a thorn in the side of several playoff minded teams and the maturation process of J.P. Losman is nearly complete.  Buffalo probably won't get there, but football fans in Western New York have to feel great heading into the off-season.  Wins against the Jags and Jets, plus a shutout over the Dolphins have Buffalo in good shape for 2007.

  10.  Pittsburgh(7-7(4-6), BAL, @CIN) -- The Steelers are playing some of the best ball in the league, but unlike last year it won't be enough to get them into the playoffs.  Needing the Jets and Broncos to lose neither did and the Steelers are on the brink of elimination.  Two rivalry games, and a possible chance to keep the hated Bengals out of the playoffs will have the Steelers playing hard until the end.

11.  Tennessee(7-7(4-6), @BUF, NE -- If Jeff Fisher were ever available he could probably have any job in the league he wanted, period. After a 2-5 start the Titans have won 5 straight against teams like the Colts, Jags, Giants and the Eagles. The Titans probably won;t get in either, but the fact that I am even mentioning them on this list in a tough AFC says enough for the job Fisher and Vince Young have done.

12.  Kansas City(7-7(3-7), @OAK, JAC) -- Put a fork in the Chiefs, who have no shot with a 3-7 conference record.  I will be rooting for them against the Jags in week 17, however.

Below are the Wildcard Team Tie-Breaking Procedures, for those interested --

TO BREAK A TIE FOR THE WILD-CARD TEAM
If it is necessary to break ties to determine the two Wild-Card clubs from each conference, the following steps will be taken.

  1. If the tied clubs are from the same division, apply division tie breaker.
  2. If the tied clubs are from different divisions, apply the following steps.
Two Clubs
  1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  4. Strength of victory.
  5. Strength of schedule.
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best net points in conference games.
  9. Best net points in all games.
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  11. Coin toss.
Three or More Clubs
(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of applicable two-club format.)
  1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the three Wild-Card participants.
  2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in conference games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss.
When the first Wild-Card team has been identified, the procedure is repeated to name the second Wild-Card, i.e., eliminate all but the highest-ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2, and repeated a third time, if necessary, to identify the third Wild Card. In situations where three or more teams from the same division are involved in the procedure, the original seeding of the teams remains the same for subsequent applications of the tie breaker if the top-ranked team in that division qualifies for a Wild-Card berth