In an always interesting statistical kind of way, the people at FiveThirtyEight have calculated which games in Week 14 will produce the most wide-ranging impact on playoff seeding in the NFL.
1. Denver (8-4) vs. Tennessee (6-6) — 119 total ‘swing’ points
The Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos all won last week, and we now think it’s pretty likely that the West will take both AFC wild card slots. Tennessee has had a commendable bounceback season, but they’re in a tough playoff situation. The AFC West’s success means that even if the Titans run the table to end the season at 10-6, that might not be enough to make it as a wild card, and their 0-3 record against the Texans and Colts makes it unlikely that they’d win a division tiebreaker. We give them just an 11 percent chance of making the playoffs, much lower than the chances of Green Bay, Minnesota, Indianapolis and Houston, who all share the same 6-6 record.
If you look at the chart they provided, you can see how badly the Broncos must win this game to keep their playoff chances healthy. Just about every team on that list needs a Broncos loss to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Of the other big games FiveThirtyEight mentioned, the one that shocked me the most was the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots matchup. The Broncos playoff chances actually improve slightly if the Patriots win, but degrade if the Ravens win. My heart says, “I don’t care, beat the Patriots!”