NFL Week 13 Hangover


Two NFL divisions are officially over after Week 13.  Three more are unofficially over, and that leaves three other divisions and seven playoff spots in total turmoil.  Here’s a look at what’s settled and what’s still up for grabs.

AFC – Settled

AFC South Champions – Indianapolis Colts (12-0)

AFC – Up For Grabs

Top seed – Indianapolis leads the race for the AFC’s top seed by three games with four to play.

Byes – Indianapolis can clinch a first round bye with any Colts win and any loss by San Diego or Cincinnati.  The Chargers and Bengals are tied for the second bye (9-3), and the Chargers hold the tie-breaker based on record against AFC opponents, but the two square off in San Diego in Week 15.

Playoff Home Field – Indianapolis can clinch home field throughout the playoffs with any win and any loss by both San Diego and Cincinnati.

AFC North Champions – Cincinnati (9-3) swept the season series against Pittsburgh (6-6) and Baltimore (6-6) and will clinch the division with any Bengals win or any loss by both the Steelers and Ravens.

AFC West Champions – San Diego (9-3) is one game ahead of Denver (8-4) for the division crown.  The two split the season series and the Chargers have one more conference win than do the Broncos.

AFC East Champions – New England (7-5) is one game ahead of both New York and Miami (6-6) for the division crown.  The Patriots split the season series with both teams, but the Dolphins swept the Jets. 

AFC Wild Cards – The Broncos (8-4) sit in good position, one game ahead of Jacksonville (7-5), and two games ahead of the four-way log-jam at 6-6 between the Ravens, Dolphins, Jets, and Steelers (who sit in that order based on tie-breakers).

AFC –  Projections

1. Indianapolis Colts (16-0). Remaining: Denver (W), at Jacksonville (W), New York Jets (W), at Buffalo (W).

2. San Diego Chargers (12-4). Remaining: at Dallas (L), Cincinnati (W), at Tennessee (W), Washington (W)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5). Remaining: at Minnesota (L), at San Diego (L), Kansas City (W), at New York Jets (W)

4. New England Patriots (10-6). Remaining: Carolina (W), at Buffalo (W), Jacksonville (W), at Houston (L)

5. Denver Broncos (10-6). Remaining: at Indianapolis (L), Oakland (W), at Philadelphia (L), Kansas City (W)

6. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7). Remaining: Miami (W), Indianapolis (L), at New England (L), at Cleveland (W)

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7. Baltimore Ravens (9-7). Remaining: Detroit (W), Chicago (W), at Pittsburgh (L), at Oakland (W)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7). Remaining: at Cleveland (W), Green Bay (W), Baltimore (W), at Miami (L)

9. Miami Dolphins (8-8). Remaining: at Jacksonville (L), at Tennessee (L), Houston (W), Pittsburgh (W)

10. New York Jets (8-8). Remaining: at Tampa Bay (W), Atlanta (W), at Indianapolis (L), Cincinnati (L)

Jacksonville advances to the playoffs based on an 8-4 AFC record.  Baltimore will be 8-5.  Pittsburgh will be 6-6.  They will travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals, with the winner traveling to San Diego.  Denver heads to New England to play the Patriots, with the winner playing at Indianapolis.

NFC – Settled

NFC South Champions – New Orleans Saints (12-0)

NFC – Up For Grabs

Top seed – New Orleans leads the race for the NFC’s top seed by 2 games over Minnesota.

Byes – New Orleans can clinch a first round bye with a win. Minnesota (10-2) has a two game lead for the second bye over Arizona (8-4), Dallas (8-4), Philadelphia (8-4), and Green Bay (8-4).

Playoff Home Field – New Orleans can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs with any combination of 3 of their wins and Minnesota losses.
NFC North Champions – Minnesota (10-2) swept the season series against Green Bay (8-4) and can clinch the division crown with any combination of two Vikings wins and Packers losses.

NFC West Champions – Arizona (8-4) is three games ahead of San Francisco (5-7) but lost to the 49ers in Week 1.  They can clinch the division with a win over the 49ers in Week 14, otherwise they would need some combination of two Cardinal wins and 49er losses in the final three weeks.

NFC East Champions – Dallas (8-4) and Philadelphia (8-4) are tied for the division lead, but Dallas already won in Philadelphia and they meet in Dallas in Week 17. New York (7-5) is one game back, having already swept Dallas and lost in Philadelphia.  The Giants host the Eagles in Week 14.  The tie-breaker in a 3-way tie for a division is record in games among those involved, and currently the Giants are 2-1, the Cowboys are 1-2, and the Eagles are 1-1.

NFC Wild Cards – The Eagles (8-4) and Green Bay (8-4) are currently in Wild Card position, with a one game lead over the Giants (7-5), and two game lead over Atlanta (6-6).  The Eagles hold the tie-breaker with the Giants currently based on their head-to-head win, but the two face eachother in New York in Week 14.  Even with a Giants win, the Eagles would maintain their Wild Card lead over the Giants by virtue of their 7-3 NFC record vs. the Giants’ 6-3 NFC record.  The Packers can hold their spot with a Week 14 win in Chicago, but would reliquish it to the Giants should the Packers lose and Giants win (6-4 and 6-3 in the NFC, respectively).

NFC – Projections

1. New Orleans Saints (16-0). Remaining: at Atlanta (W), Dallas, (W), Tampa Bay (W), at Carolina (W)

2. Minnesota Vikings (14-2). Remaining: Cincinnati (W), at Carolina (W), at Chicago (W), New York Giants (W)

3. Arizona Cardinals (11-5). Remaining: at San Francisco (W), at Detroit (W), St. Louis (W), Green Bay (L)

4. New York Giants (10-6). Remaining: Philadelphia (W), at Washington (W), Carolina (W), at Minnesota (L)

5. Green Bay Packers (11-5). Remaining: at Chicago (W), at Pittsburgh (L), Seattle (W), at Arizona (W)

6. Dallas Cowboys (10-6). Remaining: San Diego (W), at New Orleans (L), at Washington (L), Philadelphia (W)

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7. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6). Remaining: at New York Giants (L), San Francisco (W), Denver (W), at Dallas (L)

8 Atlanta Falcons (8-8). Remaining: New Orleans (L), at New York Jets (L), Buffalo (W), at Tampa Bay (W)

New York wins the 3-way tie atop the NFC East thanks to their 3-1 record against the Eagles and Cowboys (Dallas is 2-2 against the others, and Philly is 1-3).  Dallas will play at Arizona, with the winner heading to Minnesota to play the Vikings.  Green Bay plays at the Giants with the winner playing in New Orleans against the top-seeded Saints.

Points of Note

– Potentially only the Packers-Giants game will see any bad weather among NFC playoff games. The other games will all be played in either Arizona or in a dome unless Dallas upsets Arizona and Minnesota, and the Giants or Packers upset New Orleans.

– The AFC playoffs will see similar conditions as first round games will be in New England and Cincinnati, but if the seeds hold, the rest of the games will either be in San Diego or a dome.

– Dallas has the toughest schedule among all contenders (opponents are 32-16).

– Arizona has the easiest schedule among all contenders (opponents are 16-32).