NFL Week 14 Hangover


The Vikings joined the Colts and Saints as division champs in Week 14, but the Cardinals were unable to do so in the NFC West after they sleep-walked through their game against the 49ers on Monday night.  There were only two notable changes of position in Week 14: the Jaguars lost to Miami and fell out of an AFC Wild Card position (the Ravens took over their vacated spot thanks to holding all the tie-breakers in the 4-way tie at 7-6), and the Cowboys lost to San Diego, swapping playoff positions with Philadelphia.  Both are still in the playoffs, but the Eagles are now leading the NFC East and the Cowboys are the 2nd Wild Card.

AFC – Settled

AFC South Champions – Indianapolis Colts (13-0)

Byes – Indianapolis Colts

AFC Playoffs – San Diego Chargers (10-3)

AFC – Up For Grabs

Top seed – Indianapolis (13-0) leads the race for the AFC’s top seed and playoff homefield advantage by three games with three to play.  San Diego (10-3) is second and is the only team that could catch the Colts.

Byes – The Chargers (10-3) lead the Bengals (9-4) by one game for the second bye.  They play one another in San Diego in Week 15, which will determine who holds the tie-breaker should they finish with the same record.  The Patriots (8-5) are two games back for the final bye and are a long-shot, at best.

AFC North Champions – Cincinnati (9-4) still leads the division by 2 games even after losing in Week 14.  They will clinch the division with one more win or a Ravens’ (7-6) loss because they swept the Ravens this season and hold the tie-breaker.  The Steelers (6-7) were eliminated from contention in Week 14.

AFC West Champions – San Diego (10-3) is two games ahead of Denver (8-5), who lost to Indianapolis in Week 14. The two split the season series and the Chargers have one more conference win than do the Broncos, so they would win should the Broncos pull off a miracle and end the season tied with San Diego.

AFC East Champions – New England (8-5) held onto its one game lead over both New York and Miami (7-6) for the division crown in Week 14. The tie-breakers are complicated at this point. Miami would currently win a 3-way tie because they have the best record in games among the three (split with New England and swept New York).  New England has tie-breakers over both Miami and New York individually, and Miami has the tie-breaker over New York.

AFC Wild Cards – The Broncos (8-5) were a near lock last week for a spot, but their loss, along with wins by Baltimore, Miami, and the Jets, makes the AFC Wild Cards a mess.  Denver is one game ahead of a 4-team log-jam at 7-6 and the Ravens currently hold the tie-breakers for the final spot.  Pittsburgh (6-7) is still alive, but has to pass four teams and has a brutal remaining schedule. Baltimore has the easiest remaining schedule of those teams in contention.  The Jets have, by far, the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL.

AFC – Projections and Opponents’ Combined Records

1. Indianapolis Colts (16-0). Remaining: at Jacksonville (W), New York Jets (W), at Buffalo (W) – 19-20

2. San Diego Chargers (13-3). Remaining: Cincinnati (W), at Tennessee (W), Washington (W) – 19-20

3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5). Remaining: at San Diego (L), Kansas City (W), at New York Jets (W) – 20-19

4. New England Patriots (10-6). Remaining: at Buffalo (W), Jacksonville (W), at Houston (L) – 18-21

5. Denver Broncos (10-6). Remaining: Oakland (W), at Philadelphia (L), Kansas City (W) – 16-23

6. Miami Dolphins (9-7). Remaining: at Tennessee (L), Houston (W), Pittsburgh (W) – 18-21

– – –

7. Baltimore Ravens (9-7). Remaining: Chicago (W), at Pittsburgh (L), at Oakland (W) – 15-24

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7). Remaining: Indianapolis (L), at New England (L), at Cleveland (W) – 23-16

9. New York Jets (8-8). Remaining: Atlanta (W), at Indianapolis (L), Cincinnati (L) – 28-11

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8). Remaining: Green Bay (W), Baltimore (W), at Miami (L) – 23-16

Baltimore and Miami finish tied at 9-7, with Miami advancing to the playoffs because of a better strength of victory number (they are tied after the first 3 tie-breakers – head-to-head, conference winning percentage, record in common games).  Miami 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 (13-0)

Bye – New Orleans Saints

NFC Playoffs – Minnesota Vikings (11-2)

NFC – Up For Grabs

Top seed – New Orleans leads the race for the NFC’s top seed and playoff homefield advantage by two games over Minnesota with three games to play. No other team can take this spot.

Byes – New Orleans clinched a first round bye with their win in Week 14. Minnesota (11-2) has a two game lead for the second bye over Phildelphia (9-4) and Green Bay (9-4), but no other team could take the spot.

NFC North Champions – Minnesota (11-2) swept the season series against Green Bay (9-4) and can clinch the division crown with a win or a Packers loss.

NFC West Champions – Arizona (8-5) failed to clinch in their head-to-head matchup with San Francisco (6-7) on Monday night, and also lost to the 49ers in Week 1.  The Cardinals still hold a two game lead though and can clinch the division with a combination of two Cardinal wins and 49er losses in the final three weeks. Arizona has the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL.

NFC East Champions – Philadelphia (9-4) assumed control of the division with a win over the Giants (7-6), narrowly avoiding a three-way tie for the division lead after Dallas (8-4) lost in Week 14 as well.  Dallas beat Philadelphia head-to-head already and they face off again in Week 17.

NFC Wild Cards – Green Bay (9-4) is now nearly a lock for a Wild Card, with a two-game lead over the Giants (7-6).  Dallas (8-5) is currently in the final playoff spot, but they only have a one-game lead over New York, and were swept by the Giants in the season series. Atlanta (6-7) is still alive and has a very easy remaining schedule, but they would need a lot of help from the Giants and Cowboys to sneak in.

NFC – Projections and Opponents’ Combined Records

1. New Orleans Saints (16-0). Remaining: Dallas, (W), Tampa Bay (W), at Carolina (W) – 14-25

2. Minnesota Vikings (14-2). Remaining: at Carolina (W), at Chicago (W), New York Giants (W) – 17-22

3. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5). Remaining: San Francisco (W), Denver (W), at Dallas (L) – 22-17

4. Arizona Cardinals (10-6). Remaining: at Detroit (W), St. Louis (W), Green Bay (L) – 12-27

5. Green Bay Packers (11-5). Remaining: at Pittsburgh (L), Seattle (W), at Arizona (W) – 19-20

6. New York Giants (9-7). Remaining: at Washington (W), Carolina (W), at Minnesota (L) – 20-19

– – –

7. Dallas Cowboys (9-7). Remaining: at New Orleans (L), at Washington (L), Philadelphia (W) – 25-13

8 Atlanta Falcons (8-8). Remaining: at New York Jets (L), Buffalo (W), at Tampa Bay (W) – 13-26

New York wins the tie for the final NFC Wild Card thanks to their season sweep of the Cowboys. The Giants play at Philadelphia, with the winner heading to Minnesota to play the Vikings. Green Bay plays at the Cardinals, with the winner playing in New Orleans against the top-seeded Saints.

Points of Note

– Potentially only the Eagles-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 if the seeds hold.

– 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.

– The Giants and Eagles would meet in the opening round for the second consecutive season. Philadelphia won that game and swept the series this season.  They have a four-game winning streak against the Giants.

– Dallas has the toughest schedule among all contenders in the NFC (opponents are 25-13), while the Jets have the worst schedule in the AFC (28-11).

– The Jets play Indianapolis in Week 16 and Cincinnati in Week 17.  Both of those teams’ seedings may be set by that time, so the Jets may wind up with one of the easiest schedules.  The Giants schedule could get a lot easier if Minnesota sits their starters in Week 17 as well, which is likely given that their seeding may be determined by then.

– The Eagles’ tough schedule gets even tougher when you consider that San Francisco, Denver, and Dallas will all still be fighting for a playoff spot when they face Philly.

– Denver’s schedule is easy on paper, but with two games against division rivals Oakland and Kansas City, nothing is certain.  They should win that one and perhaps lose at Philadelphia, but it isn’t too far of a stretch to see them losing all three and missing the playoffs entirely.

– Arizona has the easiest schedule in the NFC (opponents are 12-27). Baltimore has the easiest in the AFC (15-24).

– Dallas has two tough games remaining (at New Orleans and home against Philadelphia), but their third game is in Washington.  This is an easy win on paper, but they are bitter rivals and Washington held the Cowboys scoreless for over 58 minutes before surrendering a touchdown and losing 7-6 last month in Dallas.