Tuesday, December 19, 2006

HIgh Hopes (part 3)

I know what you're all thinking: What happened to the Steelers' playoff chances with the NFL results this past weekend?

Well, I'm here to let you know that while still slim, their hopes are still alive. Oh...and a mistake from last week. Buffalo has the same record as the Steelers, but if they win their remaining games would beat the Steelers based on conference record. I must have missed that one, because I can't look at a team starting JP Losman at quarterback and think they have a chance at making the playoffs. Turns out their chances (while still slim) are better than those of the defending Superbowl champs.

The Good News: Pittsburgh won (easily) while Cincinnati, Jacksonville, and KC all lost.

The Bad News: Denver and the NY Jets won (although neither win was surprising against Arizona and Minnesota respectively.

The new scenario for the upcoming weekend:

  • The Steelers must win against Baltimore this weekend
  • Denver and Cincinnati play this weekend, both are 1 game ahead of the Steelers and both hold a tiebreaker against the Steelers, so unless they tie (very unlikely), the winner will beat the Steelers for a wild card spot. Which means there is only one left
  • So Jacksonville must lose against New England (in New England)
Assuming Denver and Cincinnati don't tie, the Steelers have to hope that in the next two weeks they go 2-0, the Jaguars go 0-2, Denver loses their last game, and the Jets, Bills, and Titans lose at least once.

Simple, right. Just not very likely.


Roopak Majmudar said...

As much as I want the Steelers to win, the first one is the one that's most unlikely... Especially after the last Ravens-Steelers game. :(

jeff said...

Sorry if posting this twice under seperate comments violates some sort of web blogging etiquette, I just wanted to make sure that all Steeler fans saw this. I spent 12 hours today working out every possible scenario, even calling the NFL office in New York to be sure my interpretation of the tie-breaking procedures was correct. It was. Usually I am not that much of a dork, but I had the day off and, well, when it comes to the Steelers I guess I put the FAN in FANATIC.

For fellow Steeler fans, I have GOOD news to share. Hopefully after Sunday, it will STILL be good news.

There is one important element of the tie-breaking process that no one has mentioned -- at least not anywhere I have been looking. And it COULD favor the Steelers in a huge way.

It is true that Pittsburgh would hypothetically lose tie-breakers to the Jags, Broncos, and Bengals. But if the Steelers win out, and either the Jags or Broncos finished with an identical 9-7 record, the Steelers may not have to compete with them to secure a playoff spot.

Here is how:

Before the tie-breaking process to select each wild card team begins, the NFL rules call for ELIMINATING ALL BUT THE HIGHEST-SEEDED TEAM from each division from the process.

That is VERY important to remember.

Because if Denver loses to either Cincy or SF, and KC beats Oakland and Jacksonville, both will finish 9-7 and KC would win the tie-breaker to finish ahead of the Broncos.

The implications of that would also affect the AFC South, if Tennessee can Buffalo and NE. If Tenn and Jax both finish 9-7, the Titans win THAT tie-breaker.

That would mean that neither Denver nor Jacksonville could even compete in the tie-breaking process unless the higher-seeded team in their respective divisions (KC and TN) first qualifies. As I will explain below, neither will.

In effect, Tennessee and Kansas City could effectively BLOCK Jax and Den from wild card consideration.

The same thing is true in the AFC North. If Cincinnati beats Denver, the Steelers cannot finish with a higher AFC North seed than the Bengals. Thankfully, the Bengals would quickly qualify for the first wild card spot (assuming the Jets lose a game) with a 7-5 conference record. With the Bengals out of the way, the Steelers would become the highest seeded AFC North team before the process begins to select the second wild card slot.

That door would remain closed to the Jags and Broncos, however, given that they each would still trail a team in their own division.

The Steelers would win tie-breakers against the Chiefs (45-7 thrashing), the Jets (both will have 6-6 conf. records if NY loses one of its final games, but Pitt wins based on victories against common teams. Both played the Dolphins, Raiders, Browns, and Jags. The Steelers beat the Browns twice, and the Dolphins, and lost to the Raiders and Jags, for a 3-2 record. The Jets have beaten the Dolphins once, lost to the Jags and Brown, and play their final two games against the Dolphins and Raiders. To finish 9-7, the Jets must split these games. As a result, their overall record in common games will be 2-3.

Tennessee would face the same fate. The Titans split games with the Jags, and lost to the Dolphins, Chargers, and Ravens (1-4). The Steelers (hopefully)split with the Ravens, lost to the
Chargers and Jags, and beat the Dolphins (2-3). As a result, the Steelers would advance.

If Buffalo wins out, and the Jets lose a game, the Bills would beat the Steelers in every tie-breaker, so don't root for that.

However, at the end of this very long day, I think it is still much safer to root for the Broncos to beat the Bengals this weekend. Then, they would be 8-8 after the Steelers crush the life out of them next week.

If that happens, the Steelers would make the playoffs under the following conditions:

The Jets lose to Miami or Oakland AND ONE of the following:

1. The Jags lose to NE and KC. OR
2. The Jags win one of those games and Tennessee beats both Buffalo and New England OR
3. Denver loses to San Francisco and KC beats both Oakland and Jax.

If the Jets beat both Miami and Oakland, the only way the Steelers can make the playoffs is if:

1. Denver beats the Bengals and loses to San Francisco and Kansas City beats Oakland and Jacksonville.


2. Either New England also beats Jacksonville OR Tenneessee beats Buffalo and New England.

If the Jets win both games, and the Bengals beat Denver, the Steelers will be eliminated.

Also, if the Bengals beat Denver, the Steelers could not make the playoffs unless:

KC beats OAK and JAX (or JAX if DEN loses to SF)
JAX loses to both NE and KC or the Titans scenario happens
The Jets lose
The Bills lose at least once

I am rooting for the Broncos to beat the Bengals because I would rather count on the Steelers to beat the Bengals again next week than rely on the 49ers to beat Denver.

There is one scenario in which the Steelers could earn the #5 seed, which is exciting. It would happen this way:

1. Jacksonville loses to NE and KC, OR they can beat NE as long as they lose to KC and Tennessee wins out.


2. Denver beats Cincinnati, but loses to San Francisco (not out of the question) AND KC beats both Oakland and Jacksonville


3. The Jets lose to either the Dolphins or Raiders.

If that happens, the Chiefs would finish ahead of the Broncos. And TENN would either finish ahead of Jax, or Jax would be 8-8 and out of it.

That would make for a 3 or 4-way tie to determine the 5 seed among the Steelers, Jets, Chiefs, and maybe the Titans. The Chiefs would be eliminated first with a 5-7 conf. record. I explained earlier how the Steelers would finish ahead of the Titans and Jets.

The Wild Card teams would then be

#5 Steelers
#6 Jets

Go Steelers, Dolphins, Chiefs, Titans, Broncos, and Niners!

Thank God No One Knows Me
The Mental Hurricane