It’s the final week of the 2016 NFL regular season which means we have tiebreakers, playoff scenarios and common opponents records to discuss. Only three of the 12 playoff seeds are currently locked in. Everything else is up for grabs and a total of 14 teams could make the playoffs on Sunday.
Thanks to Pittsburgh and Kansas City last wee this final week is a lot less confusing than it usually is. We still have two first round byes, one home field advantage spot, one wildcard seed and two divisions up for grabs, but only 8 of the 16 games on Sunday have playoff implications.
I’m going to breakdown all 14 teams that are either in the playoffs or still have a shot and tell you where they are locked in or what playoff seeds they could end up with this weekend. Also because a lot of people have been asking I will tell you which teams Eagles fans should be rooting for to help that first round pick they will be receiving from the Minnesota Vikings.
Eagles Draft Pick Watch
The Philadelphia Eagles receive the Minnesota Vikings first round pick next April, which right now could be anywhere from 9th to 19th overall depending on what happens this week. The Vikings are 7-8 and play the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The tiebreaker when it comes to first round draft picks when teams finish with the same record is strength of schedule, most specifically the team with the lower opponents winning percentage get the better first round pick.
So for Eagles fans these are the following teams you need to root for on Sunday: Cardinals. Panthers, Eagles, Bills, Saints, Colts and of course the Bears who play the Vikings. If all those teams win on Sunday the Eagles are guaranteed at worst the 10th overall pick and have a chance to beat the Panthers in a tiebrekaer depending on what happens, although the Panthers opponents winning percentage is a little bit lower(Panthers is .513 and Vikings is .516).
Now let’s say the Vikings win on Sunday. They finish at 8-8. In that case you better hope that the Broncos, Bucs, Ravens and Titans all win. They are all 8-7. Based on opponents winning percentages right now the Vikings would lose tiebreakers and get the lower pick except for Denver with all those teams.
If the Vikings lose, realistically the Eagles are probably looking at like the 11th or 12th overall pick and if they win it will be closer to 17th. There is a chance to go higher or lower in those scenarios, but that gives you an idea where the pick will be with a win or loss.
Okay on to the playoff scenarios.
Playoff Scenarios, team by team
Patriots- New England is getting the 1st or 2nd seed in the AFC. They are at Miami on Sunday. If they win, they get the top seed and home field advantage. Even if they lose, the only way they don’t get the top seed is if Oakland beats Denver.
Dolphins- Miami is in the playoffs already. They can jump up to the 5 seed(and play a really bad Houston team in the first round) if they win and Kansas City loses. If they lose or the Chiefs win, Miami gets the 6 seed and would play at Pittsburgh.
Steeelers- Locked in to the 3 seed, will host Miami or Kansas City.
Texans- Locked in to the 4 seed, will host Miami, Kansas City or Oakland.
Raiders- The Raiders win the AFC West with a win at Denver. With a win and New England loss they get the top seed and home field advantage. If they lose, they can still win the AFC West if Kansas City loses at San Diego. If Oakland loses and KC wins, the Raiders get the 5 seed and plays at Houston in round one.
Chiefs- KC wins the AFC West with a win at San Diego and a Oakland loss at Denver. They can fall to the 6 seed if Miami wins and the Chiefs lose. If Oakland wins they get the 5 seed if they win. They need to win on Sunday. That guarantees they either get a first round bye or an easier match-up against Houston. Dropping to the 6 seed means they play at Pittsburgh, a team that obliterated them earlier in the season.
Cowboys- They have already clinched the top seed in the NFC.
Giants- They are locked in to the 5 seed and will play either Seattle, Atlanta, Detroit or Green Bay. If Seattle loses they will play at Seattle. If Seattle wins it gets more complicated. In that case it matters on what Atlanta does and who wins the NFC North. Here is a complicated formula that will make more sense on Sunday(all based on if Seattle wins): ATL W+ DET W= Giants play Lions. ATL W+ GB W= Giants play Packers. ATL L +DET W= Giants play Falcons. ATL L + GB W= Giants play Packers.
So with 5 possible scenarios the Giants are 40% likely to play the Packers, 20% each to play Seahawks, Falcons and Lions.
Washington- Because 9-6 Green Bay plays 9-6 Detroit a Washington win means they are in at 0-6-1. If they lose tey are out.
Packers/Lions- The winner of this game wins the NFC North. The loser still gets a wildcard spot if Washington loses. If Washington wins(GB/DET is at night so they will know heading into the game) then the loser of this game is out.
In terms of seeding, Seattle and/or Atlanta winning puts those teams over the Packers/Lions winner. If Seattle loses then this game winner passes Seattle, no tiebreaker needed because of Seattle’s tie earlier in the season.
If Atlanta loses, they finish at 10-6. The Lions can win a tiebreaker over Atlanta because of record vs common opponents, but the Falcons have already beaten the Packers so Green Bay would not win that tiebreaker.
Falcons- Atlanta has clinched the NFC South already. If they win they get a first round bye. If they lose they can still get a first round bye only if Seattle loses and Green Bay beats Detroit.
Buccaneers- Tampa Bay can still make the playoffs but only if they win, and the following all happens: Lions win, 49ers win, Cowboys win, Titans win, Colts win and the Giants/Washington game ends in a tie. Yeah, good luck with that one.
Seahawks- Seattle has clinched the NFC West. They get a bye with a win and a Falcons loss. If the Falcons win they can still get the 3 seed with a win. If they lose they get the 4 seed and will host the Giants in the first round.