Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

NFL Week 14 in Review: Playoff Edition

This past week did end up shaking things up a bit, as many teams who needed to win didn't. The top seeds are just about clinched (Indy and Seattle) and the last spots are down to who loses first.

AFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
New England: 8-5 (vs Tampa Bay, at NY Jets, vs Miami)
Cincinnati: 10-3 (at Detroit, vs Buffalo, at Kansas City)
Indianapolis: 13-0 (home field advantage... vs San Diego, at Seattle, vs Arizona)
Denver: 10-3 (first round bye... at Buffalo, vs Oakland, at San Diego)
Note: Denver has a 7-2 conference record compared to Cincy's 7-3, so Denver still has the bye.

Wild Card:
Jacksonville: 9-4 (vs San Francisco, at Houston, vs Tennessee)
Pittsburgh: 8-5 (at Minnesota, at Cleveland, vs Detroit)

First Round Games:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, winner at Denver
Jacksonville at New England, winner at Indianapolis

Still Alive:
San Diego: 8-5 (at Indianapolis, at Kansas City, vs Denver)
Kansas City: 8-5 (at NY Giants, vs San Diego, vs Cincinnati)

Pittsburgh jumped over San Diego for the last playoff spot after beating Chicago impressively at home and the Chargers choke job against Miami. This means that the Steelers have essentially clinched the final spot. In fact, the chance of those top six seeds changing is now remote, especially when you look at the closing schedules for San Diego and Kansas City. Week 15 is elimination week. San Diego at Indianapolis. Kansas City at NY Giants. Pitt at Minnesota. Three huge games. If Pitt loses, San Diego and KC live to fight another day if they in turn lose, but at that point will have to pray that the Steelers choke one away against either Cleveland or Detroit, which I don't see as likely. Worst case then for Pittsburgh is 10-6 with the tiebreaker of San Diego. That means the Chargers need to beat the Colts this week, eliminate the Chiefs next week, and beat Denver the last week to make the postseason. Riiiiiiight. Same goes for Kansas City. It would be a miracle for either team to make it. The division leaders all have at least two game leads with three games left. So we're pretty much left down to two possible changes. Either Denver and Cincy flip seeds or Pittsburgh chokes. Not much suspense either way. It does set up a nice second round matchup of the Patriots at Indianapolis. I'd sure like to see that one.

NFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
NY Giants: 9-4 (vs Kansas City, at Washington, at Oakland)
Chicago: 9-4 (first round bye... vs Atlanta, at Green Bay, at Minnesota)
Tampa Bay: 9-4 (at New England, vs Atlanta, vs New Orleans)
Seattle: 11-2 (home field advantage... at Tennessee, vs Indy, at Green Bay)

Wild Card:
Carolina: 9-4 (at New Orleans, vs Dallas, at Atlanta)
Dallas: 8-5 (at Washington, at Carolina, vs St Louis)

First Round Games:
Carolina at Tampa Bay, winner at Chicago
Dallas at NY Giants, winner at Seattle

Still Alive:
Atlanta: 8-5 (at Chicago, at Tampa Bay, vs Carolina)
Minnesota: 8-5 (vs Pittsburgh, at Baltimore, vs Chicago)

This is a much more fun playoff picture, and not only because it is headlined by a certain local team. There are question marks everywhere, as seeds 2-8 are within one game of each other. The best news is easy. Seattle has a two game lead for home field advantage through the playoffs.

Quick Note: To all those pessimists who are starting to look at win-loss percentages of #1 seeds, please shut up. I was listening to the radio today and the host was upset that more #1 seeds didn't make the Super Bowl. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that you have to win games to make the Super Bowl. At the very least it is nice to play that game at home. That is no guarantee for success. So again... shut up.

Moving back to the picture, interesting scenarios abound. No one has come close to wrapping up their division. Chicago seemed like the easiest lock until their loss last week. Now they have a huge game against Atlanta this week (which could eliminate the Falcons, whose conference record is bad enough anyways). They could easily fall from the second seed to the wayside, given Minnesota's rise. Regardless, there are several fantastic games on the slate this week. NY Giants-Kansas City is an elimination game for the Chiefs, so the Giants better be prepared. I mentioned Chicago-Atlanta, which is going to pit two desperate teams against one another. I'm excited to see Chicago's terrific defense try to stop even a hobbled Michael Vick. Tampa Bay at New England is a statement game for both teams. Tampa wants to prove to all naysayers who they are, and New England wants to prove they can beat real teams not in the AFC East. Carolina and Seattle have the easy games, although Carolina's definitely proven that no game is an easy game for them. Dallas-Washington is a grudge match that actually means something this year. Finally, Minnesota-Pittsburgh is the Vikings' first test in a while. By my count, that's five great games in one week. Of couse, none of them are on Monday night. Green Bay and Baltimore play of Monday night. Stupid ABC. Let the jumble continue!

Oh, and if Chicago loses and we win we clinch. Also worth considering is the fact that we only have one conference game left. That means if we lose our next two games we still will have a tiebreaker over the Bears. All signs point to the Hawks. It's good to be king.

posted by Gavin @ 2:07 PM  0 comments

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