December 16, 2011

Updated Seahawks Playoff Scenarios for Week 15

I just wanted to post something quick about where the Seahawks stand in the NFC playoff race after Atlanta's 41-14 win over Jacksonville last night. Tons of people that have messaged me on twitter are simply DEAD WRONG about some stuff, so here's your latest dose of reality... As usual, feel free to check my reasoning against the Official NFL Tiebreaking Scenarios, and my math against the ESPN Playoff Machine.

With the win last night, the Falcons are VERY close to clinching a playoff spot, but not quite there yet. For our purposes, we should mentally concede the 5th seed to Atlanta at this point. There are playoff scenarios for the Seahawks involving ATL (outlined below), but they are among the least probable ones. Effectively the Seahawks are competing with the Bears, Lions, Cardinals and whoever doesn't win the NFC East between the Giants and Cowboys for the last NFC playoff spot.

If the Seahawks win at Chicago this Sunday, they CANNOT be eliminated this week. If they lose and Detroit wins at Oakland, Seattle IS ELIMINATED. Clear?

Here's what people seem to not be getting: There are scenarios where Dallas' head-to-head win over the Seahawks simply DOESN'T MATTER. Those scenarios are ALL multi-team tiebreakers EXCEPT a tie involving ONLY SEA-DAL-ATL. If Detroit is added to ANY variation of a SEA-DAL tie breaker, the Seahawks win the tiebreaker and get in the playoffs. Why? Well let's look at the NFL's official tiebreaking rules:

-Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
-Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

The first one would be relevant in a SEA-DAL-ATL tiebreaker. Since Seattle lost to both Dallas and Atlanta, they'd be knocked out in that scenario (IMPORTANT NOTE: ESPN playoff machine doesn't appear to take this one into account, but it's right there in the official NFL procedures- So beware). But if you add Detroit, who the Seahawks don't play this season, the relevant tiebreaker is conference record- If the Seahawks win out, they will have an 8-4 conference record and win that tiebreaker over Detroit, Dallas, Atlanta, and NYG. What does all this mean? I will bold the next bit...

If the Seahawks and Lions both finish 9-7, Seattle makes the playoffs. So the most direct (but not only) route to the postseason for the Seahawks is 3 wins + EXACTLY 2 Lions losses.

In that case, what NYG and Dallas both do over the last three weeks would be TOTALLY IRRELEVANT. Got it? Here are some of the other scenarios that would get Seattle in the playoffs if they win out (I'm not going to TOUCH 8-8 playoff scenarios for the Seahawks yet- I will worry about that in the event that we lose one).

3 SEA wins + 1 DET loss + 2 ATL losses + DAL wins NFC East + NYG loses EXACTLY twice
(Detroit would be 5 seed at 10-6, SEA/ATL/NYG all 9-7, SEA wins on conference record)

3 SEA wins + 3 DET losses + DAL wins NFC East
(Detroit would be 8-8, ATL would be in (at least 9-7), and possibility of a SEA-DAL tie would be eliminated)

3 SEA wins + 3 DET losses + DAL loses at least 2
(Detroit would be 8-8, ATL would be in (at least 9-7), and possibility of a SEA-DAL tie would be eliminated)

3 SEA wins + 3 DET losses + PHI wins NFC East
(VERY unlikely, but Seahawks get into the playoffs all alone at 9-7 here, because DET, NYG, DAL would ALL be 8-8)

Feel free to point out any "Seahawks at 9-7" playoff scenarios that I have missed.

What do you think, sirs?

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