Handicap the NFL Wild Card Race

Week 10 is over and for many teams it’s a race for the two wild card positions in each conference.

AFC
New England will win their division as will Houston and Denver. Baltimore should beat out Pittsburgh since Roethlisberger will be out for their two head-to-head games. Tha makes the favorites for the AFC wild cards Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, both with 6 wins.

With their QB out, will the Steelers drop out of the WC race? If so, what 4 win team: Miami, Cincinnati, San Diego or Tennessee would overtake them? My guess? Cincinnati gets at least 4 more wins. In fact they could run the next 5 then maybe a 6th if Baltimore takes the last week off. Miami wins 3 more games but they lost the head-to-head tiebreak to Tennessee. Unlike Miami that will only get 3 more wins, Tennessee will get at least 3 more wins but I don’t see it coming down to a tiebreak between Cin and Tenn. San Diego has 3 guarantied wins and maybe 5. The key game in the wild card may be 2 December between Cincinnati and SD with the winner getting a game on the other and the tiebreak. I predict the winner of this game will win the wild card and I think that given SD’s tradition of losing important games …

AFC Wild Cards: Indianapolis and Cincinnati

NFC
The Giants, San Francisco and Atlanta are clear division winners and I think Chicago will take the North. This means there are three teams with 6 wins, one with 5 wins and three with 4 wins going for the two WC spots. I wouldn’t count on Dallas leapfrogging three teams being two games down. Arizona has just collapsed after starting 4-0 and New Orleans is simply not going to win enough games to make up a 2 game deficit.

TB will win 3 or 4 games but they are at a one game deficit already. Out of the four 6 win teams, Green Bay has one less loss than the others but their schedule is pretty hard just like Minnesota’s. Seattle has three games in the bag and maybe a fourth against the Rams to end the season. In shortthis one will go down to the wire. The big difference is Minnesota has 2 games against Chicago and 2 against GB. A split in those, a win over St Louis and loss against Houston will have them 9-7. Green Bay has two games against Detroit and at some point, that one less loss will save them

NFC Wild Cards: Green Bay and Seattle.

The Indianapolis defense continues to lose starters - I don’t see them playing through the entire season like this, something has to give. They could very easily go 2-5 the rest of the way (with wins against KC and either Tennessee or Buffalo). Wow - they have to play Houston in Weeks 15 and 17 - can’t remember having seen something like that before!

But even if Indy goes 2-5 will Pitt do much better with their QB out and can two 4-5 teams win 4 or more games? Also, will Houston’s last game be an off day if they do not have anything to play for?

Clearly you haven’t been watching San Diego play :).

I think the Steelers and Colts have to be heavy favourites. It seems like 9-7 will be enough, and they both have schedules that seem to give them three more wins without too much trouble. Indy’s last game against Houston has a good chance of being meaningless for the Texans.

I hope so, but the Giants remaining games are:
vs. Packers
@ Redskins
vs. Saints
@ Falcons
@ Ravens
vs. Eagles

They probably need to split those six games, and after seeing their non-effort in person on Sunday, I think 1-5 is just as likely. I know they are fully capable of waking up and running the table again, but they don’t do it every year. Maybe two wins would do it, but it’s pretty sad if after 10 games, we are looking at an 8-8 team as a “clear division winner”.

Not that the Packers are terribly healthy, either, but if Cutler misses any substantial time with his concussion, is that a prediction you’ll want to stand by?

Doesn’t that improve their chances?

As much as I’d like to see it happen, what are the real odds Seattle makes it to the wild card?

Did you see the wreck that used to be Jason Campbell on Sunday?

They have the tie break against Minnesota which helps.

And Green Bay, should it come to that. I also think the toughest part of their schedule is behind them; they have road games at Miami and Buffalo (and Chicago) and all three division teams at home. 10-and-6 seems like it’s still achievable.

Exactly. Cutler looks good sometimes, horrible sometimes. Campbell might still have some good left in the tank somewhere, but I’m skeptical.

Speaking as a Giants’ fan… who SAYS they’re clear division winners? They’ve looked awful the past few weeks and are only one game up on the Cowboys.

As usual, I could easily see the Giants going 11-5 and winning the Super Bowl.But I could just as easily picture them going 8-8 and missing the playoifs entirely.

Man, going through the AFC schedule, it looks pretty set.

New England
Houston
Baltimore or Pittsburgh
Denver or San Diego

Leaving the following for the wild card:

Buffalo
Miami
New York Jets
Baltimore or Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Indianapolis
Tennessee
Jacksonville
Denver or San Diego
Oakland
Kansas City

I think we can easily eliminate the following:
Kansas City
Oakland
Jacksonville
Cleveland
New York Jets

The remaining, in increasing likelihood in making it, and assuming it’ll take 9 wins to make the wild card:
Miami: Just a brutal remaining schedule, and need to win 5 of their remaining 6 (which include both New England twice and San Francisco). Not going to happen.
Buffalo: Next week against the Colts seems to be crucial to get to 9 wins, as only Seattle will pose difficult in their remaining 6 games. A loss will likely lock them out.
Tennessee: Need 5 of 6, and have Houston, Indy, and Green Bay on the horizon. They can get 2 of those, but it’ll be a fight.
Denver or San Diego: Assuming San Diego here. Need 5 of 7, and have Denver, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Seems *real *tough at the moment.
Indianapolis: Total crapshoot at this point. Seems like they just need 3 wins - but that seems a tough row to how. They can beat the Chefs, might steal a game from Houston while they rest their starters (IF they rest their starters), and both Tennessee and Buffalo look vulnerable. I think we get a good idea of how they can match up against a great team when they face New England on Sunday.
Cincinnati: Really a pretty decent shot at 5 wins here in their remaining 7, and will likely come down to the Dallas and Philly games to see what they need to do.
Baltimore or Pittsburgh: Let’s assume Pittsburgh here, just for the sake of having the harder road. 5 of 7 games against divisional rivals, in a division that just never stops fighting. They just need 3 wins - seems pretty likely.

NFC:
With 4 weeks left it look like it’s either the Bears or the Packers (whoever doesn’t win the division). Packers look like they’ll have all of the tiebreakers their way but what if Chicago wins on the 16th? Theyr in Chicago so I’ll give the Bears the edge. I think they’ll take the division if that happens. Seattle has the tie breaks against NFC North teams and against Tampa Bay with a better conference record.

(Still) Seattle and Green Bay

AFC
Still have Indy going to the playoffs at 10-6. The Steelers suprised me today and they have 3 winnable games out of the next 4 while the Bengals have 2. Begals are behind in every tiebreak so I think Pittsburgh may pull this one out.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh

Damn it, why did I have to be right???

2 weeks to go

AFC with the AFC North still to be decided
Colts
Bengals
Steelers
Dolphins

The first question is can the Bengals or Steelers with the AFC North? I’m going to go completely by feel here. Cincinnati plays Pittsburgh next week and Baltimore the last week. Since they control their own destiny I predict 2 wins for the Bengals giving then the AFC North. This means that the Bengals will face either the Colts or the Ravens in Round 1. If the Colts, I’m locking in the win right now. If the Bengals, the question is can they beat the same team 3 times in a season.

Colts and Ravens with the Bengals winning the AFC North
Change from first post: None really except Cincinnati as division winner and Baltimore as wild card.
NFC with both the NFC East and North to be decided
Redskins
Seahawks
Vikings
Bears
Cowboys
Giants
Rams
Saints

First of all, the Rams and Saints are on the list for mathematical reasons that if they win out and everyone else loses they’re in. The only team I’m confident in are the Seahawks. The Bears are playing the Cardinals and Lions in their last two games but I don’t know that that is 2 guarantied wins for the Monsters of the Midway but the Vikings are playing Houston and the Packers so I think we can safely say they are out.
So if the Bears are getting the 2nd wild card, then the NFC East representative has to win the division. Washington will beat the Eagles and beat the Cowboys earlier and are ahead in division and conference tiebreakers so Dallas has to win their last 2 to get in and they are not that consistent. The Giants have to win their last games, hope that Dallas loses this week and beats Washington in the finale. Not impossible but unlikely. This one may come down to that last game.

Seattle & Chicago with Washington taking the East
Change from first post: Bears and Packers switch as division winner/wild card. Only big change is Giants out and Redskins in.

I don’t understand what you are saying here. The Bengals lost badly to the Ravens in Week 1, so they wouldn’t be trying to beat the Ravens 3x this season.

The Redskins clinch a playoff spot this week if they win and the Giants, Vikings, and Bears all lose.

The Giants clinch a playoff spot this week if they win and the Cowboys, Redskins, Vikings, and Bears all lose.

The Giants are eliminated if they lose, the Redskins and Cowboys win, and the Seahawks win or tie.

Of those three, the Giants being eliminated is the most likely, but I’m pretty sure the Skins and Boys win their games and Seattle will lose, but you never know. The Bears will beat the Cards so the Skins can’t clinch. This race is going to be decided week 17.

NFC North has already been decided; the Packers clinched it with their victory over the Bears on Sunday. They now have a 2-game lead over the Bears and Vikings.

The Pack has swept the Bears in head-to-head meetings, so they would automatically take the division in a tie with the Bears. While the Vikings could still finish at 10-6 and tie the Packers for the division (if the Packers lose out, which would include losing at Minnesota in Week 17, meaning the two teams would have split their head-to-head games), the Packers would still win the division with a better in-division record (GB would be 5-1, Minnesota would be 4-2).