I don't follow football. I check the scores on Sunday, usually around 3:55 PM, just to see who is winning. I root in a general manner for the Pennsylvania teams. Might get a little more interested around playoff time but really I couldn't care too much.
I AM excited about the potential of eight AFC teams finishing with an 8-8 record and the tiebreaker procedure to determine who makes the playoffs.
You currently have the Broncos and Ravens at 8-6, the Jets, Dolphins, Steelers, Jaguars and Texans at 7-7 and the Titans at 7-8. Here's how it has to go down:
1. The Broncos and Ravens must lose their next two and the Titans win their last one to finish 8-8.
2. The Ravens would lose to Pittsburgh tomorrow which means Pittsburgh would then have to lose their last game to finish 8-8.
3. That last game Pittsburgh would have to lose would be at the hands of the Dolphins. Therefore, that means the Dolphins must beat the Texans tomorrow.
4. The Texans loss tomorrow would require them to beat the Patriots the final week of the season.
There are six of the eight teams with the needed outcomes being very clear. The Jets and the Jaguars would have to split their final two games to each finish 8-8.
The NFL playoff rules require multi-team Wild Card scenarios to be determined by first determining which of the teams would be the top in their division using the division tie-breaking procedures.
The Dolphins would be ranked the top team in the East by virtue of defeating the Jets both times they met.
The Ravens would get the edge over the Steelers in the North. The Steelers victory would give them a split with the Ravens but the Ravens would end the season with a 3-3 division record compared to the Steelers 2-4.
The South gets tricky. The Titans, Jaguars and Texans would be ranked first according to their record among themselves. The Jaguars beat Houston twice and split with Tennessee. Tennessee also split with Houston. The Jaguars 3-1 record makes them the South representative.
The Broncos would be the sole 8-8 team from the West.
So we're down to the Dolphins, Ravens, Jaguars and Broncos for the two Wild Card spots. No team beat the other three so it goes to conference record. Dolphins would be 6-6. Ravens would be 6-6. Jaguars would be 7-5 and the Broncos would be 6-6. Therefore, the Jaguars become the 5th seed in the playoffs.
Things get even wackier now. The tie-breaker goes to record against common opponents with a minimum of four games. All three remaining teams played the Colts, Chargers, Patriots and Steelers in a total of five games. The Dolphins only mustered one victory, beating the Patriots. The Ravens and Broncos would each end 2-3 against those opponents. So the Dolphins are out.
Since the Broncos defeated the Ravens on November 1, the Broncos would then get the nod based on head-to-head record giving them the final seed in the AFC.
Looking at the 8-8 scenario makes things a lot clearer overall. For instance, the Steelers have to win both of their games and have the Ravens lose both or else the Ravens will get the nod on conference record. Likewise, based on the season sweep, the Jets need to win more games than the Dolphins over the last two. The Titans can only make the playoffs if the Jaguars AND the Texans get swept AND they win.
Although it would mean the Steelers would be out, it would be an awful lot of fun to see so many team finish at .500 and two of them make the playoffs.
Update:Decided to take a look and see what the Steelers chances are if they do finish 9-7. In their own division, I already mentioned that the Ravens have to lose both of their games for the Steelers to be in. Even if the Bengals lost their last two to also finish 9-7, the fact that they were undefeated in the division would give them the division title and force the Steelers into the Wild Card pool.
Since the Steelers would need two wins, their victory over the Dolphins would prevent Miami from finishing 9-7. The other teams that could end up 9-7 are the Patriots, Jets, Jaguars, Texans and Broncos. The Patriots and Jets split their matchup but the Patriots have the better division record meaning the Jets would be the Wild Card contender and the Pats would have the division title.
I'm not going to go through all the rigamarole but things are pretty bleak for the Steelers even if they do win their last two and the Ravens lose both. If the Steelers and one other team, even Baltimore, finish 9-7, Pittsburgh is in good shape. They would be the fifth seed, even, if Denver is the only other 9-7 team. In a multi-team setting, though, Pittsburgh loses out in all the scenarios and so does not make the playoffs if two or more of those other four teams (or Baltimore) finish 9-7. Bad news, indeed.