Several of our favorite Michigan Men make the Pro Bowl... Brady, Woodson, and Long are all starters...
So, as we head into the final week of the 2011 NFL regular season, there are a few spots up for grabs in both the NFC and AFC. This weekend should prove to be a dramatic one. Here's how things look right now:
- Green Bay, 14-1 (clinched home field advantage and first-round bye)
- San Francisco, 12-3 (clinched division; can clinch first-round bye with win over St. Louis)
- New Orleans, 12-3 (clinched division; can clinch first-round bye with win over Carolina and San Francisco loss)
- NY Giants/Dallas, 8-7 (winner clinches NFC East, loser is eliminated)
- Detroit, 10-5 (clinched Wild Card; secures 5th seed with win over Green Bay)
- Atlanta, 9-6 (clinched Wild Card; can move up to 5th seed with win over Carolina and Detroit loss)
Green Bay will probably beat Detroit this Sunday at home, unless they rest their starters. Green Bay really has nothing to play for at this point, other than pride, and it's not an uncommon thing to do. I think Rodgers and starters play at least through halftime, though, and the Packers finish the season at 15-1.
San Francisco will probably beat St. Louis to lock up the 2nd seed. Doing so makes New Orleans' game meaningless. New Orleans' game only means anything if they win and San Francisco loses.
The NY/Dallas game is a tossup, in my opinion. That should be a fun game to watch, even though I'm not a fan of either team.
If Detroit loses to Green Bay, it opens the door for Atlanta to move into the 5th seed, since Atlanta beat Detroit in Week 7. Atlanta has a favorable matchup this week against
Carolina [Ed: Tampa Bay. Thanks, my mistake. Still a favorable matchup, as pointed out in the comments], so it looks like they have a decent shot of moving up.
This is exciting to me because, even though we already know most of the teams that will be in the NFC playoffs, each team (except Green Bay) has something to play for this week. The difference between the 5th and 6th seed is the difference between playing a mediocre Dallas/NY team and Drew Brees. I would not want to have to face Brees in the first round at all.
- New England, 12-3 (clinched division and first-round bye; can clinch home-field advantage with win over Buffalo)
- Baltimore/Pittsburgh, 11-4 (see below)
- Houston, 10-5 (clinched division; their game against Tennessee means nothing for them. They are locked into the 3rd seed regardless of the outcome of this game)
- Denver/Oakland, 8-7 (see below)
- Baltimore/Pittsburgh (see below)
- Cincinnati/Tennessee/Oakland/NY Jets (see below)
New England is guaranteed to finish no lower than the 2nd seed in the AFC. A win over Buffalo would lock them in to the #1 seed. A loss opens up the door to either Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
Baltimore has a wide range of possibilites right now: they could finish as high as the #1 overall seed and as low as the #5 seed. A win over Cincinnati on the road guarantees that they finish no lower than the #2 seed. If Baltimore wins and New England loses, Baltimore would clinch the #1 overall seed; however, if Baltimore loses and Pittsburgh wins, Baltimore would fall below Pittsburgh and be stuck with the #5 seed.
Pittsburgh could also finish as high as #1 and as low as #5. If Pittsburgh wins on the road against Cleveland and Baltimore and New England lose, Pittsburgh would clinch the #1 overall seed. If Pittsburgh wins and Baltimore loses, Pittsburgh would clinch the #2 seed. If Baltimore wins or Pittsburgh loses, Pittsburgh would be stuck with the #5 seed.
Houston has no incentive to win their game against Tennessee, unless they want to ruin Tennessee's playoff hopes. Houston has locked up the #3 seed and will host the #6 seed in the first round of the playoffs, no matter what.
Denver's playoff hopes are in their (or dare I say Tebow's) hands. If they beat Kansas City at home, they win the AFC West. If they lose and Oakland wins, then Denver is eliminated from contention. There is absolutely no way they can win the Wild Card, it's AFC West. or bust for them.
Oakland can clinch either the 4th or
5th [Ed: 6th. Thanks, my mistake] seed. They must win to have any chance at all though. It is impossible for them to make the playoffs if they lose at home to San Diego. If Oakland wins, they would clinch the AFC West with a Denver loss. If both Oakland and Denver win, and Cinncinati loses, then Oakland would clinch the Wild Card.
Tennessee can clinch the Wild Card if they beat Houston on the road, and Cincinnati and Oakland lose.
The Jets can clinch the Wild Card if they beat Miami on the road, and Cincinnati, Oakland, and Tennessee lose.
Cincinnati will clinch the Wild Card with a win over Baltimore at home. If Cinncinnati loses, they can only get in if Tennessee, NY, and Oakland lose; OR if Tennessee, NY, and Denver lose, and Oakland wins.
Wow, so you can see that there is much to play for in Week 17. Even though all but 1 team has yet to be determined in the NFC, there is a lot of room for moving around among the qualified teams there. In the AFC, there are 4 teams vying for the 2 remaining playoff spots, and there is a lot of room for variation among the 4 qualified teams. Exciting stuff, for sure.
Finally, here's my weak attempt at a prediction for the first week of playoffs:
#1 Green Bay - BYE
#2 San Francisco - BYE
#3 New Orleans vs. #6 Detroit
#4 Dallas vs. #5 Atlanta
#1 New England - BYE
#2 Pittsburgh - BYE
#3 Houston vs. #6 Cincinnati
#4 Denver vs. #5 Baltimore
Drew Brees and the Saints clinched the NFC South with a 45-16 thrashing of the Falcons. In the game Brees threw for 307 yards and on his last throw a 9 yard touchdown broke the NFL SIngle Season passing record. The record was Marino's for over 20 years. Brees now has 5,087 yards.
Congrats to him.
Also of note is that even witht he NFL being a passing league and the record from a different era, Brees has another game to further his own record.
Other ramifications of the game: The Lions can get the 5th seed in the playoffs now with a win or an ATL loss and avoid having to play the Saints or 49ers in the first round.
Game delayed due to power outage.
Jake Long just had to walk to the locker room in his game vs. the Eagles.
I hope it is minor and I will update when more is known.
This has been on my mind ever since I walked out of Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with the biggest smile I've had in a while. I think it is worthwhile to discuss, and even though many of you will disagree with me and my own opinion, i can easily see how that would be possible, and wont act all butt-hurt about it.
I have spent alot of time lately wondering about the polls and the various weekly rankings that come out, that we wait for, every sunday afternoon. I know that the rankings and win/loss results account for half of the fun we have with this great sport when our teams aren't on the field, but I definitely think that one thing thats lost within a BCS "rankings" system that would not be in a standings format: Logic.
I would like to give you three examples as to why I feel this way:
1. THE NFL. I know they get to fit a whole 12 teams into their post season quest for a Championship, whilst the NCAA has to pick just 2. I understand this makes for an easier method of explaining to fans why their team is out of the running. But at the same time, not once do you hear ESPN announcers sitting around arguing that a 7-9 Steelers team should get in over a 9-7 Bengals team because of bullshit intangibles such as strength of schedule, who has the harder conference/division/etc. Nope. It's cut and dry. Wins and losses. You know what you have to do, and you have to do it.
2. NCAA CONFERENCE STANDINGS. For those of you who say "That Win-Loss stuff just can't work in college football" :::::: All of the conferences base who wins their divisions off of Win/Loss Records and then pre-determined tie breakers. At no point have we heard any news coming down from the Big Ten Atheletic Offices that One team with a worse win loss record should get a berth to the B1G Championship because their schedule was harder. Lord knows. In a perfect world, we would have beaten Iowa, and if we were tied 7-1 and 7-1 with Sparty at the end of the season, they wouldn't have permitted who went to Indy by a poll of sports writers who only watch 3 games a weekend. They'd go with head to head, then mutual opponentsm, or division record.
3. IRRATIONALITY: I am not saying that I think Michigan should be ranked above Oklahoma state, but does no one else realize what happened this weekend? Michigan routed a nationally tradional power, who was not only ranked, but concerning the BCS, was ranked higher than them. Michigan rolled Nebraska. How far do we advance? Three spots. We barely crack the top 15. However, Oklahoma State lost to AN UN RANKED TEAM in Iowa State. Somehow, after they were given the charge to simply prove their worthiness by going into Iowa, beating a team that's not even currently recognized by the BCS pundits, and they flat out failed. Apparently, they are still the #4th ranked team in the country.
And why does the BCS computer-run poll seem to resemble national media opinion/hype in the most uncanny of ways? When LSU strokes a conference opponent, LSU uber alles. When Michigan rolls a team that was picked to beat them, apparently Nebraska had a bad day, or they were over rated. Do you not see that these are opinions? Just like the one I'm giving you! My problem is that a purely mathematical ranking system shouldn't reflect exactly what these ESPN dicks are saying, at least as accurately as it is.
I'm not going to open the can of worms that is BCS v PLAYOFF/ and i'm not going to touch the whole top 3 teams are SEC teams thing with a 20 foot pole. But until this rankings thing is figured out, or at least kept honest, college football can not be considered a real, tangible and competitive sport. In many cases, it doesn't matter how hard these kids play, or how many losses they do or don't have, but which talking head with the most clout seems to be giving them the biggest endorsement.
Imagine if the Red Wings had to depend on Rosenberg to decide if he was going to get hard for them or not, in order to make the playoffs.
That's some pretty frustrating shit...