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Wk 17 Playoff Scenarios 2016

The following are all possible playoff seeding scenarios and their odds for the final week of the season as well as all possible tiebreakers. Also listed are potential games where teams could rest starters for the playoffs. There are 3 games that will decide the AFC playoff seedings, and 4 for the NFC. For full standings, records in tiebreaking categories, and individual team playoff seeding odds, visit the Standings page.

AFC

Current Standings:

1. New England Patriots (13-2) -- @MIA
2. Oakland Raiders (12-3) -- @DEN
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5) -- vCLE
4. Houston Texans (9-6) -- @TEN
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) -- @SD
6. Miami Dolphins (10-5) -- vNE

Possible Tiebreakers:

[For division winners]
-KC > OAK on head to head sweep
-HOU > TEN on division record
[For division winner seeding]
-OAK > NE on common games
-PIT > HOU on strength of victory
[For wild card seeding]
-MIA > KC on common games

Seeding Scenarios:

-NE has won AFC East
-PIT has won AFC North
-HOU has won AFC South
-OAK wins AFC West with win OR KC loss
-KC wins AFC West with win + OAK loss

AFC Seeding by Game Results
Odds NE@MIA OAK@DEN KC@SD #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
18%NEOAKKCNEOAKPITHOUKCMIA
13%NEOAKSDNEOAKPITHOUKCMIA
28%NEDENKCNEKCPITHOUOAKMIA
20%NEDENSDNEOAKPITHOUKCMIA
5%MIAOAKKCOAKNEPITHOUKCMIA
3%MIAOAKSDOAKNEPITHOUMIAKC
7%MIADENKCNEKCPITHOUOAKMIA
5%MIADENSDNEOAKPITHOUMIAKC

Potential for Resting Starters:

-PIT is guaranteed #3 seed and has indicated they will rest starters
-HOU is guaranteed #4 seed and could partially rest starters
-MIA is guaranteed #5 or #6 seed, but shouldn't rest starters since playing HOU is preferable to PIT

NFC

Current Standings:

1. Dallas Cowboys (13-2) -- @PHI
2. Atlanta Falcons (10-5) -- vNO
3. Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) -- @SF
4. Green Bay Packers (9-6) -- @DET
5. New York Giants (10-5) -- @WAS
6. Detroit Lions (9-6) -- vGB
7. Washington Redskins (8-6-1) -- vNYG
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) -- vCAR

Possible tiebreakers:

[For division winners]
None
[For division winner seeding]
-ATL > GB on head to head win
-DET > ATL on common games
[For wild card seeding]
-DET > TB on common games
-GB > TB on strength of victory (unless SF, IND, DAL & TEN all win) or strength of schedule (if they do)

Seeding Scenarios:

-DAL has won NFC East
-ATL has won NFC South
-SEA has won NFC West
-Winner of GB@DET wins NFC North

NFC Seeding by Game Results
Odds NO@ATL SEA@SF NYG@WAS GB@DET #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
19%ATLSEAWASGBDALATLSEAGBNYGWAS
15%ATLSEAWASDETDALATLSEADETNYGWAS
8%ATLSEANYGGBDALATLSEAGBNYGDET
6%ATLSEANYGDETDALATLSEADETNYGGB
5%ATLSFWASGBDALATLGBSEANYGWAS
4%ATLSFWASDETDALATLDETSEANYGWAS
2%ATLSFNYGGBDALATLGBSEANYGDET
2%ATLSFNYGDETDALATLDETSEANYGGB
12%NOSEAWASGBDALSEAATLGBNYGWAS
9%NOSEAWASDETDALSEADETATLNYGWAS
5%NOSEANYGGBDALSEAATLGBNYGDET
4%NOSEANYGDETDALSEADETATLNYGGB
3%NOSFWASGBDALATLGBSEANYGWAS
2%NOSFWASDETDALDETATLSEANYGWAS
1%NOSFNYGGBDALATLGBSEANYGDET
1%NOSFNYGDETDALDETATLSEANYGGB

Potential for Resting Starters:

-DAL is guaranteed #1 seed and has indicated they will partially rest starters
-NYG is guaranteed #5 seed and is expected to partially rest starters

How Can TB Make the Playoffs?:

The above scenarios show no way for TB to make the playoffs because they don't include ties, but TB is still technically in the playoff hunt in a complicated scenario that would require a NYG@WAS tie. TB would be eliminated on record if WAS won that game, but would also be eliminated if NYG won because it would give GB the tiebreaker over TB on strength of victory or strength of schedule (they would lose the common games tiebreaker to DET). Therefore the only way TB can make the playoffs is if they win, NYG@WAS is a tie, GB loses, and SF, IND, DAL, & TEN all win to give them the strength of victory tiebreaker over GB.

What if GB & DET tie?:

We haven't bothered to consider ties in the rest of the scenarios due to the increased complexity and minimal probabilities, but one or both of GB and DET will have an incentive to tie the game should it go late into overtime. A tie is actually as good as a win for GB regardless of other game results due to GB having the head to head tiebreaker over DET, and over SEA should SEA lose. IF WAS loses, DET would have no incentive to tie because they would be the #6 seed with a tie or loss. But if WAS wins earlier on Sunday, a tie would be enough to put DET ahead of WAS as the #6 seed on their head to head win, while a loss would result in DET missing the playoffs. No matter what, DET would still prefer a win to win the division, but might not have much reason to hurry up the game in overtime if WAS has won.

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