Posted December 23, 2013

AFC wild-card scenarios for Week 17

AFC East, AFC North, AFC West, NFL Playoffs
Neither the Dolphins nor the Ravens control their own destiny in Week 17.

Neither the Dolphins nor the Ravens fully control their own destiny in Week 17. (Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

Four teams remain in the running for the AFC’s sixth and final playoff spot. Here’s what each team needs to happen in Week 17 to claim that berth:

Miami Dolphins (8-7) would clinch with:
• A win plus either a loss by Baltimore or win by San Diego.
• A tie plus losses by Baltimore and San Diego.

Not one of the quartet in the hunt fully controls its own destiny — a bizarre twist added by the NFL’s tiebreaker scenarios. Miami currently holds the edge on Baltimore because San Diego, a winner Sunday, created a three-team tie at 8-7. In that scenario, the Ravens’ win over Miami is canceled out by Miami’s win over San Diego, pushing the conference-record tiebreaker to the forefront. The Dolphins hold that edge on both the Ravens and Chargers.

MORE COVERAGE: Week 16 Snaps | Playoff picture | Top-10 Mock Draft

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) would clinch with:
• A win plus a loss by either Miami or San Diego.
• A loss plus losses by Miami, San Diego and Pittsburgh.

That aforementioned three-team tiebreaker? Baltimore needs to break it in Week 17 to pull back into the No. 6 seed. The Ravens have to do that by winning, first of all, and then getting the Dolphins or Chargers to trip up. Head-to-head, Baltimore would hold the tiebreaker edge on either of those teams. In a three-team jumble where all three teams have the same record, the Ravens would miss out.

San Diego Chargers (8-7) would clinch with:
• A win or tie plus losses by Miami and Baltimore.

The Chargers are third in the pecking order. They would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Miami, the conference-record tiebreaker with Baltimore and would be No. 3 in the three-team tiebreaker. So, the Chargers’ only hope is to get to 9-7 and hope for help.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) would clinch with:
• A win plus losses by Baltimore, Miami (vs. NY Jets) and San Diego.

Pretty straightforward for the Steelers, who no doubt feel fortunate just to get to Week 17 with a shot. The Jets’ win over Cleveland was huge for them, despite neither of those teams having a postseason shot, because the Steelers need the Jets to get to 8-8 — thus drawing even with the Dolphins.

Here again, we get into a sloppy tiebreaker scenario. The NFL breaks intra-divisional tiebreakers first, even in wild-card scenarios. So, an 8-8 Jets team would eliminate an 8-8 Dolphins team, preventing that Dolphins team from bouncing the Steelers.

Still following? Essentially, the Steelers need a five-way tie at 8-8 between themselves, the Ravens, Jets, Dolphins and Chargers. They’d then hold the edge on every team but Miami … which New York would send packing.

27 comments
Rick56
Rick56

In other words, slim chances that these teams will be in the playoffs...

JesperNørgaard
JesperNørgaard

It is stated that Baltimore clinches PO with a loss (to themselves) plus losses by Miami, San Diego and Pittsburgh, making all other than Pittsburgh 8-8. Then it says: "In a three-team jumble where all three teams have the same record, the Ravens would miss out.". This is self-contradictory, right?


We learn later that a loss to Miami will send them out due to divisional tiebreaking first (Jets better). Ravens has the edge over both Jets (head-to-head) and Chargers (conference).

UnishowponyWherebeef
UnishowponyWherebeef

Two expressions should be banned from the NFL due to egregious overuse and contextual idiocy:


1. Physicality


2. Control destiny

beast
beast

You need to look these articles over before posting them. This is on the same level as a Facebook post by some kid.

realnrh
realnrh

This is wrong. The Miami clinching scenario, specifically. If Miami loses to the Jets, then Miami is out of the playoffs, period, no matter what any other team does. Miami and the Jets would both be at 8-8, but the Jets would have the better division record, and division tiebreakers are applied first. Therefore, the Jets would be the second-ranked team in the AFC East, and the Dolphins would be out. Then the Jets have the worst conference record among all the resultant possible 8-8 teams, so could not make the playoffs anyhow.

Glengarry
Glengarry

This doesn't make any sense. I'm interested in who among Baltimore, Miami, and San Diego will get the playoff spot if they all win next week. You say that in a head-to-head scamble between these three teams, if they all have the same record, Baltimore is out. If that's true, why does Miami need Baltimore to lose in order to clinch? Isn't it enough for Miami to win, period, to clinch?

MattYellowirish
MattYellowirish

Charger scenario post is wrong. Should say baltimore loss.

TonyCristaldi
TonyCristaldi

@JesperNørgaard A few points:


1) Nowhere in the article does it mention Baltimore "losing to themselves". Their game next weekend is against the Bengals.


2)  Baltimore loses a 3-team WC tiebreak with San Diego and Miami based on Miami's better AFC record. However the only way that a tiebreak can occur between those three teams is if they all win and up with 9-7 records. It cannot happen at 8-8 because Miami would drop out vs. the Jets in a Divisional tiebreak, which is applied before bringing in the teams from other divisions with the same record.


3) If Baltimore, Miami, San Diego and Pittsburgh all lose, then Baltimore wins a 3-team WC tiebreak vs. San Diego and the New York Jets based on having a better AFC record.

realnrh
realnrh

And I see it's been fixed (though without noting the correction). Good. Glad someone's paying attention. Though now the bit about the Ravens is wrong: in a three-team jumble with the same records, the Ravens win if they all lose - because then it introduces the Jets, who knock out Miami and create a different set of three. So it's only the all-three-win jumble that Baltimore loses out.

JustinM
JustinM

@GlengarryYou need to read more carefully. If Miami wins, Ravens win and Chargers lose, Ravens are in due to the tiebreaker over the Dolphins. Dolphins hold tiebreaker over Chargers if they both win and Ravens lose. If all three win, Dolphins get in as they go to conference records and Phins have the best of the three. Got it?

JesperNørgaard
JesperNørgaard

@TonyCristaldi @JesperNørgaard  


1) Of course. I was just trying to elaborate - but makes so sense really.


2) Yes. This must be what the article means. They could have written: "In a three-team jumble where all three teams have 9-7 record, the Ravens would miss out."


3) Yes. This is actually what I am missing in the article. They elaborate the first bullet (with the above-mentioned text), but do not elaborate on the bullet "A loss plus losses by Miami, San Diego and Pittsburgh.". This confused me.

MarkPost
MarkPost

@pandah462 You need to go back to school.  The post was grammatically correct.

Scramble
Scramble

@realnrhBut if they all lose and the Steelers win I think they get the wild card.

Glengarry
Glengarry

@JustinM@Glengarry Maybe you missed these these statements in the article. They are what is confusing:

"Not one of the quartet in the hunt fully controls its own destiny — a bizarre twist added by the NFL’s tiebreaker scenarios."

If a win by Miami - and nothing else - is enough to get them in, then they DO control their own destiny. 

"Miami Dolphins (8-7) would clinch with:
• A win plus either a loss by Baltimore or win by San Diego." (my italics)

This also implies that a win ALONE is not enough to get Miami in - they also need San Diego to win. 

 

 

KenKelso
KenKelso

@JustinM @Glengarry Thank you, nobody brought up your scenario online

Which is, if the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers wins, who gets in?

Now i know its the Dolphins. 

Dolphins play the Jets next week. No way are they losing to the Jets



TonyCristaldi
TonyCristaldi

@realnrh @Scramble Last night, I tweeted the author about the mistake that you pointed out. He replied about a half hour later saying that he had fixed it.

realnrh
realnrh

@Scramble Correct. So I'm a bit surprised SI didn't get it right the first time, and then didn't put up a 'an earlier version of this post' blah blah blah to do the journalistic full-disclosure thing, just in case someone looked at it earlier and spread around an inaccurate explanation.