AFC Playoff Watch: The Quest for the #1 seed

tims4wins

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Yes. And the Pats got destroyed @Jax, Det and Tenn, and the last play @Mia will probably cost them the 1 seed.

And the difference between @KC and @NE in a final AFC game is night and day.

So shit happens.
Shit does happen. But the Colts and Titans have won more times than the Steelers. They simply didn't take care of business. Not sure how tie breakers would work but simply avoiding the Cleveland tie and they would probably be in the playoffs. Also, Oakland's point differential is like 70 worse than Miami's. There is bad, and there is awful. Oakland is an awful team. Also, Indy has a better point differential than the Steelers. The top 6 by point differential in the AFC are all slated to make the playoffs. That seems fair to me. By weighted DVOA Pittsburgh also rates as worse than all the other AFC playoff teams through week 15.
 

BigSoxFan

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So first we need the Chiefs to lose. Then again, I don’t think it’s possible for a team to lose that only needs to win in order to lock up home field, especially when that team is favored by double digits...

http://www.espn.com/nfl/game?gameId=400791607
KC will be at home and not playing in their house of horrors. Any given Sunday and all that but it would basically take a Mahomes injury to give Oakland any chance of winning.
 

DeadlySplitter

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if OAK somehow wins and LAC wins, LAC is 1. I would take that in a heartbeat for sure.

come on Oakland, do us one more solid
 

bunchabums

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Strange year in the NFL. Often, you feel good about facing most teams on the way to the Super Bowl save for some Ravens team coming on at the end of the year. This year, I feel like it is a total toss up. Any team can beat anyone in the AFC. That first round bye is huge in that scenario -- simply one less game to play. Would anyone be surprised if the AFC championship game does NOT feature the top two seeds?
 

E5 Yaz

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Looking at a possible playoff TV schedule if KC/NE and NO/LAR are the top 4 seeds

Wild Card
Saturday
4:30 Indy at Houston ABC/ESPN
8:15 Minnesota at Chicago NBC

Sunday
1:00 LA Chargers at Baltimore CBS
4:25 Seattle at Dallas FOX

Divisional
Saturday
4:30 Chicago at LA Rams NBC
8:15 Baltimore/LA Chargers at Patriots CBS

Sunday
1:00 Indy at KC CBS
4:25 Seattle/Dallas at New Orleans FOX
In your WC weekend, I wonder whether the NFL would give the AFC both earlier slots. Andrew Luck vs Watt/Watson might be attractive enough for the NBC game

In the divisional, the Mahomes factor/No. 1 seed vs a suboptimal Patriots team might swap those two games
 

DeadlySplitter

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Strange year in the NFL. Often, you feel good about facing most teams on the way to the Super Bowl save for some Ravens team coming on at the end of the year. This year, I feel like it is a total toss up. Any team can beat anyone in the AFC. That first round bye is huge in that scenario -- simply one less game to play. Would anyone be surprised if the AFC championship game does NOT feature the top two seeds?
if Baltimore & Chargers make it out of the WC round (although they could be playing each other now in WC), you could see them both make it to the AFCCG. it's definitely a year a #3 or #4 seed could host the AFCCG.

not that I want that anymore.
 

RedOctober3829

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In your WC weekend, I wonder whether the NFL would give the AFC both earlier slots. Andrew Luck vs Watt/Watson might be attractive enough for the NBC game

In the divisional, the Mahomes factor/No. 1 seed vs a suboptimal Patriots team might swap those two games
Market size I thought Chicago would make sense as my first thought would be that Fox would request the Dallas game. If they can’t protect it then Seattle/Dallas is the obvious prime time choice.

For divisional weekend, the Patriots always seem to get the Saturday prime time game. Chicago/LA would be the next option given the 2 market sizes. Then if Dallas is in they’re a ratings factor.
 

HurstSoGood

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What a strange, strange year. The Pats are in position to possibly win the Division (check), grab a playoff bye, while losing 5 regular season games - all 5 to non-playoff teams. Is there an easy way to look up if such a thing has ever happened before?
 

Dan Murfman

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What a strange, strange year. The Pats are in position to possibly win the Division (check), grab a playoff bye, while losing 5 regular season games - all 5 to non-playoff teams. Is there an easy way to look up if such a thing has ever happened before?
Well if Tennessee wins next Sunday they will be a playoff team.
 

DrewDawg

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A friend of mine is spending a few days in DC area after Xmas--doing some touristy stuff. She was going to cap it off taking her kids to the Ravens game since they've never been to an NFL game. Like 6 weeks ago she could've grabbed 4 tix to the Ravens game on stubhub for $30-35/ea. Now the Ravens have won 5 of 6 and the tickets are around $80 and the game was flexed to 4:25.

And, because the Eagles won, the Philly-Washington game (which could have been a cheap option) was also flexed to the late slot and those ticket prices jumped way up.
 

dcmissle

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A friend of mine is spending a few days in DC area after Xmas--doing some touristy stuff. She was going to cap it off taking her kids to the Ravens game since they've never been to an NFL game. Like 6 weeks ago she could've grabbed 4 tix to the Ravens game on stubhub for $30-35/ea. Now the Ravens have won 5 of 6 and the tickets are around $80 and the game was flexed to 4:25.

And, because the Eagles won, the Philly-Washington game (which could have been a cheap option) was also flexed to the late slot and those ticket prices jumped way up.
Steer her to Baltimore. The fan experiences in the two places are not remotely comparable. Fed X is an inconvenient dump. Ravens’ stadium is really nice and much easier to get in and out of from DC, from anywhere really, despite the additional distance.

If she chooses Bal, pm me if you’d like transportation options.
 

tims4wins

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The Chiefs have given up 66 more points (418 so far this season) than the next closest playoff team (the Rams at 352). That is an eye opening number.

Edit: if they give up 9 points in week 17 it will be the most points allowed all time by a playoff team
 

DrewDawg

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Other items of note (non-Patriots):

1--A Houston loss to Jax knocks them down to the 6th seed. Not likely, but that could set up a potential HOU/BAL matchup in WC round.
2--Dallas is locked in as the 4th seed in the NFC--so, along with NO, are the only team locked into a slot.
3--Chicago still has a shot at the bye, with a win and a Rams loss.

Be weird if KC and HOU loses, and the 2 teams set up for byes 2 weeks ago, tumble to the 5th and 6th seeds.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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The Chiefs have given up 66 more points (418 so far this season) than the next closest playoff team (the Rams at 352). That is an eye opening number.

Edit: if they give up 9 points in week 17 it will be the most points allowed all time by a playoff team
Where does one find that stat? Pro Football Reference's search options are disappointing.
 

j44thor

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The Chiefs have given up 66 more points (418 so far this season) than the next closest playoff team (the Rams at 352). That is an eye opening number.

Edit: if they give up 9 points in week 17 it will be the most points allowed all time by a playoff team
What is really odd about that is KC does not have a massive talent deficiency on defense unlike say an OAK. You can include LAR into that equation as well. That leads me to believe coaching/scheme is not very good.
I'd take the KC/LAR front 7 in a heart beat over NE. Obv NE secondary is much better than both but in today's pass happy NFL I can't see just the secondary making that big of a difference, the rules simply don't allow for it.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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What is really odd about that is KC does not have a massive talent deficiency on defense unlike say an OAK. You can include LAR into that equation as well. That leads me to believe coaching/scheme is not very good.
I'd take the KC/LAR front 7 in a heart beat over NE. Obv NE secondary is much better than both but in today's pass happy NFL I can't see just the secondary making that big of a difference, the rules simply don't allow for it.
Part of the impact is going to be # of opportunities. KC has allowed the 4th most points but has the 5th worst DVOA. Huh, not that big a difference actually.
 

tims4wins

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What is really odd about that is KC does not have a massive talent deficiency on defense unlike say an OAK. You can include LAR into that equation as well. That leads me to believe coaching/scheme is not very good.
I'd take the KC/LAR front 7 in a heart beat over NE. Obv NE secondary is much better than both but in today's pass happy NFL I can't see just the secondary making that big of a difference, the rules simply don't allow for it.
The NE secondary I think has proved the opposite. Pats rank far better than those other teams in terms of points allowed, and the passing numbers against the Pats are all really bad - Pats are top 6/7 in the league in terms of completion % against, YPA, and passer rating. Given that the rush generally has sucked, I have to attribute that to the secondary.
 

tims4wins

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Where does one find that stat? Pro Football Reference's search options are disappointing.
Honestly I just looked through the standings over the last 10 or 12 years. I figured with the offensive explosion recently it wasn't very likely than teams pre-2005 or so could allow so many points.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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I think someone pointed to PFT already, but a good summary of all scenarios:

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2018/12/25/12-teams-have-playoff-clinching-scenarios-for-week-17/

Building off it, and looking at the entire schedule. I'm ignoring ties for the most part except IND/TEN. When talking about SoV, note that BAL has a small deficit to HOU. I probably missed a couple SoV impacts.

1PM games:
  1. MIA/BUF doesn't matter, except in a remote scenario where BUF's record impacts BAL's SoV - this only matters for the 2nd bye if HOU/BAL are tied, which means BAL W, HOU L, NE L, IND/TEN T.
  2. DET/GB doesn't matter
  3. NYJ/NE has the obvious implications - NE win keeps #1 alive and clinches a bye, a loss still leaves a slim possibility of the bye (BAL/HOU/TEN all lose). Every division winner has a stake in this game, until other games are decided.
  4. CAR/NO doesn't matter
  5. JAX/HOU has the obvious implications - HOU win gives them the division and leaves them alive for either bye. If they lose, they need the IND/TEN tie to keep the division. Every playoff contender except LAC & PIT are rooting for JAX, either a little or a lot.
  6. DAL/NYG doesn't matter, except in a remote scenario where DAL's record impacts HOU's SoV - this only matters if HOU is tied with KC or BAL for one of the byes.
  7. ATL/TB doesn't matter
4PM games:
  1. OAK/KC has the obvious implications - KC win gives them #1, rather than risking falling to 2 or 3 or 5. The earlier games don't really relieve any pressure, because they only matter if both KC & LAC lose.
  2. ARI/SEA matters for Wild Card seeding. SEA win gives them #5, a loss leads to falling to #6 if MIN also wins.
  3. SF/LAR has the obvious implications - LAR clinch a bye with a win (or a Bears loss).
  4. LAC/DEN - LAC gunning for the #1 seed with a win & KC loss. A loss equals #5. This game also has a 2x impact on SoV between BAL & HOU, with the Chargers win helping BAL.
  5. CHI/MIN - MIN clinch a WC with a win, and keep their #5 chance alive. CHI keeps their #2 chance alive with a win.
  6. CLE/BAL - BAL win clinches the division. If NE & HOU lost at 1PM, it keeps their bye chance alive. If one of them lost, it keeps their #3 chance alive.
  7. PHI/WAS - PHI win keeps them alive for the #6, needing a MIN loss. A WAS win helps HOU in SoV.
  8. CIN/PIT - PIT needs to win to keep their playoff chances alive. Combined with a BAL L is the division, combined with IND/TEN tie is the #6.
SNF - IND/TEN
  1. At this point we'll know a lot more, but this game matters no matter what.
  2. Both teams are win and in for a wild card
  3. If HOU lost at 1PM, both are win and in for the division
  4. If HOU & NE & BAL lost earlier, a TEN win gives them a bye.
  5. If either PIT or BAL lost at 4PM, a tie gives IND the #6.
As always, the NFL did a good job arranging game times to ensure earlier results don't impact later incentives.

Edit: It's not possible for KC to win the SoV tiebreaker and also to get in that tie with HOU, so I eliminated those references.

Edit2: The crazyass scenario where BAL/HOU SoV matters is only if IND/TEN tie and a whole bunch of other stuff - then BAL needs 4 out of 5 games to go the right way, or HOU gets the #2.
 
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SirPsychoSquints

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Impacts on incentives:
  1. KC could conceivably scoreboard watch LAC, but only if NE & HOU have already lost
  2. Similarly, LAC could give up if KC is way ahead.
  3. SEA could scoreboard watch MIN.
  4. LAR could scoreboard watch CHI (and vice versa, if LAR is way ahead, CHI could let up).
  5. MIN only loses incentives if PHI is way behind and SEA is way ahead.
  6. BAL could conceivably scoreboard watch PIT, but only if NE & HOU won earlier in the day.
  7. NE, HOU, PHI, PIT, IND & TEN have no incentive to let up at any point, except maybe IND would play for a tie.
 

Super Nomario

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You can search it on pfref: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tgl_finder.cgi?request=1&match=single&year_min=1940&year_max=2018&game_type=R&game_num_min=0&game_num_max=99&week_num_min=0&week_num_max=99&temperature_gtlt=lt&tm_is_playoff=Y&c5val=1.0&order_by=points_opp

The 2000 Rams allowed a staggering 471 points but scored 540.

What is really odd about that is KC does not have a massive talent deficiency on defense unlike say an OAK. You can include LAR into that equation as well. That leads me to believe coaching/scheme is not very good.
I'd take the KC/LAR front 7 in a heart beat over NE. Obv NE secondary is much better than both but in today's pass happy NFL I can't see just the secondary making that big of a difference, the rules simply don't allow for it.
Isn't the Occam's Razor that you're just wrong on this? Probably both in undervaluing secondary play and in overrating KC's front seven.
 

j44thor

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You can search it on pfref: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tgl_finder.cgi?request=1&match=single&year_min=1940&year_max=2018&game_type=R&game_num_min=0&game_num_max=99&week_num_min=0&week_num_max=99&temperature_gtlt=lt&tm_is_playoff=Y&c5val=1.0&order_by=points_opp

The 2000 Rams allowed a staggering 471 points but scored 540.


Isn't the Occam's Razor that you're just wrong on this? Probably both in undervaluing secondary play and in overrating KC's front seven.
Chris Jones, Dee Ford and Justin Houston all have more sacks than Trey Flowers who leads NE. While sacks aren't the end all be all they are a fairly important aspect of pass rush/ pass D.

Why can't Occam's razor simply be that scheme/coaching/opponent have more to do with results than actual on-field talent?
 

SirPsychoSquints

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2008 Cardinals I think, who almost won it all. 2016 Falcons were up there I think. As were the (ugh) 2011 Giants.
So yeah, out of those, only the 2008 Cardinals have more points than the Chiefs after 15 games - and they were the 4 seed.

Edit: Further information from Super Nomario responded to below
 
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SirPsychoSquints

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You can search it on pfref: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tgl_finder.cgi?request=1&match=single&year_min=1940&year_max=2018&game_type=R&game_num_min=0&game_num_max=99&week_num_min=0&week_num_max=99&temperature_gtlt=lt&tm_is_playoff=Y&c5val=1.0&order_by=points_opp

The 2000 Rams allowed a staggering 471 points but scored 540.


Isn't the Occam's Razor that you're just wrong on this? Probably both in undervaluing secondary play and in overrating KC's front seven.
Awesome, thanks. So they'd need to allow 53 to match the 2000 Rams (6 seed), only 10 to match the 2013 Packers (4 seed at 8-7-1) and 8 to tie the aforementioned 2008 Cardinals (4 Seed). They're already 4th highest, likely to be 2nd. If they win the game, they'd be far and away the highest to get a #1 seed, or even a bye, and probably the highest to win a division.
 

Super Nomario

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Chris Jones, Dee Ford and Justin Houston all have more sacks than Trey Flowers who leads NE. While sacks aren't the end all be all they are a fairly important aspect of pass rush/ pass D.
They are definitely better than the Patriots at sacking the quarterback, and also worse at every other aspect of defense: worse on pass plays generally (even including sacks), worse at getting INTs, worse at run defense (where the Pats are also terrible but KC is absolutely brutal), worse on 3rd down, worse in the red zone.

Why can't Occam's razor simply be that scheme/coaching/opponent have more to do with results than actual on-field talent?
Bob Sutton and Andy Reid have been there since 2013 and have had some very good defenses during that span (2014 & 2015 especially), so I don't think it's coaching / scheme. As for opponent, DVOA makes an opponent adjustment and the Chiefs only improve to 27th. I don't think this theory holds up to scrutiny, especially not when you consider some of the subpar defenses Belichick has deployed in the last decade.

A lot of folks saw this Chiefs D coming, too. Robert Mays was really down on them going into the year. USA Today ranked them 29th going into the year.

Worth noting: the Chiefs pass defense is bad, but only like 10th-12th worst on a rate basis in most stats, but they face more passing attempts than any other team, probably because they lead so much. OTOH, their run D is awful, so getting to face more passes and fewer runs doesn't help them as much as it would most teams. Also, the Chiefs defense has faced tied for the fewest drives of any defense in the NFL, and their opponents have the worst starting field position, so they are getting help from their offense in other ways and they are still terrible.
 

tims4wins

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Also, the Chiefs defense has faced tied for the fewest drives of any defense in the NFL, and their opponents have the worst starting field position, so they are getting help from their offense in other ways and they are still terrible.
This is a really interesting point in lieu of the discussions we have had about past Patriot defenses. We always saw the Pats rank in the mediocre to bad range in most stats, but they didn't give up a ton of points, and we attributed a good chunk of that not only to "bend but don't break", but also the point that the offense and special teams helped the defense. Yet here we have a case of the offense and special teams helping out the D... and they still suck.
 

Super Nomario

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This is a really interesting point in lieu of the discussions we have had about past Patriot defenses. We always saw the Pats rank in the mediocre to bad range in most stats, but they didn't give up a ton of points, and we attributed a good chunk of that not only to "bend but don't break", but also the point that the offense and special teams helped the defense. Yet here we have a case of the offense and special teams helping out the D... and they still suck.
And worth noting: the Chiefs have been able to do this recently. In 2016 they were 24th in yards allowed but 7th in points; in 2017 they were 28th in yards but 15th in points; in 2013 they were 24th in yards and 5th in points. A lot of that was turnover-driven: they were top two in turnovers all three of those years (and also in 2015, when the D was 7th in yards / 3rd in points). This year they're still above-average in turnovers (11th), but it's not enough.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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They are definitely better than the Patriots at sacking the quarterback, and also worse at every other aspect of defense: worse on pass plays generally (even including sacks), worse at getting INTs, worse at run defense (where the Pats are also terrible but KC is absolutely brutal), worse on 3rd down, worse in the red zone.


Bob Sutton and Andy Reid have been there since 2013 and have had some very good defenses during that span (2014 & 2015 especially), so I don't think it's coaching / scheme. As for opponent, DVOA makes an opponent adjustment and the Chiefs only improve to 27th. I don't think this theory holds up to scrutiny, especially not when you consider some of the subpar defenses Belichick has deployed in the last decade.

A lot of folks saw this Chiefs D coming, too. Robert Mays was really down on them going into the year. USA Today ranked them 29th going into the year.

Worth noting: the Chiefs pass defense is bad, but only like 10th-12th worst on a rate basis in most stats, but they face more passing attempts than any other team, probably because they lead so much. OTOH, their run D is awful, so getting to face more passes and fewer runs doesn't help them as much as it would most teams. Also, the Chiefs defense has faced tied for the fewest drives of any defense in the NFL, and their opponents have the worst starting field position, so they are getting help from their offense in other ways and they are still terrible.
How is it possible they've faced so few drives, when their offense scores so frequently? Is their offense chewing up clock?
 

Reggie's Racquet

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If there is any concern about Patterson I would hold him out. Don't think we need him to beat the Jets but we will need him healthy for the playoffs. He adds a dynamic element to the offense and is especially important with the loss of Gordon.
 

BigSoxFan

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This game is as important as a playoff game since it is the difference between a bye and almost certainly not a bye.
Agreed. It’s effectively a WC game. Win and you go to Divisional Round. Jets have been putting up points lately. I want anyone and everyone active.
 

j-man

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In your WC weekend, I wonder whether the NFL would give the AFC both earlier slots. Andrew Luck vs Watt/Watson might be attractive enough for the NBC game

In the divisional, the Mahomes factor/No. 1 seed vs a suboptimal Patriots team might swap those two games
i wouild say

sat WCW MINN/PHILLY @ CHI ESPN
LAC @ BALT/PITT PITT WOUILD get the night game for sure but nautz is form HOU so no travel and CBS has the SB this season

SUN INDY @ HOU
SEA @ DAL

DIV RIOUND
SAT PART A HOU @ NE
CHI @ RAMS NBC
OR B LAC @ KC
DAL @ NO NBC

SUN A LAC @ KC DAL @ NO B HOU @ NE CHI @ RAMS FOX
 

DrewDawg

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Steer her to Baltimore. The fan experiences in the two places are not remotely comparable. Fed X is an inconvenient dump. Ravens’ stadium is really nice and much easier to get in and out of from DC, from anywhere really, despite the additional distance.

If she chooses Bal, pm me if you’d like transportation options.
Thanks for the offer, but because the games were moved she's gonna take then to see the Wizards game tomorrow and probably not hit the football game unless the ticket prices drop drastically.

And yes, a women that decides that when she goes out of town a few days absolutely has to take her kids to a professional sports game in said town is a fucking catch.
 

dcmissle

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Thanks for the offer, but because the games were moved she's gonna take then to see the Wizards game tomorrow and probably not hit the football game unless the ticket prices drop drastically.

And yes, a women that decides that when she goes out of town a few days absolutely has to take her kids to a professional sports game in said town is a fucking catch.
Yes, she is.

This is a year old but still quite relevant. The Washington Wizards have been the trigger of some epic SAS rants —

 

axx

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Agreed. It’s effectively a WC game. Win and you go to Divisional Round. Jets have been putting up points lately. I want anyone and everyone active.
Worse than that actually, they could end up as the 4 seed if they lose. Which means playing SD/KC at home in the WC round and then playing the other on the road in the divisional round.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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Worse than that actually, they could end up as the 4 seed if they lose. Which means playing SD/KC at home in the WC round and then playing the other on the road in the divisional round.
For the record, this would be if the Ravens and either the Texans or Titans win their games, which one would have to admit is likely (NYT says 55%, assuming the Patriots lose to the Jets).