during the second half of an NFL football game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
I love playoff scenarios. Nothing excites me more than watching highlights late in December and then seeing that big PLAYOFF PICTURE graphic on the postgame show that tell you WHAT IT ALL MEANS. To let you know who's in and who is still IN THE HUNT. I much prefer the term IN THE HUNT to ON THE BUBBLE. A team that's IN THE HUNT is prowling, lurking, waiting... ready to STRIKE and steal away a playoff spot from some poor unsuspecting team (you know, like the Jets). Whereas a team that's ON THE BUBBLE is sitting around like a baby with a load in its diaper. So, so lame.
Anyway, you could sit around all day figuring out the permutations and combinations that end up getting the likes of Philly to the playoffs. In fact, ESPN has finally done something useful for a change and given us the playoff machine, which lets you predict outcomes for the next two weeks and tells you how the playoffs would be seeded as a result. The fun thing about this machine is that it lets you talk yourself into certain playoff scenarios being LIKELY, when the truth is that the NFL season never ends quite as you'd expect (ask anyone who bet on Green Bay and Tennessee this weekend). Well, I decided to take this puppy for a whirl, plugging in every stupid combination I could. Here is what I found:
IF EVERY GAME FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS ENDS IN A TIE.
I love any playoff scenario that requires a tie to happen because the odds of a tie happening are about four zillion to one. So I thought it would be funny to see what happens if every team tied for the next two weeks, until I realized that would ensure that the playoff seeds after Week 15 would remain frozen in place.
IF EVERY HOME TEAM WINS
Okay, if every home team wins, then your seedings would look like this:
AFC: 1) NE, 2) PIT, 3) HOU, 4) DEN, 5) BAL, 6) CIN
NFC: 1) GB, 2) NO, 3) SF, 4) DAL, 5) ATL, 6) DET
Not much variation there, with the Bengals knocking the Jets out of contention. BOR-ING. However...
IF EVERY HOME TEAM LOSES
AFC: 1) PIT, 2) HOU, 3) NE, 4) DEN, 5) BAL, 6) NYJ
NFC: 1) GB, 2) SF, 3) NO, 4) DAL, 5) ATL, 6) DET
Now the entire AFC field is flipped on its head, with New England getting kicked all the way down to a three-seed. A man can dream, can't he?
IF EVERY AFC WEST TEAM BUT THE CHIEFS LOSES FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS
You get Kyle Orton in the playoffs. In fact, San Diego can win next week and the Chiefs can still win the division. It's a fait accompli at this point.
IF EVERY VEGAS FAVORITE WINS NEXT WEEKEND, BUT THEN WEEK 17 IS CANCELLED DUE TO A HORRIBLE LAVA MONSTER ATTACK
San Fran would fall to the #3 seed in the NFC, and Pittsburgh would fall all the way to #5 in the AFC. Almost enough to cause Ravens fans to summon that monster using their powers of necromancy.
Go ahead. Test your skillz with the machine now. With a little elbow grease, you too can find a way to get Arizona or Seattle into the NFC Wild Card (but not both. I tried).