Joe Lavin

December 28, 2004

NFL Playoff Scenarios


The final week of the NFL season is upon us, and like most sports fans I'm overjoyed. Well, actually, it's not the football I love. I may not even watch any of the games this weekend. No, what I like is the math. I'm talking, of course, about all the arcane playoff possibilities and tiebreakers that are such a part of each NFL season. For some reason, I have always loved figuring out all the different playoff scenarios.

Unfortunately, with most of the top seeds already determined, this season is a little too clear-cut. I prefer it when all 32 teams end the season 8-8, and the final playoff spot comes down to which team's coach once dated the aunt of the Commissioner, that little known 13th item in the NFL tie-breaking procedures. Nevertheless, much remains up for grabs. Here then is an up-to-the-minute guide to all the playoff possibilities.

Cleveland can clinch a playoff berth with a win and any two of the following: (a) losses by Baltimore and Cincinnati, (b) a complete rupture in the time-space continuum, or (c) immediate contraction of twenty other teams.

St. Louis will clinch a playoff spot if the square root of their total net touchdowns is greater than or equal to pi.

Jacksonville could clinch the NFC West with a win and a Seattle loss if they actually played in that division. Unfortunately, they play in the AFC South.

CBS football analyst Phil Simms can clinch the driving to insanity of me if I hear him one more time. Sadly, I probably will.

Buffalo will make the playoffs if (a) voters pass Referendum 36Q which will allow the use of state funds to build a new stadium consisting entirely of luxury suites and (b) St. Louis defeats the New York Jets.

New Orleans and Carolina can really mess things up if they finish their game tied.

Baltimore can clinch a playoff spot with a win and either of the following: (a) pretty much every other good team loses or (b) Janet Jackson is invited back to perform at the Super Bowl.

Both Minnesota and Denver can clinch a playoff spot with a victory, but that would be boring.

Green Bay can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs in their dreams.

The New York Giants could clinch a playoff spot if they actually played in New York.

Seattle does not actually need a winning record in order to host a first-round playoff game.

Cincinnati can earn a playoff spot if Denver defeats Baltimore by 31 points or more. Unfortunately, Denver is playing Indianapolis, which pretty much leaves Cincinnati screwed.

The New York Jets can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, but they won't.

Tight End George Brickman can clinch a 1-3 year jail term instead of a 5-7 year jail term if he implicates his teammate Jack McGee during police questioning.

New Orleans will make the playoffs if they lose, only if they lose. If they win, they will not make the playoffs. Don't ask. "It'll be tough, but if we all work together as a team, I know we can do it," Saints Coach Jim Haslett said yesterday.

Detroit will make the playoffs if and only if they cheat.


©2004 Joe Lavin

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