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Four Teams in Playoffs, 13 With Hope
By The Coach and Dr. Football
Last Sunday, the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings did everything humanly possible to cut themselves out of the 2016-17 National Football League playoff picture.
The Lions were beaten 17-6 by the New York Giants (on the road) while the Vikings were embarrassed 34-6 by the Indianapolis Colts at home. Now, a couple of teams that could have been locks for the post-season (heck, Detroit could have clinched the Division), are now fighting for their lives. And neither team can make it without help.
It’s now Week 16 and with two weeks left in the regular season, the playoff scenarios only get more complicated – and the Lions and Vikings only have more trouble.
While four teams have clinched playoff spots – Dallas and Seattle in the NFC and New England and Oakland in the AFC — there are still 13 teams that have the possibility of clinching a trip to the postseason this weekend. However, all of them will not get in and many, the Lions and Vikings included, still need plenty of help.
The New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers have the most wide-open paths to the post-season, requiring just a win to get in. In fact, with a victory, Pittsburgh will clinch the AFC North crown.
Thanks to the National Football League’s statistics department, here are this week’s playoff scenarios:
CLINCHED: Dallas Cowboys have a playoff berth while the Seattle Seahawks have won the NFC West title
ELIMINATED: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Arizona, Philadelphia.
Dallas clinches division title and home field advantage throughout playoffs:
1) DAL win or tie
2) NYG loss or tie
Seattle clinches a first-round bye:
1) SEA win + DET loss + ATL loss or tie
NEW YORK GIANTS
NY Giants clinch a playoff berth:
1) NYG win or tie
2) DET loss or tie
3) GB loss or tie
4) TB loss or tie
5) ATL loss
Detroit clinches division title:
1) DET win + GB loss or tie
2) DET tie + GB loss
Detroit clinches a playoff berth:
1) DET win + TB loss or tie
2) DET tie + TB loss
3) DET tie + TB tie + ATL win
4) WAS loss or tie + TB loss + ATL win or tie
Atlanta clinches division title:
1) ATL win + TB loss or tie
2) ATL tie + TB loss
Atlanta clinches a playoff berth:
1) ATL win + ATL clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DET
2) ATL win or tie + GB loss or tie
3) ATL win + DET loss or tie
4) ATL tie + DET tie
5) WAS loss or tie + GB loss
6) WAS loss or tie + GB tie + DET loss
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Green Bay clinches a playoff berth:
1) GB win + WAS loss or tie + TB loss + ATL win or tie + GB clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over TB
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay clinches playoff berth:
1) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS loss
2) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS tie + TB clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DET
CLINCHED: The New England Patriots have won the division title and a first-round bye while the Oakland Raiders have a playoff berth.
ELIMINATED: Cleveland, Jacksonville, NY Jets, San Diego, Cincinnati.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
New England clinches home field advantage throughout AFC playoffs:
1) NE win + OAK loss or tie
2) NE tie + OAK loss
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Oakland clinches division title and a first-round bye:
1) OAK win + KC loss or tie
2) OAK tie + KC loss
Pittsburgh clinches division title:
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Kansas City clinches a playoff berth:
1) KC win or tie
2) BAL loss or tie
Houston clinches a division title:
HOU win + TEN loss
Miami clinches a playoff berth:
1) MIA win + DEN loss or tie
2) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss or tie
3) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + TEN loss or tie
Fortunately, none of these scenarios confuse our fearless prognosticators. Both The Coach and Dr. Football have a pretty clear vision of what they want to accomplish this week.
Last week Dr. Football went 13-3 (141-83) straight up and 10-6 (114-110) against the spread while The Coach went 12-4 straight up (146-77) and 8-8 (116-108) against the spread.
This week, it’s all about the playoffs. And, of course, bragging rights for The Coach. So with a glass of Fresca and a handful of Sour Peaches, it’s off to Week 16 – primarily a Saturday affair with Christmas on Sunday — in the National Football League.
New York Giants (10-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)
Line: Giants by 2.5
The Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a victory here and with the way their defense is playing they’ll get it on the road. The Coach says: Never take the Giants IN Philly. It’s much too brutal a town.
Dr. Football: Take the Giants to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Eagles
Washington Redskins (7-6-1) at Chicago Bears (3-11)
Line: Redskins by 3
Chicago almost pulled a major upset against Green Bay last week, while the Redskins imploded on Monday night at home against a weaker opponent which tossed them out of the post season. Washington won’t rebound.
Dr. Football: Take the Bears in an upset.
The Coach: Take the Washingtons to win and cover.
Miami Dolphins (9-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-7)
Line: Bills by 3.5
Both of these teams are still alive in the playoff race, and Miami already has a win against the Bills this season. Buffalo is a tough place to play in December, but the Fish will find a way. The Coach says: It’s too cold and snowy for the Dolphins.
Dr. Football: Take the Dolphins in an upset.
The Coach: Take the Bills to win and cover.
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at Carolina Panthers (6-8)
Line: Falcons by 1.5
Despite a big win on Monday night, the Panthers aren’t the kind of team that can pull off two upsets in a row. Atlanta is for real.
Dr. Football: Take the Falcons to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Falcons to win and cover.
Minnesota Vikings (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (8-6)
Line: Packers by 6.5
As much as we both love the Vikings, we do not have any confidence in a defense that let Andrew Luck destroy them like that last week. Aaron Rodgers at home is money.
Dr. Football: Take the Packers to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Packers to win and cover.
New York Jets (4-10) at New England Patriots (12-2)
Line: Patriots by 16.5
If you are still alive in your Survivor Pool and you were saving this one, well then, you are one week away from winning.
Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.
Tennessee Titans (8-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)
Line: Titans by 4.5
A team with an interim head coach with only 2 wins won’t put up much of a fight. If Tennessee can win at Arrowhead, surely they can win in a warm Florida one too.
Dr. Football: Take the Titans to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Titans to win and cover.
San Diego Chargers (5-9) at Cleveland Browns (0-14)
Line: Chargers by 6
Imagine leaving San Diego to spend Christmas Eve in Cleveland? The faster the Chargers put away the Browns the faster they get home.
Dr. Football: Take the Chargers to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Chargers to win and cover.
Indianapolis Colts (7-7) at Oakland Raiders (11-3)
Line: Raiders by 4
The Colts looked impressive in Minnesota last week, but this Oakland team who is playoff bound for the first time in years will celebrate Christmas with their fans in style. The Coach says: Oakland is in while the Colts still have have a tiny bit of life and were the real Colts six days ago.
Dr. Football: Take the Raiders to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Colts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) at New Orleans Saints (6-8)
Line: Saints by 3
The Saints looked good last week beating Arizona, but Tampa Bay beat them two weeks ago. But the Bucs are playing their second consecutive road game, and coming off the loss in Dallas, won’t have anything left in the tank.
Dr. Football: Take the Saints to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Saints to win and cover.
San Francisco 49ers (1-13) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10)
Line: Rams by 4
Like I’ve said before, they waited how long for the pro football to return to Los Angeles, and they’re still waiting. The 49ers are playing consecutive road games.
Dr. Football: Take the Rams to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Rams to win and cover.
Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) at Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)
Line: Seahawks by 9
The way Arizona’s defense is playing, this one could get ugly, especially since the game is in Seattle.
Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) at Houston Texans (8-6)
Line: Texans by 1
It only took 15 weeks for Houston to figure out Brock Osweiler isn’t the answer. Tom Savage probably isn’t the long term solution either, but he’ll do this week.
Dr. Football: Take the Texans to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Texans to win and cover.
LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
Line: Steelers by 5
Pittsburgh has too much firepower, and with a chance to finish off the division, it should be a big day for Big Ben at home.
Dr. Football: Take the Steelers to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Steelers to win and cover.
Denver Broncos (8-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
Line: Chiefs by 3.5
One can expect Kansas City to be re-focused this week, and it’s doubtful they’ll lose back-to-back games at home for the first time since 2013.
Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
Detroit Lions (9-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-2)
Line: Cowboys by 7
Detroit needs this one to win the Division. Even Santa wouldn’t promise that to the Lions especially in Dallas.
Dr. Football: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.
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