Well, that was pretty depressing. The Lions were at home and needed a win to put themselves in good, but not locked, playoff position. Their defense even did a decent job, keeping Baltimore out of the end zone even when they had possessions start near midfield and on the Detroit 34. Instead the offense didn’t come through, with Stafford throwing three picks and Calvin Johnson chipping in with a couple of big drops. Detroit was on the wrong end of a couple of pretty bad referee decisions, to be sure, but it shouldn’t have come to that. Let’s move on before I get too morose, which might happen anyway when we get to the playoff scenarios.
Quickly, here are the rankings and season predictions.
Ok, the playoffs. Since I was talking about the Lions, let’s start with the NFC North. Since Chicago and Green Bay play each other in week 17, the Bears will either have at least 9 wins or Green Bay will have at least 8 wins but the tie on their record, so the Lions have to get to 9 wins to have a chance. They have to win both games. Since the Lions can only get to 9 wins and the Bears/Packers have the week 17 game, that means the Lions need at least one of the two to lose this week. If both Chicago and Green Bay wins, then they would get either 10 (Chicago) or 9 (Green Bay) wins and take the division. But if one wins this week and then loses in week 17, Detroit can still make it if they win out. So Detroit step 1: win out. Step 2a: have at least one of Chicago and Green Bay lose in week 16. Step 2b: have the team that wins in week 16 lose in week 17. Otherwise, Chicago gets in if they win in week 17, or Green Bay gets in if they win week 17 and matches Chicago in week 16.
It’s actually relatively straightforward, although it sounds tough. Detroit has to win out and have both Chicago and Green Bay lose at least once. Green Bay needs to match or do better than Chicago next week and win in week 17. Otherwise Chicago is in. I have the chances of Chicago making it at about 50% and the chances of Detroit making it at about 18%. The Advanced NFL Stats numbers are a little more generous to Detroit, at about 25%. Any which way, the Lions really shot themselves in the foot.
All the scenarios are thoughtfully collected by ESPN here, although it only covers the immediate ones. In terms of other playoff races, I have Miami as the more likely AFC 6 seed despite Baltimore also winning. Baltimore has to get through the Patriots and a road game with the Bengals while Miami goes to Buffalo and hosts the Jets. Miami has to do better to get in, but it’s very possible the Ravens lose both their games, and it’s also very possible the Dolphins win both of theirs. If they both lose both their games, however, the Chargers could make it by winning out or the Steelers would if they win out and the Chargers drop a game. In the NFC East, Dallas is in the Green Bay position: they need to at least match Philly in week 16 and then win their week 17 game. And the NFC South/West is a mess with all the games they have between each other, so I don’t want to get into it.
The outcomes for week 16 that I think would be good/interesting: Miami win, Cincinnati win, Chiefs win, Cowboys win, Carolina win, Denver win, Lions win, Arizona win, Steelers win, Chargers win, Patriots win, Eagles win, and Atlanta win. That would set up a week 17 where: if Detroit wins, they get in; if Detroit loses, Chicago and Green Bay play to get in; Miami would play to get in, and Baltimore would play to get in if the Dolphins lose; Carolina would play to be somewhere between 2nd and 6th; Denver and KC’s games would matter; the Bengals’ game would matter for them as well as what it does to the Ravens; Dallas and Philly play to get in; the Saints would play to be somewhere between 2nd and 6th; and the 49ers and Cardinals play to get in. The only meaningless games would be Seahawks-Rams, Browns-Steelers, Giants-Washington, Colts-Jags, and Titans-Texans. Even then, two of the games would involve playoff teams who are just locked into position. In exchange we would have potentially three direct play-in games and another three play-in games for one of the teams. That sounds like a good way to end the season to me.
On to the model results! In all games Luigi was 10-6 but would have passed on two games and gone 8-6 on the rest. That gives Luigi a total of 106-97-5/84-77-3. Yoshi 1 was 9-7/8-7 for a total of 99-104-5/83-91-5, and Yoshi 2 was 10-6/8-6 for a total of 101-102-5/82-84-3. The consensus picks, where all three models agree, were 8-5 for a 59-52-1 total.
Luigi’s SuperContest picks were 2-3. Tennessee is the pick that burns; they were +2.5 and lost by a field goal in overtime. Had they gone for two at the end of regulation like Washington did, they very likely cover; had they not thrown a pick in overtime, they probably cover; had the line been +3 with some juice, I get a push. But thems the breaks of betting. That puts my record at 42-31-2 for 43 points. The average score for people still picking is 36, and 43 points would have me in a tie for 56th. First place right now has 50 points, so it’s extremely unlikely I get there. I could still make the fake money with maybe 8 points in the last two weeks though, and more likely 9 or 10. Yoshi 1 would have gone 2-3 for a record of 35-38-2. Yoshi 2 would have also gone 2-3 for a total of 39-35-1.
All three models had great weeks on the moneyline, thanks to the Chargers, Rams, Vikings, and Packers.
Using his lines, Bill Simmons went 6-9-1 to go back to his bad habits (he at least had the Titans at +3). Luigi went 9-6-1, Yoshi 1 went 8-7-1, and Yoshi 2 went 9-6-1. That makes the counts Bill 85-103-6, Luigi 99-89-6, Yoshi 1 100-88-6, and Yoshi 2 93-95-6. That should pretty much put the nail in the coffin; Bill will have to look forward to winning the playoff pick battle.