The NFL has already gifted us a better-than-expected 2019 season: A from-nowhere, analytically supercharged juggernaut forming in Baltimore. A futuristic, front-loaded defense in San Francisco. A masterclass in quarterback play from Russell Wilson in Seattle. Enough formidable challengers to New England’s sustained dominance to keep us interested, even as New England evolves before our eyes.
While the stage isn’t set for the next phase of the football calendar, it’s coming into clear-enough focus that we can start to look at the playoff picture without anticipating too many insane vacillations between now and the end of December. According to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff odds, we’re basically waiting for Dallas, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Philadelphia and the Rams —teams that have between a 65% chance of reaching the playoffs (Dallas) and 21% chance of getting in (Rams)—to either drop out of the race altogether or cement their positions.
Looking at it with just one game left in Week 13 (we’ll update after Vikings-Seahawks on Monday Night Football), here’s what we’ve got:
1. Baltimore (10-2), 2. New England (10-2)
3. Kansas City (8-4), 4. Houston (8-4)
5. Buffalo (9-3), 6. Pittsburgh (7-5)
SOMEWHERE OFF IN THE DISTANCE:
Tennessee (7-5), Oakland (6-6), Indianapolis (6-6)
IF THE ECOSYSTEM COLLAPSES US AND RENDERS EVERYTHING WE PREVIOUSLY BELIEVED IRRELEVANT
1. San Francisco (10-2), 2. New Orleans (10-2)
3. Green Bay (9-3), 4. Dallas (6-6)
5. Seattle (9-2)*, 6. Minnesota (8-3)
*A Seattle win on Monday night puts them in the divisional lead ahead of San Francisco given the head-to-head tiebreaker.
SOMEWHERE IN THE DISTANCE
Philadelphia (5-7), L.A. Rams (7-5)
IF REVELATIONS OF ELECTION INTERFERENCE LEAD US TO THE CONCLUSION THAT NO NUMBER IS REAL OR DEFINITIVE AND WE ARE TO MAKE OUR OWN DECISIONS FREE OF SUPPORTING DATA
* * *
A quick look at the remaining opponents for some teams still in contention for divisional/wild-card battles…
Browns: Bengals, Cardinals, Ravens, Bengals
Steelers: Cardinals, Bills, Jets, Ravens
Eagles: Giants, Washington, Cowboys, Giants
Cowboys: Bears, Rams, Eagles, Washington
Texans: Broncos, Titans, Buccaneers, Titans
Titans: Raiders, Texans, Saints, Texans
Colts: Buccaneers, Saints, Panthers, Jaguars
This week, we say goodbye to…
The New York Giants axed themselves from playoff contention Sunday with a miserable 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, joining Miami (3-9), Cincinnati (1-11), Detroit (3-8-1), Atlanta (3-9) and Arizona (3-8-1) in the let’s-find-someone-convenient-to-blame-this-crappy-season-on group.
On that front for those curious, the current NFL draft order (via Tankathon): Bengals, Giants, Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Arizona, Jacksonville, Jets, L.A. Chargers.
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