Week 15: Who to Root For

(2020 Playoffs)

Well, so that happened.
On Sunday, we lost to the Colts – a scenario of course we did not want, as in doing so we lost quite a bit of control over our destiny.
BUT, fear not – there is still a chance to get into the playoffs, it’s just that now we will have to hope even more than ever, that a variety of other things happen as well (in addition to us winning, of course).

And, hopefully, that winning should come easier. That’s because within hours of the game’s conclusion, we fired Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther. And why was that? Well, to put it mildly, the Defense sh*t the bed again. It had been sh*tting the bed for 14 weeks (or, 3 seasons), but Gruden finally decided it was time to move on from his leaky ol’, predictable pal, Paul.
Farewell Mr. Guenther, we barely knew you ran a defense. In his place, we promoted Defensive Line coach Rod Marinelli to interim Defensive Coordinator in an attempt to give the defense some much-needed Imodium.

In this next week, let us hope that we come a bit more prepared on both sides of the ball, as at one point in our bout on Sunday it had gotten so out of hand, that the commentators starting talking about pigeons on the field. It was an odd week. We went from initially wanting the Ravens to win their game vs the Browns, to suddenly wanting the Browns to win after we lost ours. The season has been a ride.

But let’s look ahead now to what we need to happen this next week, in Week 15 of the 2020 NFL Season, to maximize our chances of making the playoffs. And to do that, let us update you on the current Playoff picture.

The current AFC Playoffs picture:

#1 Seed: Chiefs  ||  #2 Seed: Steelers  ||  #3 Seed: Bills  ||  #4 Seed: Titans
#5 Seed: Browns  ||  #6 Seed: Colts  ||  #7 Seed: Dolphins

The AFC Teams In-the-Hunt are currently (in order):
Ravens, Raiders (#9), Patriots, Broncos
*the Broncos are still all but eliminated by this point but could technically make it (are now 5-8, but would require a divine intervention)

And now, here are the key match-ups to watch in Week 15, with the team to root for bolded:

                Playoff Seed Competition:
BILLS (10-3) at Broncos (5-8)   [Saturday @ 1:30pm PST]
— This one is pretty straightforward. We need the Bills to win their division as otherwise, if they drop down to the Wildcard spots they’ll have a Head-to-Head Tiebreaker over us from their Week 4 win over us.
PATRIOTS (6-7) at Dolphins (8-5)   [Sunday @ 10:00am PST]
— The Dolphins currently have a precious Wildcard spot (#7), and something needs to be done about that. A loss to the Patriots could be enough to knock them out of a playoff spot – one that we’d be glad to take.
► Browns (9-4) at GIANTS (5-8)   [Sunday @ 5:20pm PST]
— The Giants have turned on a bit as of late, having won 4 of their last 5. If they could keep it up and knock the Browns down a notch, that’d be great as the Browns currently hold a Wildcard spot. And if they can just get knocked down enough to match our record, we have a Head-to-Head Tiebreaker scenario that we could win due to our Week 8 victory over them.
► TEXANS (4-9) at Colts (9-4)   [Sunday @ 10:00am PST]
— Ah, we have another quandary this week as a result of us not taking care of business. The playoff picture has gotten so competitive (and tight) that yet again, we have a scenario playing out with a lot to consider (remember last week? Just 2 weeks ago life was so simple). We would normally think that with our loss to the Colts on Sunday, we want them to win their division so that we don’t have a Head-to-Head scenario. However, as fate has it, due to a lesser known Tiebreaker rule we have a scenario in front of us where their Head-to-Head win over us would NOT end up even counting against us. Weird, right? For the details, check down below as we’ll break this down for you – for now, just know that because of it, it’s possible we actually end the season with the #5 Seed.
► LIONS (5-8) at Titans (9-4)   [Sunday @ 10:00am PST]
— The Titans situation is identical to the Colts, mentioned above. Basically, if the Titans & Colts can pick up a couple L’s, there’s no real loss to us (the Titans would take their division, and we’d have a scenario where we are able to edge out the Colts because of how some lesser known playoff tiebreaker procedures work – see: below).
                In-the-Hunt Competition:
► JAGUARS (1-12) at Ravens (8-5)   [Sunday @ 10:00am PST]
— We can dream, right? If the ferocious Jags could somehow beat the Ravens, it would help start to create some distance between us and the Ravens. Not only that, but it would be a Conference loss for the Ravens, which would be important in most common tiebreaker scenarios. This is obviously the least realistic outcome we’re hoping for this week, but, we’re looking for outcomes that yield the most paths to the playoffs.

The Colts vs Titans Situation:

There’s a lesser known Tiebreaker procedure where, if at the end of the season there’s a 3+ Way Tie between teams (ex: Raiders, Colts, Ravens) then the Head-to-Head loss to the Colts would NOT count. This is because when there’s a tie involving 3 or more teams, the NFL essentially figures that unless all of the teams faced each other, there’s no way to determine who’s the best.

For example: The Colts beat us, but the Ravens beat the Colts in Week 9.. but we never played the Ravens, so in the NFL’s eyes, “What if the Raiders would’ve beat the Ravens?” Then we would be ‘better’ than the Ravens, who were better than the Colts. Ridiculous, right? So they actually throw out Head-to-Head unless all of the teams in the triangle (or square if 4 teams) played each other.

So what do they do, then? They look at CONFERENCE WIN % to break the tie!
And, what do you know? If we win out, we would end 8-4 vs AFC Teams and barring pretty crummy luck, would be all but guaranteed a playoff spot.
Thus, there are numerous scenarios after this week where if the above happen and we win out, we end up with a playoff spot.
Even if a few things don’t fall our way (like the Ravens beating the Jags), because of the above Tiebreaker rule (and the more common ones), we will have numerous paths to the playoffs. 

And we’ll be here to guide you through the complicated scenarios, breaking them down to tell you the best outcomes possible.

One last bonus piece of information before we go:
• What’s the HIGHEST SEED POSSIBLE coming out of this week?  =  #7 Seed
• If lady luck has no feelings for us, how bad could things get?     =  #9 Seed

None of this will mean anything however if we don’t take care of business.
We need to win out, first.
We need to… JUST WIN, BABY!