NFL Playoff Format 2013: Explaining Wild Card Scenarios and Tiebreakers
Christmas keeps children up all night as they dream of the presents in the morning. The NFL playoffs are no different for every NFL fan.
Unfortunately, the playoffs also have some seriously convoluted scenarios to determine who gets to play golf and who has to keep working.
Luckily, I'm here for you. I've sat down and sifted through every possible scenario to figure out who can get a Wild Card and who can't.
Click here to look through the NFL tie-breaking procedures on your own, or click through to find out how they relate to this year's candidates without having to do any math.
AFC Wild Card Picture
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The AFC is organized. I mean scary organized.
Like "the girl who has a binder color coded with her wedding venues, engagement rings and reception DJs before she goes on her first date" organized.
The Indianapolis Colts are the fifth seed and the Cincinnati Bengals are the sixth. The Colts are one game ahead in the standings, and even if they lose that game this weekend, they will stay in their current slot.
Because they would both have the same conference record (would be 7-5 in this scenario), the NFL would go to record against common foes. Indy gets the leg up by virtue of their 4-1 record against Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami and Kansas City.
San Francisco 49ers
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That's right. The fearsome San Francisco 49ers could be playing on the road in the first weekend of the postseason tournament.
If the Seattle Seahawks win and the San Francisco 49ers lose, the Niners will be traveling to Washington or Dallas.
Granted, the odds of San Francisco falling to the Arizona Cardinals are slim, but we need to cover all bases. Especially in today's NFL, anything is on the table.
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Robert Griffin III is not assured of postseason play in his rookie season, but he has two different possibilities.
If the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys, they're in as NFC East Champions. No muss, no fuss.
If they lose, they are going to require some outside assistance.
They would need the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears to lose. Thus, both teams would finish with seven loses.
The Skins would beat out both of the above-mentioned squads due to a better conference record (7-5). They would also beat out the New York Giants thanks to a better divisional record (4-2).
Don't worry. It gets weirder.
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The Seattle Seahawks will be dancing this postseason, we just haven't cemented where yet.
As mentioned in the Niners slide, they have an outside chance for the NFC West title. Anytime you're counting on the Cardinals, "outside chance" is a kind description.
Otherwise, they have the fifth seed locked up. They beat the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears in head-to-head games, and those are the only other wild-card teams who can get to 10 wins.
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There isn't a whole lot of room for error for the Minnesota Vikings.
Win, and they're in.
Lose, and they're likely done.
The Vikings hold the tiebreaker over the Chicago Bears because they would be 4-2 in the NFC North with a win, while the Bears can only reach 3-3.
If both teams lose, then everything will turn on the NFC East.
First, the Vikings need the New York Giants to lose because New York's 8-4 conference record would beat out the Vikings' 6-6 mark. Then, they would need the Washington Redskins to knock off the Dallas Cowboys since the Redskins already have seven conference wins.
Told you it was going to get weird.
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We've now reached the prayer portion of the slideshow. The Chicago Bears cannot reach the postseason without some help.
First, they must win. They have no choice here because the Minnesota Vikings, who have the same 8-6 record, have a better divisional record.
Then, they need the Vikings to lose.
That is the only way the Bears get a shot.
New York Giants
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There are no shortcuts for the defending champs.
Heck, there aren't any paths to the postseason for the New York Giants that don't include four different twists.
For the Giants to make the postseason, they have to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. That's the easy part.
Then, they need the Washington Redskins to knock off the Dallas Cowboys. The Green Bay Packers must follow up that effort with a win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Finally, the Giants will be relying on the Detroit Lions to beat the Chicago Bears. As a Lions fan, I can assure you that relying on the Lions is the quickest way to heartbreak.
Oh, you want the reasoning?
First off, no team in the playoffs will have more than seven losses. Thus, they have to win.
Second, they need the Vikings and Bears to fall to seven losses so they can beat them on conference record. The same goes for the Cowboys.
Under any other scenario, the Giants go home early.