We didn’t get quite into examining the playoff picture, but here’s how we normally do it. We look at the rankings, and find the highest ranked team from each division, and then the remaining two highest ranked teams from each conference. For Week 17 (before 17’s games), the playoff picture looks like this:
1. NY Jets: They look guaranteed to be the highest ranking team in the AFC East no matter what this weekend’s outcomes.
2. Tennessee: A collection of strong beatwins has them pretty solidly in control. If they lose this weekend, they’ll be closely ranked alongside Indianapolis, but still most likely ahead.
3. Pittsburgh: If they lose, it will be close between them and Baltimore, but still most likely ahead.
4. Denver: You have to go way down the rankings to find Denver, but they look guaranteed to be the highest-ranking AFC West team.
5. Indianapolis: Actually ranked ahead of Pittsburgh and Denver.
6. Baltimore: Still ranked ahead of Denver.
Other AFC Teams ranked ahead of Denver currently: Houston, Cincinnati (!!), New England.
1. NY Giants: Yep, still New York and New York.
2. Minnesota: This has been a real under-the-radar team to me, but maybe I just haven’t been paying enough attention. Note, they are ranked behind Baltimore, the AFC’s #6 seed.
3. Carolina: Ranked behind Cincinnati.
4. Arizona: Ranked just ahead of Denver.
5. Dallas: Actually ranked ahead of Carolina.
6. Washington: Ranked ahead of Arizona (and Denver).
Other NFC Teams ranked ahead of Arizona: Atlanta.
So there you have it – the teams screwed by the Western Divisions are Houston, Cincinnati, New England, and Atlanta. But it looks like the NFL’s playoff system will screw other teams even more.