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Week 16 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots try to lock up homefield

Week 16 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots try to lock up homefield

This is my 25th year handling the NFL playoff scenarios for the league and it never gets old, especially when you have exciting, meaningful games in the last three weeks of the season. 

This past week was no exception, as we had thrilling finishes for the early Sunday games with massive tiebreaker implications. It looks like we will have some great games next week as well. 

Most of America wakes up to playoff scenarios right about now, when more teams start clinching playoff spots and others are eliminated. We also have a lot of misinformation in the playoff scenarios market — including ESPN and others saying Carolina was eliminated this past Sunday and they are still alive heading into Monday Night Football — as everyone tries to figure out their favorite team's situation.

The time between Week 15 and 16 is usually the most interesting since we have many clinching scenarios and questions about what needs to happen over the last two weeks for "my team to get in."

Before we get to Week 16, let's recap Week 15.

Going into the week, we had 26 teams alive for 12 playoff spots with Dallas as the only team that had clinched a playoff berth. Twenty-six teams alive with three weeks to play was the most since 2004 and the third most in the NFL since 1990. The week started on Thursday as Seattle clinched the NFC West Division title by beating the Los Angeles Rams. 

Then, Saturday night's Miami win over the hapless New York Jets eliminated the San Diego Chargers, and it forced New England to win on Sunday to clinch the division. 

On Sunday, we saw Cincinnati and Philadelphia eliminated from the playoffs with their losses in the early window, while New England clinched the AFC East Division title and a first-round playoff bye and Oakland clinched a playoff berth in the afternoon. In addition, Arizona was eliminated from the playoffs with their loss.

On Monday Night, if Washington wins, that will eliminate both Carolina and New Orleans and put the Redskins back in the lead for the NFC's No. 6-seed. So during Week 15, we had three more playoff spots clinched for a total of four-of-12 spots taken and at least four more teams eliminated leaving 22 — or 20 if Washington wins — total teams left in Super Bowl contention.

QUIZ TIME: The New England Patriots have won their eighth consecutive division title — an NFL record. Which team won seven straight division titles in the 1970's? Answer Below.

 WEEK 16 OFFICIAL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 

WEEK 16 NFC PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
CLINCHED: Dallas Cowboys — playoff berth. Seattle Seahawks — division title.
ELIMINATED: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles.

Dallas Cowboys:
— Cowboys clinch NFC East division title and homefield advantage throughout playoffs: 
    1) DAL win or tie
    2) NYG loss or tie

Seattle Seahawks:
— Seahawks clinch a first-round bye:
    1) SEA win + DET loss + ATL loss or tie

New York Giants:
— Giants clinch a playoff berth:
    1) NYG win or tie
    2) DET loss or tie
    3) GB loss or tie
    4) TB loss or tie
    5) ATL loss 

Detroit Lions:
— Lions clinch NFC North division title:
    1) DET win + GB loss or tie
    2) DET tie + GB loss
   
— Lions clinches a playoff berth:
    1) DET win + TB loss or tie
    2) DET tie + TB loss
    3) DET tie + TB tie + ATL win
    4) WAS loss or tie + TB loss + ATL win or tie

Atlanta Falcons:
— Falcons clinch NFC South Division title:
    1) ATL win + TB loss or tie
    2) ATL tie + TB loss

— Falcons clinch a playoff berth:
    1) ATL win + ATL clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DET
    2) ATL win or tie + GB loss or tie
    3) ATL win + DET loss or tie
    4) ATL tie + DET tie 
    5) WAS loss or tie + GB loss 
    6) WAS loss or tie + GB tie + DET loss 

Green Bay Packers:
— Packers clinch a playoff berth:
    1) GB win + WAS loss + TB loss + ATL win or tie + GB clinches 
          strength of victory tiebreaker over TB 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
— Buccaneers clinch a playoff berth:
    1) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS loss
    2) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS tie + TB clinches strength of victory
        tiebreaker over DET

 

Week 16 AFC PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
CLINCHED: New England Patriots — division title and first-round bye. Oakland Raiders— playoff berth.
ELIMINATED: Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, N Jets, San Diego, Cincinnati.

New England Patriots:
— Patriots clinch homefield advantage throughout AFC Playoffs:
    1) NE win + OAK loss or tie
    2) NE tie + OAK loss

Oakland Raiders:
— Raiders clinch AFC West Division title and a first-round bye:
    1) OAK win + KC loss or tie
    2) OAK tie + KC loss

Pittsburgh Steelers:
— Steelers clinch AFC North Division title:
    1) PIT win

Kansas City Chiefs:
— Chiefs clinch a playoff berth:
    1) KC win or tie
    2) BAL loss or tie

Houston Texans:
— Texans clinch AFC South Division title:
    1) HOU win + TEN loss

Miami Dolphins:
— Miami clinches a playoff berth:
    1) MIA win + DEN loss or tie
    2) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss or tie
    3) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + TEN loss or tie
 

WEEK 16 TIEBREAKER NOTES AND ANECDOTES:

  • If Washington wins MNF, we have the possibility of all 12 playoff spots being clinched during Week 16. It would be DAL, SEA, DET, ATL, NYG and WAS in NFC and NE, OAK, PIT, HOU, KC and MIA in the AFC.
  • CAROLINA is still alive for the playoffs going into MNF (contrary to many media reports). Here's what they need:
  1. CAR wins out
  2. TB loses out
  3. MIN beats GB and loses to CHI
  4. GB loses to DET
  5. NO loses to ATL
  6. WAS loses to CAR then loses one game and ties the other
  7. CAROLINA beats TB within division on conf record 7-5 to 6-6 (they tie in common opponents 6-6)
  8. Sets up 3-way tie for No. 6 seed between 7-7-2 (= 8-8) WAS, 8-8 MIN and 8-8 CAR
  9. They are all 1-1 in head-to-head play
  10. CAROLINA claims No. 6 seed based on better conference record (7-5 vs. WAS 5-6-1 and MIN 5-7)
  • Many more notes to come after Monday night

QUIZ ANSWER: The Los Angeles Rams won the NFC Western Division title from 1973 to 1979 and saw their streak end in 1980 when the 12-4 Atlanta Falcons bested the 11-5 Rams for the division championship.  Yes, the Atlanta Falcons were in the NFC "West" from the Conference's formation in 1970 until NFL Realignment in 2002.

 

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS FOLLOWING WEEK 15

NFC PLAYOFFS

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. Seattle Seahawks
  3. Atlanta Falcons
  4. Detroit Lions
  5. New York Giants
  6. Washington Redskins

AFC  PLAYOFFS              

  1. New England Patriots        
  2. Kansas City Chiefs        
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers        
  4. Tennessee Titans           
  5. Oakland Raiders            
  6. Miami Dolphins           

Enjoy Week 16 and best of luck to your favorite team!

MORE NFL: Redskins are in control of playoff destiny

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Terry McLaurin expects Scott Turner to increase Washington's offensive tempo in 2020

Terry McLaurin expects Scott Turner to increase Washington's offensive tempo in 2020

On defense, Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio are emphasizing an approach that's heavy on attacking. They want their personnel moving upfield and playing with aggression, something Montez Sweat became just the latest to reference on Thursday.

They aren't the only side of the ball in Washington that's trying to be more assertive, though.

Also on Thursday, Terry McLaurin explained that he thinks the offense will be speeding things up in 2020 as they, too, aim to gain more control of every game.

"I feel like when you’re on offense, you should be dictating the tempo," the star receiver told reporters on Zoom. "You should decide when you guys get up to the line, when you’re snapping the play, when you’re calling audibles and running motions and things like that."

A major instigator of that change, according to McLaurin, will be new offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

"It’s just some things that Turner does a great thing on, that versatility and unpredictability," he said. "I’m really excited to see his style of play calling and how it works."

That type of plan could really aid a unit that's coming off a season where it was the NFL's worst at putting up points and entering a season where expectations aren't much higher. For a bunch that's slated to feature a second-year signal caller and set to surround him with a mostly very young supporting cast, picking up the pace will be useful.

And it's something Turner is already discussing. A lot.

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"I have heard Coach Turner speak numerous occasions on having some tempo in the way we get in the huddle, the way we get the play so the quarterback has enough time to assess what’s going on defensively," McLaurin said.

In evaluating Turner's entire scheme beyond the desire for operating with more speed, McLaurin identified it as a "very concise offense" that doesn't force the players to think too much. If they're not thinking, of course, they can devote more energy to producing. That is what every coach wants to accomplish in their job.

Overall, it wasn't surprising to hear McLaurin bring optimism to his presser with the media, because he's an optimistic person to begin with and August is not the time to touch on the shortcomings of one's team. 

Even so, as McLaurin was describing the mentality that Turner is instilling on his group, it was fun to, just for a moment, consider an outcome where things do click and they do take opponents by surprise.

At the very minimum, he laid out a compelling picture of how it could all come together.

"Just that attack mindset, it starts obviously up front with how we run the ball with Adrian Peterson and the group of guys we have on the offensive line, and then our skill players we have on the outside making plays, and I feel like that really opens up our offense because I feel like you can’t really key in on one thing or the other," he said. 

Having that vision and introducing that vision beginning on September 13 are two very different tasks, but the vision on its own is a promising one. In 2019, Washington was both lifeless and toothless with the ball. In 2020, they should at least improve in one of those areas.

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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Report: Seahawks cut CB Kemah Siverand for attempting to sneak woman into team hotel

Report: Seahawks cut CB Kemah Siverand for attempting to sneak woman into team hotel

As NFL training camps open, teams are taking every protective measure to ensure player safety. Extensive testing protocols agreed upon by the NFL and the NFLPA and daily testing until at least September 5 prove safety is the league's number one priority.

But in order for the NFL's plans to work, players have to do their part

On Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks cut rookie cornerback Kemah Siverand after he was caught trying to sneak a female visitor into the team hotel, according to Tom Pelissero. Siverand and the woman, who was wearing Seattle gear in an attempt to disguise herself as a Seahawks player, were both caught on camera.

The Seahawks' quick action shows how serious teams are handling COVID-19 protocols. Head coach Pete Carroll is sending a clear message that actions that put the entire team at risk will not be tolerated.  

Fans got a glimpse of what the NFL's safety protocols were like during Hard Knocks this week. The quick decision to cut Siverand shows that irresponsible action won't be tolerated as the NFL season approaches.

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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