30 December 2012

Victory Weighting: Liveblogging NFL Week 17

If it's the last week of the NFL regular season, then it's time to look at how Victory Weighting would affect the playoff races.

13:03 CST:  Here are the deviations going into today's action.  Early games launched an hour ago; late games start in the 15:25 window.  Dallas and Washington meet in the season finale, which kicks off at 19:30.
  1. The biggest change impacts the NFC East and wild-card races.  Officially, they're messily linked, as two NFC East teams can qualify for the playoffs.  With Victory Weighting, though, the two races are separate:
    • Only one team will qualify from the NFC East.  While the New York Giants (31 Strength) and Dallas (30 Strength) can each win the division, neither can catch Chicago (37 Strength) for the last wild-card slot.  Washington (35 Strength) can, but doing so would first earn the NFC East title.  Tonight's Dallas-Washington game will still determine the NFC East champion, but if the Giants win today, then Dallas becomes their proxy tonight.
    • Consequently, the second wild-card race is between just Chicago and Minnesota (35 Strength).  The Bears would clinch with a win, rendering the later Minnesota-Detroit game academic.
  2. Houston (Strength 46) can secure one of the AFC first-round byes with a win in the early stage, but in Victory Weighting, that wouldn't be enough to clinch the top seed.  For that to happen, Denver (Strength 48) would have to lose in the late state.  [The official standings give Houston the inside track.]
  3. New England (Strength 43) can't win the AFC top seed (as is officially possible), but can still secure the #2 seed and its associated first-round bye.
  4. The San Francisco-Seattle race in the NFC West race is the same, with one wrinkle:  Victory Weighting would lock Seattle into a first-round game.  The Seahawks (Strength 39) would then be fighting just to stay at home next week.
  5. Finally, Victory Weighting would leave Indianapolis (Strength 39) and Cincinnati (Strength 36) fighting for wild-card position.  [Officially, the Colts are locked into the #5 position, and the Bengals are locked at #6.]
14:56:  (New York Giants 42-7 Philadelphia) The Giants' regulation win eliminates Dallas from the Victory Weighted playoffs.  If Dallas wins tonight in regulation, the Giants would win the NFC East title (and its sole playoff spot).

15:02:  (Indianapolis 28-26 Houston) The plummeting Texans' loss hands Denver the AFC high seed, and puts New England in position to steal a first-round bye with a win.  Meanwhile, Indianapolis cements the #5 seed.  [Officially, the Broncos would still have to win to secure the high seed, as New England remains eligible for that honor.]

15:07:  (Detroit 24-26 Chicago) It's almost all over in the NFC, as the Bears wrap up the second NFC Victory Weighted wild card.  The Vikings-Packers game would have meaning for only Green Bay, as Minnesota would be out of the playoffs.  [Officially, this eliminates the Giants, while the Bears remain on the bubble.]

15:24:  (Cincinnati 23-17 Baltimore) This result locks both teams' Victory Weighted playoff positions.  Because the Ravens and Bengals (both Strength 40) own the #4 and #6 seeds, respectively, they wouldn't meet next week in the first round.  Instead, the Ravens will host Indianapolis in the first round, while the Bengals wait to see where their punched tickets will lead them.

18:14:  (Denver 38-3 Kansas City) The Broncos clinch the AFC high seed... .

18:22:  (San Francisco 27-13 Arizona) The 49ers wrap up the NFC second seed, forcing Seattle into a road date next week.  Meanwhile, Green Bay will host a first-round game as the NFC's #3 seed.

18:31:  (New England 28-0 Miami) ... and the Patriots grab the other AFC bye.  Houston is stuck with the #3 seed and a home game next week against Cincinnati.  [At this point, the standard and Victory Weighted AFC playoff scenarios are identical.]

18:44:  (Minnesota 37-34 Green Bay)  Under Victory Weighting, this wouldn't affect the NFC playoffs, as Chicago would have already clinched the last playoff bid.  In the real world, though, these two teams meet again next week in Wisconsin, the Vikings having eliminated the Bears.  [Jon Gruden to Chicago, maybe?]

18:48:  (Seattle 20-13 St. Louis)  The Seahawks, as NFC fifth seeds are headed to the East Coast for the first round, but they don't know exactly where, yet.

Final update, 00:17, 31 December 2012:  (Washington 28-18 Dallas)  A Dallas win would have created a second Victory Weighted deviation in the playoff schedule (the officially eliminated Giants would have won the division).  But Washington won instead, so there's only one change in either the lineup or the seedings.

Here, then, are the playoffs.  The sole officially-sanctioned deviation is scratched out.

Byes: (1)Atlanta, (2)San Francisco
First round: (5)Seattle at (4)Washington; (6)Minnesota Chicago at (3)Green Bay


Byes: (1)Denver, (2)New England
First round: (5)Indianapolis at (4)Baltimore; (6)Cincinnati at (3)Houston

05 December 2012

Tuesday Night Football: Outrages big and small

On the Belcher-Perkins incident:  Unless the Kansas City Star completely made up this account of Saturday's murder-suicide, there's not much to be said.  It affected not only two families, but also the Kansas City Chiefs.  [Jovan Belcher played for them, but had he married Kassandra Perkins, he would have become an in-law to a much better known Chief, running back Jamaal Charles.]

Take the names away, though, and the murder-suicide becomes just another domestic-violence case gone horribly wrong.  Take away the guns and the entitled-jock mentality, both of which factored into the incident, and what's left is this:

Where did Jovan Belcher get the idea that he could "resolve" domestic dispute by shooting his way out of it?

There's another question about the lesser offense that followed Saturday's shootings:  What on Earth made the Chiefs decide to play on Sunday?  Was there a ripped-from-the-headlines script that just had to be sold to Hollywood producers?  Were they just hoping to avoid dealing with the fact that on of their own had become a murder (and a cowardly one, at that)?  Or were they just hoping to avoid having to deal with grief, full stop?  Whatever the excuses, it would have been better to postpone the game for at least a few days.

And now, something even more predictable than The Walking Dead:  Here in my corner of the world, there was also amusement at the possibility that the Northern Illinois gridiron team would actually get invited to one of the five major bowl games this season.  For kicks, I decided to watch ESPN's BCS selection show to see if NIU got in.  The Huskies did, indeed, win an invitation to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

The outrage among the ESPN college-football commentariat was incredible, but I still can't decide why.  Was it incredible because the reaction was so (a) intense or (b) asinine?

Naw, check that.  I can decide, and the answer is (b) -- because everyone who's criticizing NIU's selection should have seen it coming.  For its entire existence, the whole BCS selection process has rested on the assumption that there were exactly six conferences that were automatically worthy of consideration for either the national championship or one of the elite bowl games.  That presumption never worked, because the Big East was never elite, but the administrative eliminations of Ohio State and Penn State also made the Big Twelve Fourteen Ten irrelevant this year.  Of course spots would be open for two lesser programs to reach a BCS bowl.  After Wisconsin took one of them, the only outstanding question was whether that lesser program would be Northern Illinois or Nebraska.

By the way, if the Huskies (good luck to them) do somehow win the Orange Bowl, it will be their greatest victory, but not their greatest upset.