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