Week 11 Mailbag

Welcome to our weekly mailbag post! If you have any questions for future posts, feel free to send us a message here!

Jessica R:

What is the soonest Dallas could control the 1 seed and how would that happen?

DAL could control the 1 seed as early as week 13. To do that, they would need:
1) DAL wins weeks 11 & 12
2) PHI loses weeks 11 & 12
3) SF loses at least one of week 11 or 12

DAL winning out gives PHI their 2nd loss, DET a 3rd loss, and SEA a 4th loss. PHI would end up taking the 14-3 tiebreaker over DAL on common games if they only lost week 11 to KC, and conference record if they lost only week 12, so DAL needs them to lose both. SF would have a better conference record than DAL and a head-to-head win at 14-3, so DAL also needs them to drop a game. Once that happens, only DET & DAL would be left at 14-3, and DAL would have the head-to-head.


Sarah N:

When is the earliest a team could clinch their division?

Due to no team completely dominating their division (KC is the furthest with a 2.5 win lead), no divisions can be clinched until week 14 at the earliest.


Harrison K:

Who is going to be the first team eliminated from playoff contention?

I don’t speak to what will or will not happen, but NYG & ARI could possibly have scenarios as early as Week 12. CAR cannot because they cannot be knocked out of their division in week 12.



If all these teams are 6-3, then what is the tiebreaker between all of them? You have the division tiebreakers up but not why JAX & MIA are ranked higher than the AFC north teams.

Division winners are the top 4 seeds. BAL is the division winner, which means that PIT & CLE cannot be higher than the 5 seed. Thus, there is no need to break a tie between them and the division winners.



Oliver R:

With Kyler Murray back, if the Cards went on a run to end the season, what would need to happen for them to make the playoffs?

Realistically, SF or SEA will win their division. The main competition for ARI will be whichever of those doesn’t win the division, DET/MIN, and DAL. ARI needs to get past one.

We’ll leave out the results needed from TB/WAS/ATL/GB/LAR/CHI/NYG/CAR, as it’s fairly trivial to get all of them to 9 losses (or some select teams to only 8 losses). So the realistic look is getting past the existing 5-7 seeds: DAL, MIN, and SEA.

1) ARI wins out
2) NYG/ATL/TB/GB/CHI/WAS/CAR reach 9 losses (not unrealistic, and too many permutations to list out)
3) One of the following:
  3a) DAL loses 5 of their last 8 games
  3b) MIN loses 5 of thier last 7 games
  3c) SEA loses 5 of their last 7 non-ARI games
  3d) SEA loses 2 of their remaining non-ARI division games + 2 non-division games

It’s definitely a tall order, but not impossible. There are other possibilities if DET or PHI completely implode, but this is by far the easiest way.


Eduardo O:

When is the earliest that Detroit could possible clinch a spot? I see some places saying that Philly could clinch a spot as early as next week so wondering is 9 the magic number for nfc? Also how early could Detroit move into 1 seed?

First, let me set the record straight with PHI, as I have seen this assertion from multiple places. PHI cannot clinch a playoff berth until week 13 at the earliest. They could clinch a top 8 seed in week 12, but they could still lose tiebreakers to get to the 7 seed. Also, magic numbers are pretty useless this early in the season, as there are just too many considerations, and too many teams the magic number would have to be compared against.

To answer your last question, week 13 is the first week DET could start 1st in the standings (end of week 12 going into week 13). The earliest DET could clinch the 1 seed would be week 15, but that’s exceedingly unlikely.

As for the earliest DET could clinch, DET, like PHI, could clinch by week 13. DET would clinch on record alone if the following happen:
1) DET wins weeks 11, 12, and 13
2) TB loses weeks 11, 12, and 13
3) ATL loses weeks 12 and 13
4) WAS loses 2 games from weeks 11 to 13
5) LAR loses 2 games from weeks 11 to 13
6) GB loses a game from weeks 11 to 13

That would force 9 teams to 8 losses, and put DET at 10 wins, clinching on record alone. There are other ways they could clinch using a combination of record and tiebreakers, but those are really hard to flesh out 3 weeks in advance, so record alone is the safest was to approach it.



Rushaan S:

Is there any way for Giants to grab the 1 seed?

The main 2 things that really help NYG out is that 4 of their losses are non-conference losses, and that they still play WAS & PHI twice. Despite being swept by DAL, that gives them some strength in their division.

So given that, the easiest path for NYG to make the playoffs is:
1) NYG wins out
2) PHI defeats DAL & loses their other games
3) SF & SEA beat PHI, split their series and lose their remaining games
4) DET sweeps MIN & loses their other games
5) DAL loses 4 of their games vs CAR, WASx2, MIA, & BUF
6) MIN loses 2 games beyond their losses to DET
7) WAS loses another game beyond their loss to NYG
8) NO loses 2 games not covered above
9) TB loses 4 games not covered above
10) ATL loses 3 games not covered above
11) LAR loses a game not covered above
12) GB loses 2 games not covered above
13) CHI loses 2 games not covered above

There are a lot of ways to play out PHI/DAL/SF/SEA and DAL/MIN/DET, but the bottom line is that with PHI at 9-8 sweeping DAL, and DAL hitting 8 losses as described above, DAL will drop out of the 3-way with PHI/NYG on division record (a 4-way with WAS will end up going to PHI/NYG on division record), and then NYG’s sweep of PHI gives the division to NYG. NYG is guaranteed to finish ahead of NO, CAR, DET, LAR, and ARI in any tiebreaker. For the NFC North, we give DET a sweep of MIN because we want MIN to be able to get to 9-8 and still finish behind DET, but the bottom line is that we want DET to win the division at 9-8, however that happens. Other than that, we just need to get NO & CAR to 8 losses and TB/ATL/GB/CHI to 9. It sounds like a lot, but there are a lot of games between NO/TB/ATL/LAR/GB/CHI, so it’s pretty easy to do.