NFL: the play-off picture with one game left

As well as this weekend marking the introduction of a fresh new year, it also marks the culmination of what has been an exciting regular season in the NFL.

Although having secured a play-off berth, the New York Giants could do with winning in Oakland tomorrow night to ensure that they win their division, giving them third or fourth seeding out of the six NFC qualifiers. A loss would open the door for Washington to win the division, giving the Giants a more difficult ride in the play-offs. To complete the New York side of the picture, the Jets’ season was over long ago: they are now propping up the AFC East with a 3-12 record.

Denver (12-3) have clinched the AFC West, and their conference record of 9-2 means that they are guaranteed second seeding in the AFC play-offs behind Indianapolis, both of whom will have a weekend off on 7/8 January as a result. A win for Cincinnati would ensure that they pip New England to third. However, with Cincinnati travelling to Kansas and New England hosting Miami, I think that neither result will favour Cincinnati, and New England will claim third spot.

Currently, the New York Giants, Chicago and Seattle have secured play-off berths in the NFC, with Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina chasing the other three. In the AFC, New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Denver are secure. The final place is being chased by Pittsburgh, San Diego and Kansas City.

In the event of any ties in records, here are the rules for determining the relative positions of any two or more teams. It’s good to see that if all else fails, a coin toss is the answer.

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