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Old 12-19-2006, 04:23 AM   #1
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Default Conference record is holding Steelers back

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The path to the playoffs is a simple one for the Steelers: They must win their final two games and virtually every other team in contention must lose.

Simple, just not likely.

The Steelers damaged their playoff hopes in the first two months of the season, when they bumbled along like an expansion team rather than the defending Super Bowl champs. Not only did they lose six of their first eight, they lost to AFC teams, including a stunner to the pathetic Oakland Raiders.

The fact that most of their losses came against teams in their conference is holding them back even if they wind up winning seven of their final eight games.

Throw out any current team with 10 victories and it leaves eight fighting for the other two playoff spots. The Steelers (7-7) can win no more than nine games and there are four other teams in the wild-card hunt who could still reach 10 -- Cincinnati, Denver, Jacksonville and the New York Jets.

In addition, the Steelers find themselves behind the Buffalo Bills (7-7), who have a better record in the conference and that will become an important tiebreaker. If the Steelers and Bills finish 9-7, Buffalo would have the edge based on a better record in the AFC.

The Steelers' situation is so tenuous that their demise could come from anywhere. One place where it won't come from is Kansas City, because the Steelers would beat out the Chiefs based on their 45-7 victory against them this season or, in the case of ties involving three or more teams, their record against AFC teams.

The NFL tiebreaking procedures can be complicated, but basically if there's a tie involving two teams, the league follows this procedure until the tie is broken: 1. head-to-head; 2. record within the conference (record within a division comes first if the teams are in the same division); 3. Record in common games, minimum of four; 4. Strength of victory (combined record of opponents in games won); 5. Strength of schedule (combined record of all opponents).

There are others, but it rarely gets beyond the third or fourth tiebreaker.

Similar tiebreaking procedures apply if there are three or more teams tied with the same record except division ties are broken first.

The Steelers could get knocked out of the playoffs if certain teams win even though those teams would not have guaranteed themselves a playoff spot by winning.

For example, another win by Denver would give the Broncos a 9-6 record and not necessarily guarantee them a playoff spot because, for example, the Jets and Jaguars could still finish with 10 wins. But it would hurt the Steelers' chances because another Denver win guarantees the Broncos finish ahead of the Steelers in any wild-card race based on their nine wins and better record in the AFC.

Indianapolis' 34-16 victory against the Bengals last night held keen interest for the Steelers. A Bengals victory would have knocked the Steelers out of at least one of the two wild-card playoff spots available.

Wild possibility

Here are the teams with fewer than 10 victories that are competing with the Steelers for the two wild-card playoff berths, their record (their record against AFC teams) and their remaining schedule:

Cincinnati 8-6 (6-4)
Lost at Indianapolis last night, at Denver, Steelers.

New York Jets 8-6 (5-5)
at Miami, Oakland.

Buffalo 7-7 (5-5)
Tennessee, at Baltimore.

Jacksonville 8-6 (5-5)
New England, at Kansas City

Tennessee 7-7 (4-6)
at Buffalo, New England

Denver 8-6 (7-4)
Cincinnati, San Francisco

Steelers 7-7 (4-6)
Baltimore, at Cincinnati
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Old 12-19-2006, 07:05 AM   #2
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

It's going to be tough and seems almost impossible at this point with all of the formulas, but as long as there is a smidgen of hope, I'm hanging on and preparing myself for another wild ride!
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

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It's going to be tough and seems almost impossible at this point with all of the formulas, but as long as there is a smidgen of hope, I'm hanging on and preparing myself for another wild ride!
I'm hanging right on that coaster with ya! It aint over till it's over!!!!
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

Man some of those games early in the season that we should have had...
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

lets just focus on winning our next two games..and go from there
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

Cincinnati 8-6 (6-4)
at Denver, Steelers--Could happen. And if they beat Denver we root for the 49ers in Week 17. Only bad news is the head to head matchup here means oneof those teams has to beat us unless there's a tie.

New York Jets 8-6 (5-5)
at Miami, Oakland--We're counting on Aaron Brooks. Ugh. If they lose to Miami and beat Oakland it gets REALLY complicated--both teams are 6-6 in conference and I don't think common opponents would break the tie since they lost to Cleveland and we lost to Oakland.

Buffalo 7-7 (5-5)
Tennessee, at Baltimore--Geaux Tennessee. Baltimore can take care of it too but I like to have it out of the way.

Jacksonville 8-6 (5-5)
New England, at Kansas City--Not a farfetched scenario.

Tennessee 7-7 (4-6)
at Buffalo, New England--Already taken care of. We have the thumbtacks on common opponents.

Denver 8-6 (7-4)
Cincinnati, San Francisco--Cincy game already discussed. SF isn't good but they can win.

Steelers 7-7 (4-6)
Baltimore, at Cincinnati--All scenarios assume we take care of our part.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

Correction to above (geesh, this is complicated): We're Denver fans this weekend because ties are broken within the division first, so it's more important to beat the Bungholes outright than the Broncos.

Common games now goes aheadof conference record within the division. Bungholes are 2-2 against the NFC South, 2-1 against the AFC West, split with the ratbirds, and swept the clowns. We're 3-1 against the NFC South, 1-3 against the AFC West, swept the Clowns, and split with the ratbirds (assuming we win out). That would be a wash and send it to conference record, and another bunghole win would be their 7th AFC win which beats our 6-6 conference record.

Our common opponents with the Jets: Jacksonville (both lost), Miami (both won, they play Miami again this weekend), Cleveland (they lost, we swept, they were at Cleveland if that makes a difference), Oakland (we lost, they play them week 17). Right now we're 3-2 and New York is 1-2. A split would give us a better record.

What's not clear is if we count Cleveland twice and they count Miami twice or if the"common game" depends on the location, ie they only count at Miami and we only count at Cleveland. That would make us 2-2 and them 1-2, and a Jets victory over Oakland would make this a tie.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:32 AM   #8
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

I would be satisfied if we keep the Bungles OUT of the playoffs, regardless of whether we make it or not.
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

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Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
, but as long as there is a smidgen of hope, I'm hanging on and preparing myself for another wild ride!
Now that what I`m talking about! Gotta have Faith!
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Conference record is holding Steelers back

At this point I'd rather lose our last two games and get a higher pick if we are indeed going to be eliminated.
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