Archive for the ‘Random shit’ Category

For NFL Fans

December 26, 2010

Don’t forget to read the 2009 version. You can read the original version of this on the author’s site.

All right, let’s get this column punched out. A couple nights ago I was up past 1 a.m. proving to myself that the Steelers have clinched their strength-of-victory tiebreakers against the Jaguars and Chargers—so you won’t have to! Please, there’s no need to thank me. But I don’t know that I want to be up past 1 a.m. again.

Q: What’s the big deal about the Steelers’ strength-of-victory tiebreakers? It says in my newspaper they’ve already clinched the playoffs.

A: In your what?

Q: Okay, I wasn’t really reading a newspaper. It was a free website.

A: I thought so. And yes, you observed the little x next to Pit on your favorite website’s standings chart and correctly deduced that the Steelers have clinched the playoffs. However, in their worst-case scenario, where they lose twice and the Chiefs, Chargers, Colts, and Jaguars all win twice and the Ravens and Jets each win at least once, the Steelers wind up in a 3-way tie for the last wild card spot, and that tie is resolved by best strength of victory among the Steelers, Chargers, and Jaguars. In order for the little x to be accurate, it was necessary that the Steelers had already clinched that tiebreaker. So I had to make sure that was true.

Q: You had to?

A: To weed out any flaws in my charts. This is what I do.

Q: Well, what else did you find out?

A: I found out that the Packers have clinched their strength-of-victory tiebreakers against the Buccaneers and Saints. I have a theory that they’ve clinched it against the Giants, too, but I didn’t see the point of proving that.

Q: Of course not. They’re about to play each other this week. Whoever wins that game wins their tiebreaker, head to head. Right?

A: Basically, yes. However, they could finish in a 3-way tie along with either the Bucs or Saints. In that case, it goes to a 3-way strength-of-victory test. It’s clear that the Bucs or Saints can’t win that tiebreaker, but it’s not clear that the Packers have to. I’ll let you fool around with the ESPN.com Playoff Machine, and if you find a scenario where the Giants beat the Packers in strength of victory, let me know.

Q: Oh, that’s neat! Is that Playoff Machine how you calculate your charts?

A: No, I never saw the Playoff Machine until this year. I think it’s new. Also, I don’t have time to run through all 4.3 billion possibilities, not counting ties. (Counting ties, there are 1,853 trillion possibilities—and you know the Answer Man always counts ties!)

Q: So you don’t use this new technology at all?

A: Well, if you click on the comments on the Playoff Machine, you’ll see where some dude called RocketC1980 laid out a scenario where Tampa Bay can win a strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Giants. I took his word for it.

Q: All right. But what about tiebreakers that are actually going to happen?

A: Yes. In tiebreakers that are actually going to happen, the Bears have the advantage over the Eagles for a bye week because of their head-to-head victory Nov. 28. The Eagles have the inside track on the East division because they beat the Giants twice. The Bears have clinched the North because they’ve swept all their division games. The Falcons have not clinched the South because the Saints can attain a better division record. The Saints have not clinched the playoffs because they can be overtaken by the Bucs with a better record against common opponents.

Q: And in the, um, the …?

A: You mean the Division That Must Not Be Named? Three teams have a chance to win that division, even though the three words that best describe those teams are as follows, and I quote: “stink, stank, stunk.” On that topic, let’s take a reader question, passed on to me from “a guy in San Jose.”

He asks: I’m a huge Saints fan. Can I expect to see my favorite team in the playoffs at Candlestick Park?

A: First off, you don’t need an Answer Man to tell you that the Saints are likely to be the 5th seed, nor that the winner of the Division That Must Not Be Named will be the 4th seed. But who will triumphantly crawl out of that division, like the first amoeba from the primordial slime? You’ll be surprised to learn that if the Niners beat the Rams this week, and the Seahawks lose in Tampa, then the Niners will control their own destiny next week! And by the way, thank you for calling it Candlestick Park. We call it that at Answer Man Central too.

Q: You’re aware that the Niners are 5-9 right now? Like, not just more losses than wins, but a lot more losses than wins?

A: Yes, I agree that if they’re playing on Jan. 9, they deserve to be not in the NFL playoffs but up the road at the Kraft Finger Bowl.

Q: Finger Bowl? I assume you meant Fight Hunger Bowl, but Finger Bowl is a better name, actually.

A: I was typing too fast and “Fight Hunger” came out “Finger.” I couldn’t improve on that, so I left it. If I had more sleep, I could’ve worked it into a joke somehow.

Q: Yeah, it’s a pity you couldn’t do anything funny with that. Say, before we rid ourselves of this division, what are the Seahawks’ chances?

A: The Seahawks need to beat the Rams while the Niners lose at least once. If the Niners win twice, then the Seahawks need to win twice. (Not counting ties!) In an interesting quirk, the Niners play an early game Sunday and the Seahawks play a late game. If the Niners lose the early game, then the late game has no meaning to the Seahawks: regardless of the result, the winner of the Seahawks-Rams game in Week 17 would take the division.

Q: All right, let’s break down the AFC now.

A: Do you have a question?

Q: Could you please break down the AFC now?

A: Certainly. We’ll start with who gets the bye weeks. Any one win or tie by the Patriots, or any one loss or tie by the Jets, clinches 1st seed for the Patriots (and restores order to the universe). In general, the East division champion will have the 1st seed, unless the Jets and Ravens win their divisions at 12-4, in which case the Ravens will be 1st and the Jets 2nd. If this exception doesn’t apply, then the North division champion, assuming it has at least 11 wins, will have the 2nd seed.

Q: So the Ravens can win their division at 12-4?

A: Yes, but only if the Steelers don’t finish 12-4. The Ravens lose the tiebreaker based on division record.

Q: It looks like a whole lot of teams could finish 10-6. Can you clarify how those tiebreakers would shake out?

A: First off, if you’re looking at a 2-way tie, see if there was a head-to-head result: Jets over Pittsburgh, Baltimore over Jets, Indy over K.C., San Diego over Indy, and both K.C. and San Diego over Jacksonville. If that doesn’t apply, then eliminate the Chiefs on account of their 6-6 conference record; next, eliminate the Ravens, at 7-5 in the conference. All the other 10-6 teams will be 8-4 in the conference, and further steps will be necessary. In those further steps, the simplest thing I can say is that the Steelers and Jets are well situated and the Jaguars and Chargers aren’t.

Q: So for example, who wins a Colts-Jets tiebreaker?

A: There’s no such thing. At 10-6, the Colts automatically win the division; at 10-6, the Jets (same goes for the Ravens) can do no better than a wild card. A tiebreaker between a division winner and a wild card is meaningless.

Q: Who wins the Colts-Jaguars tiebreaker?

A: In most scenarios, the Colts. However, if the Colts go into Week 17 with a better record than the Jaguars, then the Jaguars would win any tiebreaker based on division record. Also, don’t rule out the Titans.

Q: Why wouldn’t I rule out the Titans? I already did.

A: I can understand that. In the real world, it’s hard to see them winning two road games against good, motivated opponents, when they have no quarterback and quit on their coach 14 months ago. But in my world, where I can’t name five Titans and it’s just math, they could win out. And if they did, they’d win the division if only three other games went their way (Indy at Oakland; Jax vs. Washington and at Houston)—that’s not a lot of outside help to ask for. They’d be in a 3-way tie where all teams are 8-8 overall, 2-2 against each other, 3-3 in the division; the Titans have the best record against common opponents.

Q: Can I at least rule out the Raiders?

A: No, don’t do that either. In the West division, the Chargers hold all the tiebreakers over the Chiefs, but the Raiders hold all the tiebreakers over both of them. In fact, if the Raiders win this week while the Chiefs and Chargers both lose, then the Raiders will control their own destiny! Next week’s Raiders-Chiefs winner would win the division.

Now let’s take a few more reader questions.

Joel from San Jose asks: Was Dan Connolly only tackled because the tackler was the guy he was assigned to block?

A: Isn’t that ironic.

Joel then notes the Raiders’ record and asks: Has a team been undefeated in the division but missed the playoffs/not had a winning record before?

A: I dunno, ask Mike Florio. Gotta believe the answer is no, going back at least 50 or 60 years. Recall that before 2002, a team’s division games composed at least 50%, sometimes over 70%, of its schedule. Nowadays the figure is only 37½%, so while the feat is still improbable, it’s at least imaginable. But let’s see if the Chiefs lose a key game at home on Jan. 2 before we crown the Raiders.

Ben from Chapel Hill asks: How often do teams start games with onside kicks? Has this practice increased in frequency over the past ten years?

A: I dunno, ask Mike Florio. I’d say it can’t increase much in frequency because the tactic depends on surprise, and the less it’s a surprise, the less effective it’ll become.

Gordon from Oakland has several questions, starting with some trivia: What was the last 8-8 team to win their division, then lose their first-round playoff game?

A: I dunno, ask Aaron Schatz.

Q: If the AFC playoff teams end up being NE, NYJ, IND, SD, BAL, and PITT, isn’t that pretty boring?

A: Maybe to you. If I had to hand-pick six AFC teams I wanted to watch in the playoffs, those would be the teams.

Q: Is it possible that the [Division That Must Not Be Named] looks so bad because the divisions they’re playing are really good? Can you graph this?

A: Graph this? No. You can draw your own picture of every team in that division playing the Broncos and the Panthers this year. My theory is that all four teams are simply bad. If you assume that good and bad teams are randomly distributed, and that a quarter of the league is bad, then the chances that 4 of the 8 bad teams would wind up in the same division are … I dunno, ask Mike Shackleford. This will happen by luck once in a while. Did you know that in 2002, the first year with four 8-team divisions, there were two divisions each with no losing teams? And that the same thing happened in 2007?

Q: If a team finishes 7-9 and wins the [D.T.M.N.B.N.], how many sports blowhards’ heads will explode?

A: I’d support a rule change wherein a team would have to win at least 8 games to be “bowl eligible.” If the best team in a division has fewer than 8 wins, then no one makes the playoffs from that division; there are three wild cards, the best of which gets a home game as 4th seed. I don’t take an apocalyptic stance toward the current state of affairs, though, as so many do. While there are tens of thousands of sports blowhards, most of those have no outlet but a pathetic little amateur blog with 14 readers. Therefore, one has to ask: if a sports blowhard’s head explodes, but no one knows about it, does it really explode? This leads me to Gordon’s last question:

Q: Why isn’t this just a blog already?

A: It’s hard to maintain readership on two posts a year. NFL tiebreakers are what I do. What am I going to say about playoff scenarios in September? All 32 teams control their own destiny?

Apropos of nothing, I’ve been listening to “Holly,” the Christmas channel on XM Radio, for three weeks and it dawned on me only today that I hadn’t heard the official Answer Man anthem, Andy Williams’ “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I switched over to “Holiday Traditions” on Channel 4 and heard it within an hour. I’m so old now that when they say, “To hear the Christmas music you grew up with, switch over to Channel 4,” they’re talking to me.

Finally, this column is dedicated to the memory of the official Answer Man mascot, Pepper, who looked like the Panthers’ helmet logo. They finally won a game for her on local Phoenix television last Sunday, and after we put her down the next night, her all-time favorite player had a big game harassing the helpless Vikings offense. It was a fitting tribute.

As always, remember this is copyrighted material but may be freely distributed as long as this notice is preserved. Please freely distribute it. I welcome follow-up questions. Next week: my 23rd annual playoff charts, as I put my 260-0 record on the line. I’m not nervous. But I am tired. I seem to have made it to 1 a.m. again.

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All Girl Summer Fun Band at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, 29 May 2010

June 1, 2010

(WordPress won’t let you embed playlists, so rather than embed 11 videos, just click on this.)

The Cleveland Cavaliers do the Minnesota Timberwolves one better

February 4, 2010

I’m a fan of the T’Wolves because, when one of their players makes both free throws when he’s at the line at the Target Center, they play the coin sound effect from the original Super Mario Bros. Well, guess what they do in Cleveland when the visiting team misses both free throws. That’s right, they play the SMB music that you get when Mario dies.

2009 NFL Viewers Guide

December 31, 2009

2009 Viewers’ Guide
and 22nd Annual Playoff Charts
for games played January 3, 2010
All Times Eastern
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins, Sunday 1:00 (CBS). You may have heard how desperately
complicated the AFC tiebreakers are this year. I’ve seen worse. At first, I too thought they were
complicated—but I was overthinking it. Here’s how simple it is:
Five teams go into the final week at 8-7. If two of them win, those are your wild cards. If three
or more of them win, you have to use tiebreakers. The Jets win all tiebreakers at 9-7, followed by the
Ravens. That’s why those are the two teams that control their own destiny.
Tiebreakers involving Denver, Houston, and Pittsburgh at 9-7 are the only mildly complicated
scenario. Denver beats Houston, Houston beats Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh beats Denver. If all of them
finish 9-7, Denver wins the three-way tiebreaker. That’s why the outcome of a Denver-Pittsburgh
tiebreaker depends on whether Houston wins.
If only one team finishes 9-7, or if none do, then there’s room for other teams. First pick the
8-7-1 team if there is one. In the crazy event that there are multiple 8-7-1 teams, use the same
tiebreakers as at 9-7.
Finally, there may be room for one or two 8-8 teams in the playoffs. At 8-8, Jacksonville wins
all tiebreakers, followed by Denver, followed by Miami. That’s all you need to know, since no other
team can win a meaningful tiebreaker at 8-8. And that’s why Denver is the only current 8-7 team that
can lose and still make the playoffs.
See? It’s simple. Take this game, for instance. The Steelers need to win, obviously. (I’m
ignoring ties for the rest of this Guide lest they disturb the untroubled flow of my graceful prose.)
Then, like several of their competitors, they need to sit back and hope for the Jets or Ravens to lose. If
one of those teams loses, then there is one playoff spot available at 9-7, which the Steelers can claim as
long as Houston loses, no matter how Denver does. If both the Jets and Ravens lose, then there are two
spots available, and the Steelers claim one as long as either Houston or Denver loses. It’s not the
greatest situation to be in, but it could be worse.
For example, they could be the Dolphins, who not only need to win, but need Houston,
Jacksonville, Denver, Baltimore, and the Jets all to lose. All that so they can play next week at New
England.
New England Patriots at Houston Texans, Sunday 1:00 (CBS). The Texans are in a little bit better
situation than the Steelers. They need to win then sit back and hope for the Jets or Ravens to lose;
that’s the same. If the Jets and Ravens both lose and there are two playoff spots available, the Texans
are in at 9-7—they can’t miss. If there is one spot available, the Texans claim it as long as Denver
loses, no matter how Pittsburgh does.
Interestingly, this game could repeat next week, only at New England. The Texans would have
to win, of course, the Jets would have to win too, and the Ravens and Broncos need to lose. This will
be a recurring theme.
The Patriots have to decide if they care about this game’s only significance to them: whether
they get 3rd seed or 4th. Three years ago they wound up with the 4th seed, and failed to protect an
18-point lead in the AFC championship game at the home of the 3rd seed Colts. But what are the
chances that could happen again? Anyway, a win here, whether accidental or on purpose, clinches 3rd
seed for the Patriots, provided they win the strength-of-victory tiebreaker against the Bengals (the math
says they easily will).
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 2
If the Patriots need to convert fourth and 2 in their own end to win the game, they’ll probably
punt. Not because Bill Belichick cares what the media say about him. If he did, he’d have long ago
put on a sweater. And not because he was wrong the last time; he wasn’t. Why then? Because he’d be
a lot less concerned about the Texans’ quarterback, whoever that is [I think it’s Matt Schaub –Ed.],
driving the length of the field than about Peyton Manning doing it.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday 1:00 (Fox). The Vikings—hold on, I need to look
up who their quarterback is—have won their division and once had a shot at home-field advantage
throughout the playoffs. With their recent spate of losses and overheated reports of dissension in the
ranks, now they no longer even control their own destiny for a bye week. They’ll get it only if they win
and the Eagles lose.
Says here it’s Brett Favre? On the Vikings? That can’t be right. He loves Green Bay; Green
Bay loves him; and besides, he retired like ten years ago.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns, Sunday 1:00 (CBS). I thought the Cleveland Browns
had their own prime-time series on Fox, but turns out it’s just a cartoon.
The Jaguars have a mathematical chance at the playoffs. All they need is to win while four out
of five of the 8-7 teams lose. People will come off all shocked if that happens, but the odds against it
are about 10 to 1, not too bad. The only tiebreaker working against them will not come into play: their
head-to-head loss to Miami isn’t considered unless those two are the only 8-8 teams. If the Jaguars (or
Dolphins, for that matter) hope to make the playoffs, there will have to be at least five 8-8 teams.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills, Sunday 1:00 (CBS). This Tuesday, January 5, is the tenth
anniversary of the Music City Miracle, the kickoff return that won a playoff game for the Titans. The
Bills are continuing to commemorate that loss by missing the playoffs every year since. Buffalo fans,
I’ll grant you that Brett Hull was in the crease. No question. The Sabres got robbed. But Wycheck’s
pass was a lateral. Not only was it not a bad call, I’ll go so far as to say it was one of the greatest
officiating calls in sports history. To call that correctly in real time, with the speed and confusion, and
not fall for the optical illusion created when Wycheck leaned forward to pass the ball and Dyson
stretched back to catch it—or maybe the official had no idea and made the safer call, the one that
would let the play continue, and relied on the video replay to clean up his mess, and by dumb luck his
guess was right. Greatest call of all time or incompetent cop-out: it was certainly one or the other.
As for the Colts, now that they have given up on an undefeated season, I wonder why they
would bother to show up for this game. I mean literally: why should they put a hundred people on a
plane and fly to Buffalo? Say they refused. What’s the worst that could happen?
I have no problem with their decision to stop competing and concede last week’s game to the
Jets. Just refund all the money you charged for tickets, plus your share of the TV contract, and we’re
square.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, Sunday 1:00 (Fox). The Saints have locked up 1st seed
and the Panthers are out of the playoffs. Nothing to see here. (Technically, a Panthers victory helps the
Patriots wrap up the strength-of-victory tiebreaker. Okay, like I said, nothing to see.)
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, Sunday 1:00 (Fox). Other than to congratulate the Bears for making
last Monday night so entertaining, and other than to whine in advance that this meaningless contest
between snowbird favorites will probably keep Jax/Cleveland off the TV at my local Chandler, Arizona
sports bar, I have little to say about this game.
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 3
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday 1:00 (Fox). I have even less to say about this
game.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams, Sunday 1:00 (Fox). I have almost nothing to say about this
game. It doesn’t even help the Patriots in their strength-of-victory tiebreaker.
Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders, Sunday 4:15 (CBS). Two years ago in this space I wrote,
“The Raiders are capping another lost season by finally letting JaMarcus Russell start.” Yet two more
lost seasons later, the Raiders are finally making JaMarcus Russell sit. We are not any closer to the end
of the Raiders’lost seasons.
Meanwhile, the Ravens can sit back and watch the early games in blissful unconcern, then take
the field knowing if they win, they’re in the playoffs, and if they lose, they’re out. No other results
matter. And when I say “the Ravens,” that’s a figure of speech. I mean the Ravens’fans can sit back
and watch. During the early games, the Ravens themselves will be hard at work preparing for their
own game. Please don’t make the mistake of dividing a football player’s salary by 48 (3 hours per
game, 16 games) to determine what outrageous hourly rate he earns. A football player works six long
days every week for half the year, in dangerous, strenuous, physical labor, and is responsible to keep
himself in condition in the offseason. He doesn’t get vacation days in the middle of a playoff race to go
party in Vegas (unless he’s coached by Wade Phillips).
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, Sunday 4:15 (Fox). Oh, did someone mention Wade
Phillips? He’s easy to blame for the Cowboys’pattern of late-season failures—he doesn’t keep his
players focused, I think is how the indictment goes. But as a mathematician, I call shenanigans.
In any collection of random events, seeming patterns will emerge, to which we humans,
believing ourselves rational, will struggle to assign causation and significance. There are 32 teams in
the NFL, each of which played about 16 games in December over the last four seasons. By random
chance, someone had to have the best record and someone had to have the worst. By random chance,
someone could’ve won a whole lot of games, and someone could’ve lost a whole lot. Because exactly
that happened, we find ourselves looking for reasons the Chargers are so great in December and the
Cowboys are so lousy. If by random chance, such extremes had not occurred, then no one would be
talking about it at all, the way no one talks about what teams are great or lousy in September. Looking
at the random data, we don’t see any apparent patterns in September.
My point is that just because the Cowboys have in recent years played below expectations late
in the season, there is not necessarily a persistent cause for this result. They have a better chance to
win this game than they’re given credit for. (If they do win, they win the division. They even have an
outside shot at a bye week: both the Vikings and Cardinals must lose. Or if the Vikings win, this game
will repeat next week, back in Dallas.)
And if they lose 44-6 to the Eagles like they did at this time last year, well, damn it, I’ll still be
right. (Also, the Eagles will clinch a bye week.)
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, Sunday 4:15 (CBS). Nothing that happens in the early
games can eliminate the Broncos, nor place them in position to control their own destiny. They still
need to win and hope for at least two losses out of the Steelers, Ravens, and Jets. Or if the Steelers and
Texans both won the early games, then it’s okay for only one of the Ravens or Jets to lose. The
Broncos could also do it the hard way: they are the onlyAFC team that can lose this week and still
make the playoffs. All they need then is four losses from these five teams: the Steelers, Texans,
Jaguars, Ravens, and Jets. Alas, they also could’ve done it the easy way: be 11-4 at this point, if not
better, considering they started the season 6-0.
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 4
On the other side of the field, the Chiefs just suffered their first TV blackout since 1990.
They’re irrelevant.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday 4:15 (Fox). The Cardinals have clinched their
division and the Packers are locked into a wild card. If the Packers win at Arizona, they will open the
playoffs next week—right back at Arizona. In fact, if the Vikings and Eagles both win, then this game,
regardless of its outcome, repeats itself next week. If instead the Vikings lose the early game, then—
and only then—this game has some real significance. A Cardinals victory, combined with an Eagles
loss, gives the Cardinals a bye week. Imagine that! The Cardinals came as close as anyone has to
winning the Super Bowl last year, they followed it up with a good season, and I’m still in denial. I
keep expecting their essential fraudulence to be revealed at any moment. (Prominently involved will
be Matt Leinart.) But hey, maybe they’re for real.
Washington Redskins at San Diego Chargers, Sunday 4:15 (Fox). The champions of Super Bowl
XLIV (if you’re slow on Roman numerals, that’s this season) are locked into 2nd seed and will treat
this as an exhibition game. The champions of Super Bowl XXII, I’ve seen more than enough of lately.
Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks, Sunday 4:15 (CBS). The Seahawks have been unwatchable
this year. But on the other hand, this game features Chris Johnson’s attempt to rush for 234 yards and
set the all-time NFL record for rushing yards in a season. This is eminently attainable. With only 128
yards, he reaches 2000 for the season. Pessimistic Seahawks fans—these days there is no other kind—
consider this inevitable. Next on Chris Johnson’s agenda: Find himself a nickname.
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets, Sunday 8:20 (NBC). Before this game starts, the Bengals will
know whether they have anything to play for. If the Patriots won, then the Bengals are locked into 4th
seed, assuming the strength-of-victory tiebreaker resolves in the Patriots’favor (and by game time,
we’ll know it did). If the Patriots lost, then the Bengals can earn 3rd seed with a win. That’s not much
to play for.
One of the surest bets in the NFL is that a playoff-bound team locked into its seeding will lose
to a team that needs to win to get in. That’s the situation the Jets face: win and they’re in, lose and
they’re out. This is the situation regardless of any earlier results, which is why the league chose this as
the Sunday night game.
Moreover, when if the Jets win, this game repeats next week, only in Cincinnati—as you can
see in the charts that follow. I rolled out the trick I first unveiled three years ago, where one page has a
“Simplified” chart that assumes no ties, and the next page has a “Traditional” chart that you should at
least glance at real quick because I put a lot of time into it.
After that, I break down the playoff chances team by team, including ties. All you get from the
official NFL website
1
is “Baltimore, the Jets, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston can also make the
playoffs if they tie this week with various other things happening.” Various other things happening!
From me you get what those various other things are. In the NFL’s defense, though, they scooped me
on the rest of this stuff by three days.
As always, this document wants to travel, so pass it on, and if you know how to contact me
with questions, please do so. Happy New Year, and good luck to whomever you’re rooting for, unless
it’s Denver. Or for that matter, Dallas. Actually, I’m not too keen on the Colts either.
1
http://blogs.nfl.com/2009/12/28/week-17-clinching-scenarios
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 5
2009 Playoff Charts
AFC (Simplified)
#1=Ind #2=SD
1:00 1:00 1:00 4:15 4:15 8:20
Pit NE Jax Bal KC Cin
@Mia @Hou @Cle @Oak @Den @NYJ #3 #4 #5 #6
====================================================
Pit NE — Bal — Cin NE¹ Cin Bal Pit
Pit NE — Bal — NYJ NE Cin NYJ Bal
Pit NE Jax Oak KC Cin NE Cin Pit Jax
Pit NE Cle Oak KC Cin NE¹ Cin Pit Den
Pit NE — Oak KC NYJ NE Cin NYJ Pit
Pit NE — Oak Den Cin NE¹ Cin Pit Den
Pit NE — Oak Den NYJ NE Cin NYJ Pit
Pit Hou — Bal KC Cin Cin NE Bal Hou
Pit Hou — Bal KC NYJ NE¹ Cin NYJ Bal
Pit Hou — Bal Den Cin Cin NE Bal Den
Pit Hou — Bal Den NYJ NE¹ Cin NYJ Bal
Pit Hou — Oak KC Cin Cin NE Hou Pit
Pit Hou — Oak KC NYJ NE¹ Cin NYJ Hou
Pit Hou — Oak Den Cin Cin NE Den Hou
Pit Hou — Oak Den NYJ NE Cin NYJ Den
Mia NE Jax Bal KC Cin NE Cin Bal Jax
Mia NE Cle Bal KC Cin NE Cin Bal Den
Mia NE — Bal KC NYJ NE Cin NYJ Bal
Mia NE — Bal Den Cin NE Cin Bal Den
Mia NE — Bal Den NYJ NE Cin NYJ Bal
Mia NE Jax Oak KC Cin NE Cin Jax Den
Mia NE Cle Oak KC Cin NE Cin Den Mia
Mia NE Jax Oak KC NYJ NE Cin NYJ Jax
Mia NE Cle Oak KC NYJ NE Cin NYJ Den
Mia NE Jax Oak Den Cin NE Cin Den Jax
Mia NE Cle Oak Den Cin NE Cin Den Mia
Mia NE — Oak Den NYJ NE Cin NYJ Den
Mia Hou — Bal KC Cin Cin NE Bal Hou
Mia Hou — Bal KC NYJ NE Cin NYJ Bal
Mia Hou — Bal Den Cin Cin NE Bal Den
Mia Hou — Bal Den NYJ NE Cin NYJ Bal
Mia Hou Jax Oak KC Cin Cin NE Hou Jax
Mia Hou Cle Oak KC Cin Cin NE Hou Den
Mia Hou — Oak KC NYJ NE Cin NYJ Hou
Mia Hou — Oak Den Cin Cin NE Den Hou
Mia Hou — Oak Den NYJ NE Cin NYJ Den
¹ Swap #3 and #4 if Cin wins strength-of-victory tiebreaker over NE, i.e. if the
total number of wins by Bal, KC, and GB, plus twice the number of wins by Pit and
Cle, exceeds by more than 4 the total number of wins by Mia, Jax, Car, Ten, and
NYJ, plus twice the number of wins by Buf.
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 6
AFC (Traditional)
#1=Ind #2=SD
1:00 1:00 1:00 4:15 4:15 8:20 1:00 8:20
Pit NE Jax Bal KC Cin NE Cin
@Mia @Hou @Cle @Oak @Den @NYJ #5 #6 @Hou @NYJ #3 #4
========================================== ======================
Pit NE* — Bal — Cin* Bal Pit NE Cin NE¹ Cin
Pit NE* — Bal — NYJ NYJ Bal NE NYJ* NE Cin
Pit* NE Jax Oak KC Cin Pit Jax Hou Cin* Cin NE
Pit* NE Cle* Oak KC Cin Pit Den Hou NYJ NE¹ Cin
Pit NE* — Oak* KC* NYJ NYJ Pit tie Cin Cin NE
Pit NE* — Oak* KC* tie Pit NYJ tie NYJ NE Cin
Pit NE* — Oak* Den Cin* Pit Den tie tie NE¹ Cin
Pit NE* — Oak* Den NYJ NYJ Pit
Pit NE* — Oak tie Cin Pit Den
Pit NE* — tie KC* Cin Pit Bal
Pit Hou — Bal KC* Cin* Bal Hou
Pit Hou — Bal KC* NYJ NYJ Bal
Pit Hou — Bal Den Cin* Bal Den
Pit Hou — Bal Den NYJ NYJ Bal
Pit Hou — Oak* KC* Cin* Hou Pit
Pit Hou — Oak* KC* NYJ NYJ Hou
Pit Hou — Oak* Den Cin* Den Hou
Pit Hou — Oak* Den NYJ NYJ Den
Pit tie — Oak KC Cin Pit Hou
Mia NE Jax Bal* KC Cin Bal Jax
Mia NE Cle* Bal* KC Cin Bal Den
Mia* NE* — Bal KC* NYJ NYJ Bal
Mia* NE* — Bal KC* tie Bal NYJ
Mia* NE* — Bal Den Cin* Bal Den
Mia* NE* — Bal Den NYJ NYJ Bal
Mia NE* — Bal* tie Cin Bal Den
Mia NE Jax Oak KC Cin Jax Den
Mia NE Cle* Oak KC Cin Den Mia
Mia NE Jax Oak KC NYJ* NYJ Jax
Mia NE Cle* Oak KC NYJ* NYJ Den
Mia NE Jax Oak Den* Cin Den Jax
Mia NE Cle* Oak Den* Cin Den Mia
Mia* NE* — Oak* Den NYJ NYJ Den
Mia* NE* — Oak* Den tie Den NYJ
Mia NE — Oak tie NYJ* NYJ Den
Mia* NE* — tie KC* NYJ* NYJ Bal
Mia* NE* — tie Den Cin Den Bal
Mia* Hou — Bal KC* Cin* Bal Hou
Mia* Hou — Bal KC* NYJ NYJ Bal
Mia* Hou — Bal Den Cin* Bal Den
Mia* Hou — Bal Den NYJ NYJ Bal
Mia Hou* Jax Oak KC Cin Hou Jax
Mia Hou* Cle* Oak KC Cin Hou Den
Mia* Hou — Oak* KC* NYJ NYJ Hou
Mia* Hou — Oak* KC* tie Hou NYJ
Mia* Hou — Oak* Den Cin* Den Hou
Mia* Hou — Oak* Den NYJ NYJ Den
Mia Hou — Oak tie Cin Hou Den
Mia* Hou — tie KC* Cin Hou Bal
Mia tie — Bal* KC Cin Bal Hou
Mia tie — Oak KC NYJ* NYJ Hou
Mia* tie — Oak Den* Cin Den Hou
Mia* tie — Oak tie NYJ* NYJ Den
tie NE — Bal* KC* Cin Bal Pit
tie NE — Oak KC* NYJ* NYJ Pit
tie NE — Oak Den Cin Den Pit
tie NE — Oak tie Cin Pit Den
tie Hou — Oak KC* Cin Hou Pit
tie tie — Bal* KC Cin Bal Hou
tie tie — Bal* tie Cin Bal Den
tie tie — Oak KC Cin Hou Pit
tie tie — Oak KC NYJ* NYJ Hou
* In case of tie, read this row.
¹ Swap #3 and #4 if Cin wins strength-of-victory tiebreaker over NE.
(See Simplified chart for details.)
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 7
NFC
#1=NO
1:00 4:15 4:15
NYG Phi GB
@Min @Dal @Phx #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
==========================================
NYG Phi* GB* Phi Min Phx GB Dal
NYG Phi Phx Phi Phx Min GB Dal
NYG Dal GB Dal Min Phx GB Phi
NYG Dal Phx Phx Dal Min Phi GB
NYG Dal tie Dal Min Phx Phi GB
NYG tie Phx Phi Phx Min Dal GB
Min* Phi — Phi Min Phx GB Dal
Min* Dal GB Min Dal Phx GB Phi
Min* Dal Phx Min Phx Dal Phi GB
Min* Dal tie Min Dal Phx Phi GB
Min tie GB* Min Phi Phx GB Dal
Min tie Phx Min Phi Phx Dal GB
tie tie GB* Phi Min Phx GB Dal
tie tie Phx Phi Min Phx Dal GB
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 8
2009 AFC Team-By-Team
Indianapolis Colts (14-1) are South Division champions and have clinched home-field advantage
throughout the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers (12-3) are West Division champions and have clinched a bye week.
New England Patriots (10-5) are East Division champions and will host a first-round game. They
will be 3rd seed if they win and the Bengals lose or tie, or if they tie and the Bengals lose. They will be
4th seed if they tie and the Bengals win, or if they lose and the Bengals win or tie. If the Patriots and
Bengals both win, both tie, or both lose, then the winner of the strength-of-victory tiebreaker
2
will be
3rd seed and the loser of the tiebreaker will be 4th seed.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) are North Division champions and will host a first-round game. They will
be 3rd seed if they win and the Patriots lose or tie, or if they tie and the Patriots lose. They will be 4th
seed if they tie and the Patriots win, or if they lose and the Patriots win or tie. If the Bengals and
Patriots both win, both tie, or both lose, then the winner of the strength-of-victory tiebreaker will be
3rd seed and the loser of the tiebreaker will be 4th seed.
New York Jets (8-7) control their own destiny for a wild-card berth. They are a wild card, with the 5th
seed, if they win. Their first-round game would be at Cincinnati unless the Patriots lose at Houston
and the Bengals win the strength-of-victory tiebreaker against the Patriots. The Jets are eliminated if
they lose.
The Jets are a wild card if they tie, as long as at least three of these four teams lose or tie: the Steelers,
Texans, Ravens, and Broncos. They are then 6th seed if exactly three of those teams lose or tie and 5th
seed if all four do. They are eliminated if they tie and two or more of those teams win.
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) control their own destiny for a wild-card berth. They are a wild card if they
win. They will be 5th seed, unless the Jets also win at home against Cincinnati, in which case the
Ravens will be 6th seed. They are eliminated if they lose.
The Ravens are a wild card if they tie and the Jets lose, as long as at least two of the following lose or
tie: the Steelers, the Texans, and the Broncos. They are then 6th seed if exactly two of those lose or tie
and 5th seed if all three lose or tie. They are eliminated if less than two lose or tie.
The Ravens are a wild card with 6th seed if they tie and the Jets win or tie, as long as all three of the
Steelers, Texans, and Broncos lose or tie. Otherwise they are eliminated.
2
The Patriots have a 4-game lead and are very likely to win their strength-of-victory tiebreaker against the Bengals. The
Patriots will win the tiebreaker outright if either Miami or Jacksonville wins. The Bengals will win this tiebreaker only if
the total number of wins by Baltimore, Kansas City, and Green Bay, plus twice the number of wins by Pittsburgh and
Cleveland, exceeds by more than 4 the total number of wins by Miami, Jacksonville, Carolina, Tennessee, and the Jets, plus
twice the number of wins by Buffalo. For purposes of this calculation, ties count as half a win.
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 9
Denver Broncos (8-7) need help to earn a wild-card berth. They are a wild card if they win and either
(1.) the Ravens and Jets lose or tie, (2.) the Ravens or Jets lose or tie and the Steelers lose or tie, or (3.)
the Ravens or Jets lose or tie and the Texans win. They will be 5th seed if the Ravens, Jets, and
Steelers all lose or tie, or if the Ravens and Jets both lose or tie and the Texans win. Otherwise they
will be 6th seed. They are eliminated if the Ravens and Jets both win, or if the Steelers win and either
the Ravens or Jets win and the Texans lose or tie.
The Broncos are a wild card if they tie and either (1.) the Ravens and Jets lose and the Steelers and
Texans lose or tie, (2.) the Ravens and Jets lose, the Steelers win, and the Texans lose or tie, (3.) the
Ravens and Jets lose, the Texans win, and the Steelers lose, (4.) the Ravens or Jets lose, the Steelers
lose, and the Texans lose or tie, or (5.) the Ravens or Jets lose and the Steelers and Texans both tie.
They will be 5th seed if the Ravens, Jets, and Steelers all lose and the Texans lose or tie, or if the
Ravens and Jets both lose and the Steelers and Texans both tie. Otherwise the Broncos will be 6th
seed. If more than one of the Ravens, Jets, Steelers, and Texans wins, or if the Jets or Ravens tie and
one of the other four teams wins, or if the Jets or Ravens win or tie while the Steelers tie and the
Texans lose, or if the Jets and Ravens both tie, the Broncos are eliminated.
The Broncos are a wild card if they lose as long as these four teams all lose as well: the Steelers,
Texans, Ravens, and Jets. If in addition the Jaguars lose or tie, the Broncos will be 5th seed; otherwise
they will be 6th seed. If any of the four teams wins or ties, the Broncos are eliminated.
Houston Texans (8-7) need help to earn a wild-card berth. They are a wild card if they win and any
two of the following three teams lose or tie: the Broncos, Ravens, and Jets. They will be 6th seed
unless all three teams lose or tie, in which case they will be 5th seed. They are eliminated if at least
two of the three teams win. They are also eliminated if they lose.
They are a wild card if they tie and (1.) at least two of the Broncos, Ravens, and Jets lose while the
Steelers lose or tie, or (2.) all three lose while the Steelers win. They will be 6th seed unless the
Broncos, Ravens, and Jets all lose while the Steelers lose or tie, in which case the Texans will be 5th
seed. They are eliminated if at least two of the Broncos, Ravens, and Jets win or tie while the Steelers
lose or tie, or if any one of the three teams wins or ties while the Steelers win.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) need help to earn a wild-card berth. They are a wild card if they win and
either (1.) the Ravens or Jets lose or tie and the Texans lose or tie, or (2.) the Ravens and Jets lose or
tie and either the Texans or Broncos lose or tie. They will be 6th seed unless the Ravens, Jets, and
Texans all lose or tie, in which case they will be 5th seed. They are eliminated if the Texans win,
unless the Ravens, Broncos, and Jets all lose or tie. They are also eliminated if they lose.
They are a wild card if they tie and either (1.) the Ravens or Jets lose, the Texans lose, and the Broncos
lose or tie, (2.) the Ravens and Jets lose and the Texans or Broncos lose, or (3.) the Ravens and Jets
lose, the Texans win, and the Broncos tie. They will be 6th seed unless the Ravens, Jets, and Texans all
lose and the Broncos lose or tie, in which case they will be 5th seed. They are eliminated if the Texans
win, unless the Ravens and Jets lose and the Broncos lose or tie. They are eliminated if the Texans tie,
unless the Ravens, Jets, and Broncos all lose.
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) must win and have help to earn a wild-card berth. They are a wild card if
they win while at least four of the following five teams lose: the Steelers, Texans, Ravens, Broncos,
and Jets. They will be 6th seed if exactly four of those teams lose and 5th seed if all five lose.
Otherwise they will be eliminated.
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.
Page 10
Miami Dolphins (7-8) must win and have lots of help to earn a wild-card berth. They are a wild card,
with 6th seed and a first-round game at New England, if they win while the Jets, Ravens, and Texans
all lose and the Jaguars lose or tie. In any other scenario, the Dolphins are eliminated.
Tennessee Titans (7-8) are eliminated from the playoffs. In their best-case scenario, they would win
while the Texans lose and the Jaguars lose or tie; the Titans would then finish second in the South
Division with an 8-8 record. However, they would need at least three of the 8-7 teams from other
divisions to lose, or else no 8-8 teams could make the playoffs. In any tiebreaker involving multiple
teams from other divisions, the Titans would lose because of their 4-8 conference record.
2009 NFC Team-By-Team
New Orleans Saints (13-2) are South Division champions and have clinched home-field advantage
throughout the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings (11-4) are North Division champions. They will have a bye week as the 2nd seed
if they win at home against the Giants and the Eagles lose or tie at Dallas, or if they tie and the Eagles
lose. Otherwise they will host a first-round game.
Philadelphia Eagles (11-4) have clinched a playoff berth and control their own destiny for the East
Division title and a bye week. They win the division, with a bye week as the 2nd seed, if they win at
Dallas. They win the division if they tie Dallas and have a bye week if in addition the Vikings lose or
tie at home against the Giants. They are a wild card if they lose to Dallas, with a 6th seed if the
Packers win at Arizona or a 5th seed if the Packers lose or tie.
Arizona Cardinals (10-5) are West Division champions and need help to earn a bye week. They will
have a bye week as the 2nd seed if they win at home against Green Bay, the Vikings lose at home
against the Giants, and the Eagles lose at Dallas. Otherwise they will host a first-round game. If they
lose to Green Bay, then next week they host Green Bay again.
Dallas Cowboys (10-5) have clinched a playoff berth, control their own destiny for the East Division
title, and need help to earn a bye week. They win the division if they win at home against Philadelphia.
They will have a bye week if they win, the Vikings lose at home against the Giants, and the Cardinals
lose or tie at home against Green Bay. They host a first-round game if they win and either the Vikings
win or tie or the Cardinals win. They are a wild card if they tie, with the 6th seed if the Packers win or
tie and the 5th seed if the Packers lose. They are the 6th seed wild card if they lose.
Green Bay Packers (10-5) have clinched a wild-card berth. They are the 5th seed if they win at
Arizona, or if they tie and the Cowboys lose or tie at home against Philadelphia, or if they lose and the
Cowboys lose. They are the 6th seed if they tie and the Cowboys win, or if they lose and the Cowboys
win or tie. If they win, they play at Arizona again next week in a first-round playoff game.
© 2010 Jonathan Elgart. May be freely distributed if copyright notice is preserved.

For NFL Fans

December 23, 2009

If you would like to see the 2008 version, it is here: https://joelshitshow.com/2008/12/17/for-nfl-fans-2/

Welcome back to what Andy Williams and I call the most wonderful time
of the year. One nice thing about a 45-12 game on Monday night is
that my tiebreaker charts got done early. I didn’t have to wait
around to see if the Giants would make it to 8-6. Also, this was
redemption for me as I sadly missed the only previous 45-12 game in
NFL history. The Browns beat the Steelers by that score, despite
committing 5 turnovers, on October 5, 1958. It helped that the
Steelers turned the ball over 9 times themselves. What we learn from
these two games is that you have to play pretty darn badly to lose,
45-12.

Q: So are the Giants going to make the playoffs now?

A: They could. They’re a game behind the Cowboys and Packers for the
last wild-card spot, and they own the tiebreaker over each of those
teams. But one of them would have to lose to give the Giants a
chance.

Q: Could the Giants win the division? The Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants
could all finish 10-6. If that happens, the Cowboys would beat the
Eagles twice, and the Eagles have already beaten the Giants twice and
the Giants have beaten the Cowboys twice. It’s a circle! Who wins
that tiebreaker?

A: If this were the Big 12, the tie would be resolved by BCS
standings. In the NFL, of course, there is no BCS. Therefore, the
tie is resolved by Pete Prisco’s power rankings at CBS Sportsline.
I’m kidding. Actually, it’s resolved by which team’s fans would buy
the most travel packages to the Fiesta Bowl. Ha ha, just kidding
again! It’s resolved by division record, which basically means
whoever lost to the Redskins is out. To reach this 10-6 scenario, the
Cowboys would have to lose this week to the Redskins. Therefore,
they’re eliminated from the tiebreaker, and it comes down to the
Eagles’ head-to-head sweep over the Giants.

Q: Do you have anything else to say about the NFC?

A: Not really. It was pretty boring this year. For seeding purposes,
the Vikings win the tiebreaker against the Saints and lose against the
Eagles, Cowboys, or Cardinals. There you go.

Q: What about the strength-of-victory tiebreaker between the Falcons
and Panthers?

A: Nice try, but there are no strength-of-victory tiebreakers in the
NFC this year. The Falcons, in fact, are eliminated already despite
their 7-7 record, because they lose all tiebreakers to the 9-5 teams
above them. Now the AFC is another matter.

Q: Yeah, with six teams all at 7-7, you must have had your work cut out for you.

A: Um, that’s not exactly a question, but I’ll agree with you.

Q: What happens if all six of them finish 9-7?

A: First of all, unless the Ravens or Broncos lose at least once to
give someone else a chance, none of the 7-7 teams are going anywhere.
And second of all, they can’t all finish 9-7 because several of them
are playing each other: the Dolphins are playing both the Texans and
the Steelers. So you have to choose which teams you want at 9-7.

Q: Then what 7-7 team has the best shot at the playoffs?

A: That’s a better question. The Jaguars would be the only 9-7 team
with an 8-4 conference record, so they would win all tiebreakers,
except head to head against the Dolphins, who edged them a couple
weeks ago, 14-10. Both sides knew that was an important game, and
here it is. After the Jaguars, I’d say the odds run in this order:
Dolphins, Jets, Steelers, Titans, and Texans. The Steelers’ best
advantage is that they play the Ravens this week and don’t have to
hope for help. However, even if the Steelers win this game, the
Ravens keep the tiebreaker advantage due to division record.

Q: The Patriots lead the East division. How can they clinch?

A: The Dolphins win all tiebreakers in the East and the Jets lose all
tiebreakers. Therefore, the Patriots win the division unless they
lose twice and the Dolphins win twice. The Jets cannot win the
division.

Q: The Bengals lead the North division. How can they clinch?

A: The Bengals win all tiebreakers in the North and the Steelers lose
all tiebreakers. Therefore, the Bengals win the division with any one
win or one Ravens loss. The Steelers cannot win the division. Nor do
they deserve to, after losing to the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns in
the space of 19 days.

Q: Have the Chargers clinched a bye week?

A: Not quite. At 11-5, the Patriots would claim the bye week ahead of
the Chargers, based on record against common opponents (the difference
being the Chargers losing this Saturday to a Titans team that was down
45-0 at halftime to the Patriots). The Chargers beat the Bengals head
to head and would win that tiebreaker. If all three teams finish
11-5, it goes to strength of victory.

Q: Ah, there it is. How does that work?

A: That three-way tiebreaker would slightly favor the Chargers and
strongly disfavor the Bengals. There are several scenarios where a
two-way tiebreaker between the Patriots and Bengals would have to be
resolved by strength of victory.

Q: Several scenarios?

A: Yes. Of course this tiebreaker would only determine 3rd vs. 4th
seed, so who cares. But basically, here’s how you figure out who gets
3rd seed: If the Patriots and Bengals have the same record after this
week, then their tiebreaker has to be resolved by strength of victory.
If they both lose this week, it’s a tossup; if they both win, the
Patriots have a big advantage, because the last thing the Bengals need
is a win against the 3-11 Chiefs on their slate. If the Patriots and
Bengals have different records after this week, then whoever has to
catch up next week wins the tiebreaker.

Q: Are there any other strength-of-victory tiebreakers?

A: Oh, quite a few. I’ve finessed a lot of the details because I
don’t want to bore you.

Q: Perish the thought.

A: Again, not a question, but thank you.

Q: What was the most complicated tiebreaker?

A: My favorite was the four-way tiebreaker at 8-7-1 between Miami,
Baltimore, Tennessee, and Denver. I had to invent new mathematical
notation just to fit it onto my chart. Here’s what my chart says:
[Bal/Ten,Den;Mia (C;O) \\ # Mia,Bal/Ten;Den (C;V)] % [Bal/Ten;Mia,Den
(C;O) \\ {Bal/Ten;Mia;Den (C;O;H) # Mia,Bal,Den/Ten (C;V)}]. What
this means in plain English is two things: One, Baltimore probably
wins the tiebreaker, unless Miami ties Houston and beats Pittsburgh,
in which case there’s a strength-of-victory tiebreaker between
Baltimore, Miami, and possibly Denver. And two, the odds against this
scenario not only happening but being relevant to the playoffs are
literally about 100 billion to one. I mean, all four of these teams
separately have to play tie games in the next two weeks. It’s more
likely that an asteroid will hit NFL headquarters than that this
tiebreaker will determine a playoff spot. In fact, it’s more likely
that an asteroid will hit NFL headquarters but deal it only a glancing
blow and spare Roger Goodell. But just in case it does, I’ll be
prepared. (For the tiebreaker, not the asteroid.)

Q: What would we do without you?

A: Seriously. I feel like Bruce Willis in “Die Hard.” Yippee-ki-yay
and so forth.

Q: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mister Cowboy?

A: We covered the Cowboys already. They have a pretty good chance,
sorry to say.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: No, so why don’t I throw it open to questions from the gallery.
None of these are substantive, but I like to provide this service to
my loyal readers.

Aaron S. of Florida asks: Do a half-dozen 7-7 teams make the Answer
Man as giddy as a schoolgirl?

A: Yes, you’d be surprised what a charge I get out of [Bal/Ten,Den;Mia
(C;O) \\ # Mia,Bal/Ten;Den (C;V)] % [Bal/Ten;Mia,Den (C;O) \\
{Bal/Ten;Mia;Den (C;O;H) # Mia,Bal,Den/Ten (C;V)}].

Ben S. of North Carolina has a series of questions. Q: Who is the NFL
Answer Man?

A: The NFL Answer Man is one of the world’s leading experts on NFL
tiebreaker scenarios, for what it’s worth. It’s not worth much, which
is why I haven’t bothered to monetize it or even generate much
publicity for it.

Q: What kind of answers can he provide?

A: Mostly answers about tiebreaker scenarios. Sometimes I receive
questions about which players or teams are actually good, as distinct
from mathematically favored, but I don’t have any special expertise in
that area. I could tell you why the Texans can’t win the
strength-of-victory tiebreaker against the Broncos, but I couldn’t
name five players on the Texans.

Q: Who is Troy Polamalu?

A: This happens to be my favorite player, so I can identify him. He’s
the Steelers’ best player. Their excuse for missing the playoffs this
year, as they’re about to do, is that he’s been injured almost all
season. It bears mentioning, meanwhile, that the Colts’ best player
at the same position, Bob Sanders, has been injured most of the year
too and the Colts are 14-0.

Q: Who is Ochocinco? (I keep seeing their names around and can’t be
bothered to google them.)

A: Ochocinco is a self-promoting player who gets away with it because
he’s talented. The league office plays into his hands by issuing
nominal fines for his continual publicity stunts. He was born Chad
Johnson but nicknamed himself Ocho Cinco because he’s worn #85 his
whole career. As a self-promotional stunt, he sought permission to
replace the name JOHNSON on his uniform with OCHO CINCO. The league
denied his request. So he went to court and had his name legally
changed to Chad Ochocinco. Checkmate.

Q: Why is football?

A: I try not to think about this or I’d have to stop watching.

Q: What is the likelihood that Tom Brady dumps baby momma 2 for a baby
momma 3 to be named later?

A: I happen to know that Ben S. is a high school classmate of baby
momma 1 and I advise Ben S. not to take baby momma 1’s troubles to
heart.

Lastly, J. Edelman asks: How many NFL players would have to come down
with the swine flu before the Lions would qualify for the postseason?

A: First of all, this is J. Edelman of California, not J. Edelman of
Massachusetts, the poor man’s W. Welker. To answer your question, the
NFC gets six playoff teams and the Lions are the 15th best team in the
NFC. Therefore, nine teams would have to drop out before the Lions
could be a playoff team. I don’t know how many players would be too
few for a team to take the field, but let’s say you’d need at least 11
offensive players, 11 defensive players, a punter, and a placekicker.
NFL teams have 53 players on their rosters. Under our assumptions, 30
players from each team would have to come down with the swine flu,
times nine teams makes 270. Aren’t you glad you asked?

I’ll leave you here with the disclaimer that this is copyrighted
material but may be freely distributed as long as this notice is
preserved. I encourage you to freely distribute it (by forwarding
this email or by sharing the link to
us30.wordpress.com/nfl-answer-man-2009). Besides, I won’t press my
rights; I don’t need to attract the attention of the NFL’s trademark
lawyers. I also encourage you to send me follow-up questions. I’ll
see you next week with my 22nd annual playoff charts. You have no
evidence that I’ve been doing this for 22 years, but take my word for
it.

Girls saying “please” to get what they want… in back to back commercials

September 12, 2009

I am watching the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals play on the Fox Game of the Week. I have to. Fox does not let other baseball games that start at the same time be aired, so it’s this or college football. That’s like choosing between apples and eggplants.
And it hasn’t been all bad. I mean, Tim Hudson hit his first major league home run, right after Chris Rose and Mark Grace discussed that he had 18 home runs in college as a hitter. I love that shit.
Later on, we get a commercial break, with this Anheuser Busch responsible drinking commercial. Then, the very next spot is this Just for Men commercial.
I haven’t seen anything like that since Family Guy aired a Volkswagen commercial right after the Nazis invaded Poland.

Family Circus vs. The Simpsons

July 18, 2009

Yes, Family Circus is finally relevant. In the Sunday comics tomorrow, the 19 July 2009 edition will show the kids, Barfy and Sam lose interest in Daddy’s storytelling to go watch TV. But they’re not just watching any show. If you look carefully, you will see that they are in fact watching The Simpsons. Considering Jeff and Bil Keane (obviously it’s only Jeff) still draw cars the same way they were drawn in the 1960s, it’s (pardon the pun) comical to see the kids doing anything modern.

More MLB Network shenanigans

June 26, 2009

They read the legal copy saying how the game could not be broadcast without the express written consent etc. After they finished, one of them says if you want an explanation of what that means, “press the SAP button on your remote.” That kind of joke is funny once. I’ve never thought of the gag, but I am sure it’s tired. So I will enjoy it this time, but have you ever heard this bit before? If so, you just can’t laugh at it again.

Antonio Bastardo is injured, by the way. When they first introduced him, I can’t help but wonder whether they made fun of his name. I guess my disdain is because I prefer wit in my humor. I don’t know why people put Sweet ‘N’ Low in their coffee either.

MLB Network wants to outfox Fox

June 26, 2009

So first Matt Vasgersian insults baseball fans by saying, “if you’re scoring the game at home, you need a new hobby.” And then either Joe Magrane or Mitch Williams started discussing the education level of people that keep score of ballgames they watch on TV when they talked about a GED. One of them asks what GED stands for, or whether he knew, and the reply was “gross eating disorder.”

Me? Not offended of course, and having Tivo would make this posting a lot more accurate, but I am surprised that they’re allowed to be so risque. I literally just turned the game on. (There’s a game? Yes. Philiadelphia Phillies at Tampa Bay Rays.) I think it’s a great teaching opportunity for dads scoring the game at home while watching it with their 11-year-old daughter.

And then what is the first ad for when they go to commercial? Tostitos, marketed as being a healthy tortilla chip. Perfect, perhaps, for people with eating disorders.

Again, not outraged. I think it’s just a stupid move on their part. Who gets turned on by this stuff? Who is going to go to mlb.com and buy Manny Ramirez jerseys because of these unfunny off-the-cuff remarks. And again again, not offensive! Just not funny. If you’re neither funny nor offensive, you’re just wasting people’s time.

Counting cards in blackjack for dummies

June 15, 2009

I posted this on a private message board and thought I might as well put it here, because it’s a rare time that I have an unaltered writing sample. (People can look at my music reviews and think that’s how I always write. It’s just the way KSCU wants them!)

Well, let’s not scare him off completely. I will start from the beginning; thankfully these threads are private. This isn’t the only way or the best way; it’s just my way.

First of all, the count. The standard hi-lo count, with 7-8-9 being 0, 10s and aces being -1 and 2-6 being +1 is all you need.

Secondly, the game. Don’t play any game that doesn’t pay 3:2 for a blackjack. No matter how good you are at counting cards, it’s not going to let you overcome a blackjack that pays even money or 6:5. If it means playing a shoe, play a shoe.

Use a 1-6 spread only. Of course you can make more money with a 1-10 or 1-20 spread. But people will notice that. The only real exception to this is if you have been unlucky (more on this in a bit) and have a really positive count, you can comment on your bad luck and go “all in.” It looks like something any ol’ ploppy would do, and you’ll get to perhaps put 10 units or so out there without looking suspicious.

Being unlucky…. Just because you have an advantage doesn’t mean you will always win. Think about the shitbag players that hit 16 vs a 5 and draw to 20. The ones that stand on 13 vs a 10 and win because the dealer busts. The one that splits 10s and gets two 20s and wins when the dealer draws to an 18. It’s no different than the guy winning at Texas Hold’ Em when he plays rags. Sometimes you win, usually you don’t. But if you count correctly, even with just a 1-6 spread, you will win in the long run. You won’t win a lot, but you will win.

About that 1-6 spread. Even though a zero count means a negative house advantage, I still bet two units. I only bet one unit when the count is negative. This makes it easier to move to six units when the count is positive. If you’re betting one unit when the count is negative OR zero, you’re betting one unit too often. The biggest psychological difference is the one between one chip and two, because it’s double. A single chip just makes you look like you’re grinding it out until your free drink comes, and a four or five-chip bet is more noticeable when you’ve been betting one chip for a long time. Let’s say you’re at a $5 table. When you sit down at the beginning of a deck/shoe, bet $10. If the count goes negative, go to $5. If the adjusted count (may not be the right term, will explain in a bit) is +1, bet $15. If it’s +2, bet $20. It will be rare when it is +4 or even higher, but when it is, that’s when you go to $30. That’s about the most you can do without people noticing. There are exceptions, of course. If you find a table where someone else is betting quarters or some other higher amount, you’ve got tremendous cover. You can bet a little more when the count is positive without worry.

Obviously, if you play a six-deck shoe, you can have a +10 count pretty easily. That doesn’t mean you bet a whole lot more: That +10 is relative to how many decks are left. So let’s say after two decks (look at the stack of used cards to see how many have been played) you are a plus-10. That means there are four decks left. 10 divided by 4 is 2.5, so with a +2.5 count at a $5 table, you’d bet either $20 or $25. In a situation like this I see what I’ve been betting lately. If I’ve been around $10 or $15 I can go to $25 easy, but if I was betting $5 (maybe the last hand had everyone getting a lot of low cards, five-card 20s etc.), I’d only go to $20. If the next hand doesn’t dish out a bunch of tens, then I can always move up the next hand, if the count warrants it.

If a count gets really negative, and you’re on a shoe. You can piss away $5 a hand if you want, or you can use that opportunity to go to the bathroom. (This is called reverse wonging, incidentally. Search for Stanford Wong on Wikipedia to learn more.)

Especially on a single or double deck pitch game, if the dealer gets to choose how deep the penetration is (how many cards are used before he shuffles), you want to “encourage” the dealer to dig deeper on those good decks. To do this, any time I am putting a five or six-unit bet, I try to bet a dollar for the dealer too. You can’t do it too often because it eats into your profit margin, of course, but even if you are able to do it now and then, it can help. Some dealers count as they go. If they know what you’re doing, they might cooperate because they realize you’re making both of you money. (Dealers live on tips, just like bartenders and Karl when he is doing his exotic dancer bit in Vegas.) Obviously he can’t move the cut card on this pack (in some circles they call them this; kinda neat for us card collectors), but when he shuffles up, he may go for deeper penetration next time (so to speak). Take note: If he is still only giving 50-60% penetration even after you’ve tipped a few times, he’s not going to suddenly get nicer about it. And of course after this much time, the dealer likely is going to be broken anyway. (Typically they work 40 minutes and get a 20-minute break, although some do three 20-minute shifts at three tables and then get a 20-minute break.)

Unless you haven’t had a chance to make a lot of big bets, you want to leave after you’ve doubled your buy in (wait till the end of the pack/shoe) or after about an hour or so. You aren’t going to get caught playing at such small stakes for such a small period of time.

Remember, it should be fun, not work. And if you forget what the count is, just go back to two units for the rest of the pack/shoe, although if you see a bunch of small cards come out, you can try a few more units if you want.