Monday, December 12, 2005

"Oh, the Ties We'll Break!" 

Well, the Steelers played a textbook Pittsburgh game yesterday. No turnovers, no sacks allowed, and a ground game that looked terrific. What's more, the Chiefs lost to the Cowboys, and the Chargers apparently felt the need to embarass themselves by falling to the Dolphins.

This leaves the Steelers, Chargers and Chiefs tied at 8-5 for the last wild card spot.

So who's in the driver's seat? Well, I found a summary of the tiebreaker rules at MSNBC (oddly, it doesn't seem to be explained in this morning's Post-Gazette):

Pittsburgh currently holds first dibs even though it has the worst conference record at 6-5 among the three and has Minnesota, Cleveland and Detroit remaining.

The Chargers are 6-3 and Kansas City is 7-3 in conference games.

What gives? The reason is that for a team to qualify for the playoffs, it must first get out of its own division. In this case, San Diego leads Kansas City because it beat the Chiefs already and has a better division record right now. That could change as the Chargers and Chiefs play one more time.

But if San Diego holds the lead over the Chiefs and all three remain tied, the Steelers get in. The Chargers would win the tie against Chiefs, but then would lose the final playoff spot to Pittsburgh because the Steelers beat them earlier this year.
Alllllrighty. So if I understand that correctly, we need the Chargers to hold the lead over the Chiefs -- because we have the tie-breaker over San Diego. If the Chiefs beat the Chargers when they play head-to-head, it seems like that would then give KC the edge. And therefore, by virtue of conference record, KC would knock us out too.

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