Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Dec 2010

Don't Laugh: 6-10 Can Win NFC West

Maybe this is what got Derek Anderson all silly on Monday Night: the thought of a 6-10 division winner.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 02 Dec 2010

52 comments, Last at 03 Dec 2010, 3:05pm by AudacityOfHoops


by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 8:00am

If Carolina were in the NFC West and ran the table... oh wait, that made me laugh like Derek Anderson.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 8:45am

Obviously the NFC West overall is putrid this year, but I do kind of think only the Seahawks and (especially) Cardinals are actually terrible teams. From what I've seen of the Rams this year, they really don't look anything like as bad as DVOA has them pegged. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they won all their remaining divisional games, nor would I be shocked if they knocked off the Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome. An 8-8 or 9-7 Rams team winning the division would be by far the weakest division winner this year, but not (for my money - DVOA may disagree, of course) historically crappy. Not even the worst Rams playoff team of the last decade.

by jmaron :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:37am

NFC West vs top 15 DVOA teams

3-11, 244pts for, 420 against

Wins Stl and Sea over SD
Arz over NO

I don't know what happened in those games but I bet the NFC West teams were outgained by some huge amount of yards but there were a bunch of turnovers or return plays.

by Kulko :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:43am

>> Winns Stl and Sea over SD

Somebody obviously told Norv, that there is no CBA in place so he thought its a strike season and he must play his first 5 games with replacement Players.

by milo :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 12:09pm

Arizona beat New Orleans by scoring 3 touchdowns. Their longest TD drive was 2 yards.

by Some_FF-Player_in_nawlins (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 12:17pm

That was a very bad game for the Saints. Drew Brees threw several interceptions and they turned the ball over once deep in their own territory. Also, Arizona got a LOT of fumble luck in that game. It was also one of the three games that New Orleans has played with their highest number of players inactive due to injury.

by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 6:19pm

Some of this has been addressed, but...

* Cardinals beat New Orleans with two defensive touchdowns, and their only offensive touchdown came on a play where Max Hall fumbled and his offensive tackle carried the ball into the end zone. They still only won by 10.

* Seahawks beat the Chargers because Leon Washington had two kickoff return touchdowns, and likely had the best kickoff return day in league history. They still only won by three.

* Rams didn't get a ton of return yards and were only +1 in turnovers (the interception came in the end zone and likely cost the Chargers at least a field goal), but they did get six sacks. They only won by three.

by Kulko :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:55am

BTW Since you chickened out:

A 5-10-1 Team would win the Division if:
SEA looses everything until W16
STL looses everything until W16
SF looses everything until W16 apart from the Division games
Ari looses everything until W16 apart from the Division games
Sea- STL tie each other in W17
SF and Ari tie each other in W17

Now that would be something really worth to root for.

PS The Division would go to SF in this event I think.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:56am

I think the NFL should consider a couple rule changes.

1. No team can make the playoffs with a losing record. If a team wins the division with a losing record, it is replaced by the third best team in the conference. If no team is available from the conference with a non-losing record (it could happen), the slots are filled by the team from the other conference. (With appropriate reseeding rules.)

2. The team with the best record hosts the playoff game. Teams with the same record will be determined by the usual tie-breaker methods, with conference winner added as the first tie-breaker.

It may not be perfect. But I'd hate to think a 6-10 team would not only be in the playoffs and also get to host a playoff game.

by MCS :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 10:36am

No team should cross conference lines for the playoffs. If, in the event that the division winner with a losing record does cannot be replaced by a team with a winning record, the division winner goes to the playoffs.

I also like the fact that the division winner hosts. The division needs to stand for something.

by Kulko :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 11:33am

Sorry by I really cant understand why winning the 2010 NFC W should count for something.

I wouldnt go so far kicking bad division winners actually out, but seeding by record is a really sensible thing to do in my eyes. and its actually quite often that teams get screwed because of this.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 11:41am

While it might be fair to slag off the NFC West this year I have absolutely no sympathy for teams that don't win their division and then don't make the playoffs.

by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:05pm

The only teams I feel bad for in that situation are those like the 2008 Patriots, who tied for their division lead at 11-5 and split their series with the division winner but missed the playoffs due to wild card tiebreakers.

by ChaosOnion :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 2:35pm

I never feel bad for NE.

by ChaosOnion :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 2:38pm

I think if a team wins a division sub-.500, that playoff spot should just be vacated for the playoffs. An extra team gets a bye. I know it will never happen like that because the NFL would refuse to lose the revenue of a playoff game.

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 10:28am

RE: 6

I kinda think those rule changes would be a bit overreacting. How many times in league history has a losing team won a division or hosted a play off game? The chances of that happening on a semi regular basis are remote. I am just not a fan of making rule changes based on extremely rare occurences.

by NoraDaddy :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 4:14pm

As for the playoff game host site, the comment was that it should be hosted by the team with the better record. It happens every year where the best wildcard team has a better record than the worst division winner. The division winner gets the home field. I tend to think there is merit in allowing the wildcard team with the better record to host this game.

The first part is a little over-reacting but it still will suck if we have a team with a losing record in the playoffs.

by MCS :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 10:39am

Something that we are not considering, what to do with the teams that are padding their record by playing these weak divisions. If you have the NFC West on your schedule this year, it's almost like four guaranteed wins (hyperbole watch). That almost ensures a higher seed for the playoff caliber team with the NFC West on the schedule.

by ammek :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 11:05am

The AFC West is actually only half a game above .500 against the AFC West. It leads 7-6.

The main reason for this year's NFC West extra-putridity is that it has gone 2-9 against the NFC South. And, by extension, it's hard to tell how good the South is because it plays one-third of its games against the NFC West or the Panthers.

by Anonymus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 3:07pm

There are small samples you could, somehow, rely on:

NFC West is 2-4 against not-South NFC
1-2 against NFC North
W13 - SF@GB
1-2 against NFC East

NFC South is 3-3 against not-West NFC
2-1 against NFC North
W14 - TB@WAS
1-2 against NFC East
W15 - DET@TB

I know those are few games, but it seems to me that NFC South will end with a 5-3 (2 of this losses are Carolina's), and NFC West, 2-6. So, that 2-9 record not only seems compatible, but also that the South is not weak comparing to other NFC divisions.

by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 11:22am

That's exactly why FO had such a high prediction for the 2008 Patriots. They played both the NFC and AFC Worst teams. Went 7-1 in those eight games, including all their "stomps." In the process turning Rusher McFumbles into a NFL starting QB. That NFL schedule can make or break seasons and careers. I'm not even biiter that SD went to the playoffs at 8-8 that year and the Pats stayed at home. Them's the rules.

Someone with more time than me should compare playing the "Westies" with making the playoffs for the other six divisions...

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 11:25am

All things considered, I say we flip a coin to see who gets into the playoffs.

Seriously, that's the nature of sports. Sometimes "unfair" things happen and you just have to deal with it.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 11:38am

I'm not laughing, I'm crying. The niners are such a sad case of a team. The only time they've been any good since 1970 is when they lucked into Bill Walsh and Eddie D threatened to sack him every other year. The current owners are possibly even more clueless than Eddie, I have very little hope that anything good will happen for the niners. I think they do have some talented players but if you look around the league the best teams have good owners that get out of the way of their front office which allows them to get good coaches. The niners are clearly badly coached, every game they butcher their timeouts because they can't make their minds up or get the play called in time. They also rack up absurd amounts of penalty yards and commit very sloppy turnovers. St Louis are the only team that looks to have the right combination of qb and head coach though Arizona should be in a good spot to grab Newton, who I'm sure will remind Whisenhunt of a certain qb he's coached before, then they'll be looking better. Seattle have added some decent players but don't have the long term answer at quarterback. The best outlook for the niners appears to be them becoming what Raiderjoe aptly called a 'hamster team', running around the wheel without getting anywhere, that's the upside, the downside is to continue being a sodding joke.

by jimbohead :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:03pm

I agree completely and wholeheartedly. It's been a depressing year. I've been on the "fire Singletary" bandwagon for a while, and think the worst thing that could happen these last few games is for him to get a couple solid wins and convince the Yorks that he's an actual coach, and that Troy Smith is an actual QB.

Also, as to your comment about Whisenhunt and Newton, is Cam Newton a rapist? *ducks*

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:22pm

So I take it I'm not the only one who nearly threw up when he saw Eddie D as a HoF semi-finalist?

Besides his loudmouthed idiocy, I just don't see how any owner short of Paul Brown or Al Davis's contributions should ever get in.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:53pm

Totally with you on Eddie. However, I do think that there is a case for some owners being in the hall. There are a handful of owners who did make a genuine contribution to the survival of the league, especially in the early days, i.e. a Halas or Lamar Hunt. Maybe even Art Modell for his commitment to revenue sharing, the communist heart of the favourite sport of the world's most capitalist country.

Jerry Jones could be in the plastic surgery hall of fame, which would probably be nearly as full of busts as the NFL one.

by Keasley (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:43pm

It's not all flowers and candy for the NFC West winner either. Sure you get an undeserved playoff spot. But you also get an undeserved high draft pick so it does somewhat balance out.

The Seahawks appear to be the front runner to win the division based on their inter-divisional, their remaining sched and that the game that will probably decide the division champ -- between the Seahawks and Rams in week 17 -- is a home game for the Seahawks. So they'll make the playoffs, host a game they will lose 44-6, and get the 21st draft pick. What they really need is a top-10 pick and a shot at a franchise QB. Ditto Niners. Ditto Cards.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:36am

My brother, who is a Rams fan, is desperately hoping they don't win the division so that they'll have a shot at AJ Green. I think he's SOL: they're already in first place and they have the only real quarterback in the division. They're a better team than the Seahawks by a big enough margin to over-ride home field.

by Eddo :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:26pm

I'm thinking the Rams would almost have to lose out to get Green. Even with only one more win (finishing at 6-10), the following teams would likely still be drafting ahead of the Rams:


And the following still might be:
San Francisco
St. Louis

Even with a "collapse" (by NFC West standards), the Rams will likely not be in a position to select the first WR overall.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:05pm

Not with their own pick, but trading up from, say, 8th to 4th is fairly feasible. Trading up from 21st isn't really. And Green is a special prospect at a position of massive need.

by max :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:58pm

I'm not laughing, although it is ridiculous.

And so what. Everyone realizes this is the entertainment business. The NFL would love to have a 6-10 team in the playoffs. Think of all the media attention it would raise. Anything to stop the negative press of Spygate 2. The last thing Kraft and Goodell want is the media asking more question about the Patriots video department. They'd rather the media focus on taking shots at the Rams getting into the playoffs at 6-10 rather than remember how they got cheated in the SB.

Unfortunately, 6-10 won't happen. And besides, has anyone actually watched the Rams play this year? If you live in the northeast you're not getting the Rams on regional or national TV. Too bad, Bradford is having an amazing rookie year. Best rookie QB the nation has ever seen.


by JIPanick :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 4:02pm

"Too bad, Bradford is having an amazing rookie year. Best rookie QB the nation has ever seen."

I presume whichever nation you are talking about did not get NFL football in 1983.

by BigBen2004 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 4:15am

That nation must not include Pittsburgh.
13-0 with a 98.1 rating
Crushed both SB teams

by DavidL :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 9:28am

I'm also wondering if the nation was watching football two years ago. Not the BEST SEASON EVAR, but certainly comparable to what Bradford's doing, and with a way better YPA.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:29am

I think what Bradford's doing is vastly more impressive than either Roethlisberger's or Ryan's accomplishments as rookies once you factor in the quality of their respective supporting casts and the amount he is being asked to throw.

Ryan threw 434 passes as a rookie - 8th most all time.
Roethlisberger threw 295 - 43rd.
Bradford has thrown 413 through 11 games. If he continues at that pace, he will end the seaso with 601 attempts, 26 more than current rookie leader Peyton Manning. As things stand, only Manning and Chris Weinke have even gone over 500. Hell, only 11 players have gone over 600 attempts in any season of their career (Bledsoe 4 times, Moon 3 times, Brees twice, Marino 3 times, Gannon, Cutler, Favre twice, Fouts, Elway, Kenney and Brady). Bradford is being asked to carry the Rams offense in a way that Roethlisberger and Ryan simply were not required to do for the Steelers and Falcons.

The 2008 Falcons had an elite wide receiver in Roddy White, with nice complementary targets in Jenkins and Douglas, a strong offensive line and excellent running backs. The 2004 Steelers had one of the best receiver groups in football (Ward-Burress-Randle El) and the 5th ranked DVOA running game. Their sack rate was high, but I suspect a lot of that was on Roethlisberger himself - it's not really a flaw, given how good he is at making plays when things break down, but it's certainly a feature of his game that he holds the ball a long time. The Rams' rush offense DVOA is -11.5%. Their receivers are a random assortment of guys off the street. Their pass blocking is adequate, but nothing to shout about.

Bradford's circumstances are too different to those encountered by Roethlisberger or Ryan for direct comparison to be terribly useful. A better touchstone might be Peyton Manning, who played on a lousy team as a rookie and was asked to carry the offense, just as Bradford has been. On the one hand, he faced a much tougher schedule than Bradford. On the other, while most of the players around him were lousy, he had Marshall Faulk in his prime and Marvin Harrison on the cusp of emerging into his. I don't think Danny Amendola's going to blossom into a hall of famer. Manning also threw 28 interceptions. Bradford's currently on course for 13, but even that is probably an over-estimate given that he threw 8 in his first 5 games and 1 in the last 6. Manning does still hold the rookie touchdown passes record with 26; Bradford is currently on course for 25, but again, his play's been improving as the season's gone on (unsurprisingly) and I'd give him at least an even chance of beating that mark too.

Bradford will ultimately be remembered as a great player, not a player who had a great rookie season, but a great rookie season is what he's having. Probably not as great as Greg Cook's, but remarkable nonetheless - and more so, in my opinion, than Roethlisberger's or Ryan's.

by DavidL :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:00pm

Yes, Bradford is being asked to carry the Rams offense in a way that Ryan and Roethlisberger didn't - because the Falcons and Steelers were winning. Win to run, lose to pass. Bradford is still throwing the ball a truly ridiculous number of times even considering that, of course, but it's no coincidence that the guy he's got a chance to pass for the rookie record played on a 3-13 team.

Plus he's carrying an offense that's 26th in points scored, which isn't exactly a badge of honor when you're trying to make a case for all-time greatness. His TD/INT ratio is very good, and if you wanted to make the case that he's the least error-prone rookie quarterback ever I'd listen carefully. But Ryan's 62% accuracy and 7.5 YPA were impressive too, and they scored points.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:03pm

I know that in general winning causes running and losing causes passing, but I don't at all buy the notion that that is the primary driver in these cases. The Rams have only been involved in two games where they lost heavily and were in must-pass mode for a significant part of the game. Throwing a lot is part of their standard game plan, not the result of situations. To take one example, in the first half of the 20-3 win against the Seahawks, the Rams ran 26 offensive plays (excluding the time-pressured drive just before the half). 17 of those plays were passes (including sacks). 8 were runs. 1 was a scramble by Bradford, which I'm guessing was designed as a pass, though obviously I have no way of knowing for sure. That's a 2:1 pass:run ratio in a neutral situation. I can't be bothered to do the same for every game, but I doubt that's terribly atypical. The 2004 Steelers and 2008 Falcons (and the 2008 Ravens, for that matter) were extremely run heavy in neutral situations. The relative quality of the teams is certainly an issue, but it's an issue not least in that the Steelers and Falcons were good enough to make life a great deal easier for their rookie quarterbacks in a way the Rams are not.

by William Lloyd Garrision III (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 4:28pm

Agreed. I would tune in to watch a 6-10 team in the playoffs for the novelty. I watch 1-16 seed games every year in the tournament for the same reason

by max :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 7:48am

I meant to say "NEVER seen" it was a typo on my part.

The point was everyone got to see Marino and Big Ben on national TV. No one has seen or will see Bradford on national TV.


by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 10:16am

Even in the UK, we've already seen Bradford live on national TV.

He's not -that- big a secret.

by max :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 1:58pm


by Anonymus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 3:12pm

There are 8 different championships, and all champions go to the playoffs.

There are, already, the Wild Card berths to correct the brackets if some undeserving team manage to go to the playoffs just by barely winning a weak division.

There is no need for changes.

by Arkaein :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 4:04pm

I don't really like the idea of a 10-6 team staying home while a 7-9 team goes to the playoffs, the most likely "bad" scenario for the NFC this year.

The current division formats can punish teams for the sin of simply being in the same division as another good team. Why do the Rams or Seahawks deserve to be rewarded for not playing in a division with the Falcons or Eagles while the Packers, Giants, or Bucs get punished because their division is not a cakewalk.

Wild Card berths are much closer to a meritocracy than Division Championships. There's a reason these issues didn't come up as frequently with only three divisions per conference, with three Wild Card berths available. There was less opportunity to crap teams to make the playoffs, and more opportunity for good teams sharing a division with a great team to make the playoffs.

by MCS :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 9:03am

It seems to me that the NFL playoff philosophy is simple. Win your division.

If you happen to not win your division, we'll let two more teams in based on record.

Why not eliminate the wildcard completely and only send the four division winners? Suddenly that October divisional game becomes huge.

by opticallog :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 4:22pm

The NFC West is a bad division, and all the teams in it are bad. This however does not mean that there isn't some poor luck involved in making the division even worse. The 49ers in particular have lost 3 games this season on the final drive, despite dominating the entire game. They lost the Saints game on the final play despite deflecting the FG attempt, the Falcons game on the final play despite intercepting a pass with 90 seconds remaining thanks to a fumble on the return, and somehow let Matt Moore engineer a game winning drive for Carolina after David Carr was inexplicably allowed to drop back and throw a pass which was picked off. That would make them a bad 7-4 team, and not the bad 4-7 team.

Does taking those things into consideration make them a better team? Not really, but it should change the general perception of the team.

by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 4:41pm

While I sort of like the idea of disqualifying a 7-win division winner from an automatic playoff berth, I'd say it remains unlikely that either the NFCW winner has a losing record OR that a 10-win NFC team misses the playoffs, simply because of cumulative probabilities. Looking ahead while it seems likely that the Rams and Seahawks each lose 3 games, the likelihood that one of them will win 3 (plus the longer odds that SF wins 4 of 5) probably cracks 50%. Similarly, looking individually at Eagles, Giants, Packers, Bucs (well, maybe not Bucs), and certainly Bears and Saints, seems like each is more likely than not to get to 10 wins; but cumulatively I'd bet it's at least even money that 2 of those teams don't. If I had to bet on win totals for NFCW winner and #7 NFC team, I'd guess 8 and 9, which would hardly be a travesty. Let's see what actually happens before we convene the rule committee.

by Spielman :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 6:12pm

But it's so much more fun to get the outrage going preemptively!

by Anonymous7777 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 7:52pm

There is absolutely no reason why we have this divisional system. With four teams per division it was inevitable that a sub-.500 team would make the playoffs, in fact, it will be a reasonably frequent occurrence. Just wait until a 12-4 team misses the postseason so a 7-9 team (or two, it's possible!) make the playoffs and get home games.

Even if we must suffer this system, the NFL needs to take away the guaranteed home game. It will make for more meaningful games the last two weeks of the season as teams that have locked up wild card spots but cannot win their division can still play for a home game, as would the potential division winners with weak records.

What I'd really like to see is just two conferences with each team playing each team once per season and only one crossover game (or three, when they go to eighteen games).

by Jerry P. :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:06am

Just wait until a 12-4 team misses the postseason so a 7-9 team (or two, it's possible!) make the playoffs and get home games.

Is poster drunk?

So let's see here. A 12-4 team misses the playoffs so a 7-9 division winner gets in. Ok...so...

The 12-4 team is in a division with a 12-4 or better division winner.
There are not one but two 12-4 or better wild card teams which means...
There are two more 12-4 or better division winners in those team's division since...
The 7-9 division winner cannot have a 12-4 or better team in their division.

For anyone keeping score that's six...count 'em folks SIX 12-4 or better teams concentrated in 3 divisions so that one 12-4 team stays home.

And the NFL won't go to an every team plays every other team in their conference system because then the NFC West would be on equal footing by not having to travel thousands of miles more than the rest of the teams in the conference which is what causes this stupidity to begin with.

It's not an accident that the NFC West looked better in games (win or lose) against the AFC West than the NFC South. I'm willing to bet every year the "NFC West is gonna have a 7-9 winner horse" gets flogged is in a season where they have to face a division concentrated in the east on top of their division schedule which makes them travel more miles and across more timezones than any other division.

PS - Fun fact. The Patriots travel 100 more miles for their three away divisional games than the Seahawks do just visiting the Rams. This is only because Miami is so far from the rest of its' division otherwise it's not even close.

PPS - Since going to four divisions only three times has a single division had two 12+ winners. All three times was the AFC South. One of those times there was an 8-8 division winner (SD) but it did not cost a 10+ win team a playoff spot. Twice it cost 10-6 teams to miss the playoffs at the cost of a 10-6 team winning its' division (NE once and BAL once). At no point has there been even two divisions with two 12+ win teams. Ravens came close to making this happen in '08 but it would not have affected playoff berths, only seedings (possibly).

Can we tone down the hyperbole just a little?

Edit: Clarified some stats.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 3:05pm

Couldn't you have four 12-4 teams in one division, with the fourth missing out on the playoffs? Or 5 teams spread over 2 divisions? I'm not sure which is more likely.

Also, look how close we came to your 6-over-3 scenario in 2008. Reverse these results, and we have it:

MIA L by 1 to HOU
NE L by 3 in OT to NYJ
BAL L by 3 to TEN
SD W by 1 over KC (which happened TWICE)
DEN W by 2 over NO

Basically 5 field goals away from doomsday. As it actually played out, we "only" had an 11-5 team miss at the expense of an 8-8 team.

Not saying it is likely. I just thought it was interesting to look closer at this scenario.

EDIT: For fun, here is what would have had to change in 1985 (when there were only 3 divisions) in order to get a 12-4 team to miss at the expense of a 7-9.

CLE W by 4 over NE (CLE was 8-8, NE 11-5)
NYJ L by 11 to DET
DEN L by 4 to LA Rams

by miqewalsh :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:59pm

Yes, the NFC West is really struggling this year, but there's another division which could possibly produce a 7-9 champion! Maybe not as likely, but...

JACKSONVILLE (6-5): loses at TEN, loses vs OAK, wins at IND, loses vs WAS, loses at HOU. Finishes 7-9.

INDIANAPOLIS (6-5): loses vs DAL, loses at TEN, loses vs JAX, loses at OAK, wins vs TEN. Finishes 7-9.

HOUSTON (5-6): loses at PHI, loses vs BAL, wins at TEN, loses at DEN, wins vs JAX. Finishes 7-9.

TENNESSEE (5-6): wins vs JAX, wins vs IND, loses vs HOU, loses at KC, loses at IND. Finishes 7-9.

Admittedly, extending the Colts' losing streak to six before the end of the season probably means Peyton Manning throwing to OLs the rest of the year, but the rest of the results are plausible, since this division seems, on average, only one game better overall than their NFC West cousins.

(In this scenario, it is the 7-9 Texans who win the division on the strength of their 4-2 division record.)

by Keasley (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:53pm

That would be a very fitting outcome for the Texans, given the franchise history (though the classic Texans would finish 8-8)