2011 College Football Rankings – Week 11

All season I’ve been saying the same thing: that no one, not even the pollsters, really believes that Oklahoma State is the best non-SEC team in the country. There are a number of reasons for that – namely, a weak nonconference slate and Texas being the only team in positive B Points they beat by more than a single score – but really, what it ultimately comes down to is that it’s Oklahoma State. This is a team that has definitively been “little brother” for the longest time, maybe since Barry Sanders was at the school. Over the last decade, while Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma was contending for national and Big 12 titles, Oklahoma State, while often being good, plied its trade deep in the shadows of the Sooners. Now it’s Oklahoma State who’s contending for a national title? You’ll have to excuse me – and, I suspect, many others – for being a bit skeptical.

Well, not anymore. By blowing out the team that beat Oklahoma (admittedly, that hasn’t looked like they can beat anyone else) by a downright apocalyptic score (66-6), Oklahoma State has established their dominance, and with upsets to the Cardinal and Broncos, now stand as one of only three undefeated teams in the country, enough to propel them past idle Big Brother to the top spot in the C Ratings. As much as the Cowboys look like last year’s Oregon team (essentially, a sacrificial lamb for the SEC team du jour to beat), the argument over whether they should go to the national championship game is pretty much academic at this point.

How the C Ratings are tabulated: First, A Ratings are tabulated by multiplying the total score ratio, which is expressed by (points-opponents’ points)/points, by the winning percentage. Score ratio minimizes the effect of running up the score. Next, B Points for each game are tabulated by (margin of victory)/(opponent’s A rating)+/-1 for wins, and -(margin of loss)/(1-opponent’s A Rating)+/-1 for losses. The “+/-” is + for road games and – for home ones. The total number of B Points is multiplied by the A Rating to get the B Rating. Finally, the C Rating is tabulated by taking one-tenth the difference between the team’s B Rating and the average of his opponents’ B Ratings and taking the result off the B Rating. The three ratings go A, B, C across. Click here to see the complete ratings.

1 Oklahoma State B12 #1 BCS Title
10-0 LW: #5 A Rat: .728 B Rating: 49.978 C Rating: 42.806 AP: 2 BCS: 2
How many people watched the potential national championship contender Friday night in their tuneup for Bedlam?
2 Oklahoma B12 #2 2010 TCU
8-1 LW: #1 A Rat: .674 B Rating: 49.507 C Rating: 42.541 AP: 5 BCS: 5
Idle hands sends the Sooners tumbling from the top spot, but not to who you’d think. And they have to face a Baylor team out to prove they deserve their ranking in the polls.
3 LSU SEC #1 ’06 Boise St.
10-0 LW: #2 A Rat: .821 B Rating: 47.947 C Rating: 42.286 AP: 1 BCS: 1
Playing Western Kentucky, the Tigers might as well have taken the week off, and Ole Miss won’t be much better preparation for the clash with the Hogs.
4 Alabama SEC #2 BCS Title
9-1 LW: #3 A Rat: .775 B Rating: 48.648 C Rating: 42.193 AP: 3 BCS: 3
As far as the polls and BCS are concerned, Alabama is in prime position to take advantage of a Cowboy stumble… but do we really want THAT rematch in the national title game?
5 Oregon P12 #1 ’09 Boise St.
9-1 LW: #7 A Rat: .672 B Rating: 39.919 C Rating: 34.071 AP: 4 BCS: 4
The Ducks have lost only one game all year… and it was against a little team I like to call LSU. Now the polls and BCS are recognizing them as the national-championship-caliber team they are.
6 Boise State MWC #1 MWC Title
8-1 LW: #4 A Rat: .676 B Rating: 34.219 C Rating: 28.631 AP: 10 BCS: 10
All of a sudden, the Broncos are hoping for a TCU loss just to go to the Las Vegas Bowl.
7 Wisconsin B10 #1 Big 10 Title
8-2 LW: #8 A Rat: .641 B Rating: 28.938 C Rating: 22.315 AP: 15 BCS: 17
Their two losses came on the road to decent teams by tight margins, but as far as the polls are concerend, two losses are two losses. But now the Badgers control their own destiny for the conference title game.
8 Stanford P12 #2 BCS Title
9-1 LW: #6 A Rat: .692 B Rating: 22.831 C Rating: 16.952 AP: 8 BCS: 9
Suddenly the Cardinal won’t even make the conference championship, and only the grace of the BCS would put them in one of those games. And rival Cal is feisty.
9 Houston USA #1 BCS Bowl
10-0 LW: #9 A Rat: .768 B Rating: 24.283 C Rating: 15.538 AP: 11 BCS: 11
Houston just continues to impress, and now Gameday is coming to town – for a game that’s arguably the least challenging of the remaining games.
10 Michigan B10 #2 Big 10 Title
8-2 LW: #12 A Rat: .569 B Rating: 16.826 C Rating: 13.437 AP: 20 BCS: 18
Big win over a good Illinois team sends the Wolverines cruising up the rankings. But Nebraska is coming to Ann Arbor, and they will not be easy.
11 Southern Miss USA #2 C-USA Title
9-1 LW: #10 A Rat: .622 B Rating: 14.578 C Rating: 10.209 AP: 22 BCS: 20
Is Southern Miss cracking under the pressure? They let Central Florida get within one at home, and they’ll fall next week after losing to UAB.
12 Notre Dame   Bowl Position
7-3 LW: #13 A Rat: .449 B Rating: 11.179 C Rating: 8.491 AP: 24 Coaches: 25
Pollsters are taking note of the Golden Domers again. Another weak ACC foe will serve as tune-up for a huge clash with Stanford.
13 Virginia Tech ACC #1 Prncton/Yale
9-1 LW: #14 A Rat: .607 B Rating: 11.816 C Rating: 8.373 AP: 9 BCS: 8
To look at the pollsters, you’d think V-Tech was a national title contender; honestly, no one thinks that. But they’re one Cavalier loss away, even at their own hands, from the ACC title game.
14 Georgia SEC #3 SEC Title
8-2 LW: #19 A Rat: .558 B Rating: 11.229 C Rating: 8.366 AP: 13 BCS: 14
The Tigers were ranked in the polls, but they looked like complete scrubs against Georgia, who have been justifying their own ranking of late. Now to beat Kentucky to lock up a trip to the SEC title game.
15 Clemson ACC #2 ACC Title
9-1 LW: #11 A Rat: .584 B Rating: 11.883 C Rating: 8.241 AP: 7 BCS: 7
Clemson was so unimpressive in edging Wake and locking up their ACC title game spot that, combined with how their past opponents did, they might as well not have played, or even lost. Will they be ready for the rival Cocks in two weeks?
16 TCU MWC #2 MWC Title
8-2 LW: #18 A Rat: .554 B Rating: 12.695 C Rating: 8.072 AP: 19 BCS: 19
Lucky or not, TCU impressed the nation with their win over Boise and could be leaving the conference with a bang.
17 Arkansas SEC #3 SEC Title
9-1 LW: #21 A Rat: .614 B Rating: 11.888 C Rating: 7.312 AP: 6 BCS: 6
Arkansas’ defense gave them an even bigger blowout win over Tennessee, this one big enough to actually help them in the C Ratings. They need to repeat the feat against Mississippi State to prepare for LSU.
18 Nebraska B10 #3 Big 10 Title
8-2 LW: #20 A Rat: .527 B Rating: 8.382 C Rating: 5.837 AP: 17 BCS: 16
It wasn’t pretty, but the Huskers did take advantage of reeling Penn State, and while beating the Wolverines won’t be easy, if they do so they’ll be in prime position to take advantage of a Spartan stumble.
19 South Carolina SEC #4 SEC Title
8-2 LW: #16 A Rat: .520 B Rating: 7.007 C Rating: 4.435 AP: 14 BCS: 12
A narrow victory over a Florida team not up to their usual standards won’t cut it. They’ll drop further next week after playing the FCS Citadel.
20 USC P12 #3 Probation
8-2 LW: #26 A Rat: .521 B Rating: 7.741 C Rating: 4.379 AP: 18 SBNBlog: 18
While the rest of the South embarass themselves, USC’s blowout of Washington propel them back onto the Top 25. But Oregon will not be easy.
21 Texas A&M B12 #3 Bowl Elgblty
5-5 LW: #15 A Rat: .302 B Rating: 5.827 C Rating: 4.192
All but one of A&M’s losses came to teams ranked in the polls at the time, all but one came to teams ranked in the C Ratings now, all but one was within a score… but losses are losses, and they’re nowhere near the polls and not yet bowl-eligible.
22 Florida State ACC #3 Bowl Position
7-3 LW: #22 A Rat: .501 B Rating: 6.729 C Rating: 3.832 AP: 23 BCS: 25
Pedestrian four-point win over Miami (FL), and now Clemson will keep them out of the conference title game. On the plus side, they’re getting poll respect and can play spoiler in the Coastal against Virginia.
23 Penn State B10 #3 Big 10 Title
8-2 LW: #17 A Rat: .525 B Rating: 5.467 C Rating: 3.636 AP: 21 BCS: 21
Pollsters may be penalizing the Nittany Lions for off-field discretions, but that doesn’t explain why the C Ratings drop Penn State so far for a tight loss against a good Nebraska team. Ohio State smells blood.
24 Toledo MAC #1 MAC Title
6-4 LW: #23 A Rat: .355 B Rating: 4.490 C Rating: 2.452
Allowing over 60 points is never good for score ratio, and keeping the margin of victory tight isn’t good either, but Toledo did better than that against Central Michigan.
25 Missouri* B12 #4 Bowl Elgblty
5-5 LW: #31 A Rat: .298 B Rating: .617 C Rating: .708
Big win over Texas propels the Tigers into positive B Points and has them replacing the Longhorns on the Top 25 – even if as just the best of a bad lot.


25 teams total with positive C Rating (none with negative B Rating)

Off Top 25: #27 Arizona State (was #24), #31 Texas (was #25)

Watch List: #26 Rutgers, #27 Arizona State, #28 Miami (FL), #29 Michigan State*

Other Positive B Ratings: #33 Tulsa*, #36 Ohio, #39 Northern Illinois* (*=Newly Positive)

No Longer Positive: #31 Texas, #32 Georgia Tech, #37 Cincinnati, #41 Iowa

Bottom 10: #111 Kansas, #112 Buffalo, #113 UNLV, #114 Colorado, #115 UAB, #116 Florida Atlantic, #117 Akron, #118 Tulane, #119 Memphis, #120 New Mexico

Best game of week: USC @ Oregon, 5pm PT, ABC

NFL Schedule: Week 11

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
WEST
45-4
56-3
All others at 4-5
EAST
36-3
66-3
2 tied at 5-4
NORTH
27-3
5-4
2 tied at 6-3 5-4
SOUTH
17-3
5-4
5-4
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
EAST
46-3
56-3
5-4
SOUTH
37-3
66-3
5-4
WEST
28-1
5-4
2 tied at 3-6 5-4
NORTH
19-0
2 tied at 6-3

To help me see where I’d rather have the playoff picture chart, I’m reposting it on this post this week. Last four byes this week: three really good teams… and the Colts.

What is the Median Expected Score?

Away MXS Home Time (ET) TV DTV Announcers NTR SIRIUS Notes
Away Home
#T13(5-4) 22¾-16¼ #20(4-5) Thu 8:20 PM Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan WW1 92 93 Jets try to bounce back from getting embarrassed in primetime.
#27(2-7) 20¼-27¼ #10(6-3) Sun 1:00 PM 710 Dick Stockton, John Lynch 113 91 Suh and the Lions defense try to get back on track against Newton and the Panthers.
#19(4-5) 17¼-31¼ #1(9-0) Sun 1:00 PM 711 Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver USA 136 86 Bucs may need to score the huge upset in the Battle of Bays to stay in playoff contention.
#12(5-4) 24½-17 #28(3-6) Sun 1:00 PM 709 Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa CMP 93 134 Cowboys hope to take advantage of their struggling rivals to keep pace in the playoff race.
#11(6-3) 16¾-23¾ #7(6-3) Sun 1:00 PM 708 Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf WW1 112 92 Big showdown for a share of the AFC North lead and the top wild-card spot.
#15(5-4) 23-22 #25(2-7) Sun 1:00 PM 704 Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots 85 117 Mystified at Raiders being only a one-point favorite over a bad Vikings team.
#16(5-4) 20½-22½ #29(2-7) Sun 1:00 PM 706 Marv Albert, Rich Gannon 137 94 Don’t get too excited Fins fans – you’re still closer to Luck than the playoffs, but the Bills are reeling.
#26(3-6) 16¾-17¾ #31(3-6) Sun 1:00 PM 707 Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker 104 132 The Jags defense is starting to make noise for fantasy teams, and the Browns offense should oblige.
#23(3-6) 18-21 #30(2-7) Sun 4:05 PM 712 Chris Myers, Tim Ryan 106 138 The Rams want to recover something from their season, but the Hawks got an even huger win.
#24(3-6) 15¾-25¼ #2(8-1) Sun 4:05 PM 713 Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin CMP 139 92 The Niners continue their march to dominate the NFC West.
#17(5-4) 19-25 #T13(5-4) Sun 4:15 PM 705 Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts WW1 85 93 Interconference showdown between two teams fighting for a playoff spot.
#18(4-5) 20¾-24¼ #8(6-3) Sun 4:15 PM 714 Jim Nantz, Phil Simms USA 86 94 Two name teams fighting for the playoffs but going in different directions.
#21(3-6) 21½-25½ #9(6-3) Sun 8:20 PM Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya WW1 92 93 If the Dream Team couldn’t beat the lowly Cardinals, what could they possibly do against the Giants?
#22(4-5) 15¾-30¾ #5(6-3) Mon 8:30 PM Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber WW1 92 93 The Chiefs have started looking horrible again, and the Patriots will be no help.

Bye:

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 10

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For Weeks 10-15, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site (note that this was written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it contradicts the above – and the page it comes from, for that matter):

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 the first year of flexible scheduling, but are now protected after Week 5; however, they are back to Week 4 this year, probably for the same reason as that first year: NBC hosting a Christmas night game and the other games being moved to Saturday.
  • Three teams can appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. At this writing, no team is completely tapped out at any measure; five teams have five primetime appearances each, but all of them have at least one game that can be flexed out. A list of all teams’ primetime appearances is in my first two posts for Weeks 4 and 5.
  • Last year’s selection of primetime games was weighted rather heavily towards Fox games. This year, the selection currently leans CBS 22, FOX 20 (though if I miscounted one game it may be even). My guess is that the balance will continue to lean towards the AFC. Weeks 10, 12, 13, and 15 are all CBS games, while Weeks 11 and 14 are FOX.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 10 (November 13):

  • Selected game: New England @ NY Jets.

Week 11 (November 20):

  • Selected game: Philadelphia @ NY Giants.

Week 12 (November 17):

  • Selected game: Pittsburgh @ Kansas City.

Week 13 (December 4):

  • Tentative game: None. For the first time ever, the NFL has announced that it is pulling a game out of primetime before the two-week deadline – Colts-Pats has become that sucky. Notably, they haven’t announced a replacement yet, which suggests there are multiple candidates…
  • Protected games: Jets-Redskins (CBS) and Packers-Giants (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Lions-Saints had the early lead, and may have re-taken it, but Bengals-Steelers has the exact same pair of records. Falcons-Texans is probably third, Titans-Bills is in the mix, and Chiefs-Bears and Broncos-Chargers are dark horses.
  • Analysis: Lions-Saints would probably win a tiebreaker if the Lions and Bengals both win or both lose, but the Lions’ hot start has largely faded into the background as a story. These aren’t the Palmer-Ochocinco Bengals, and heaven only knows if they’ll make any noise in the playoffs, but if a battle of 7-3 teams gets passed over for inferior games in a week where the tentative game bias isn’t a factor it makes a mockery of the notion that teams can “play their way into primetime” (even if it arguably applies to the Lions). Falcons-Texans has a legitimate shot if the Lions and Bengals both lose and the Falcons win, but I suspect the NFL would still go with Lions-Saints then; Titans-Bills likely has no shot at all. Basically, it’s Lions-Saints unless the Lions lose to the lowly Panthers and the Bengals beat the Ravens, and it might still be Lions-Saints even then.

Week 14 (December 11):

  • Tentative game: NY Giants @ Dallas
  • Prospects: NFC East clash, with both teams moderately good and the division lead potentially on the line. A flex isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but one or both teams would have to completely collapse and the other game would have to sweep the NFL off its feet. Combine that with a paucity of NFC road games, and no wonder Fox left this week unprotected.
  • Protected games: Patriots-Redskins (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Texans-Bengals and Saints-Titans are the only games involving two teams over .500. Bills-Chargers, Raiders-Packers, Broncos-Bears, and Chiefs-Jets are dark horses.

Week 15 (December 18):

  • Tentative game: Baltimore @ San Diego
  • Prospects: At one point this game was the only one of NBC’s tentatives involving two teams above .500. Might the Chargers’ mid-season swoon be putting this one in flex jeopardy? Maybe not, given the alternatives.
  • Protected games: Jets-Eagles (CBS) and Redskins-Giants (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Lions-Raiders, Packers-Chiefs, and Patriots-Broncos are the only remotely good options, and Lions-Raiders is the only one involving two teams over .500.

Week 17 (January 1):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
WEST
45-4
56-3
All others at 4-5
EAST
36-3
66-3
2 tied at 5-4
NORTH
27-3
5-4
2 tied at 6-3 5-4
SOUTH
17-3
5-4
5-4
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-5)
EAST
46-3
56-3
5-4
SOUTH
37-3
66-3
5-4
WEST
28-1
5-4
2 tied at 3-6 5-4
NORTH
19-0
2 tied at 6-3
  • No votes on the poll and the person I usually turn to in these sorts of situations is sitting on the question, so I’m keeping the playoff picture here, and re-opening the poll, for another week.
  • Possible games: Cowboys-Giants, Titans-Texans, Lions-Packers, Ravens-Bengals, Bucs-Falcons, Bills-Patriots, Chargers-Raiders, Chiefs-Broncos.

“Our logo is a fork. Our logo has always been a fork.”

(From MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck. Click for full-sized all-purpose baking utensil.)

Homestuck has been undeniably awesome so far… but reading a recent Tumblr post of Hussie’s, it’s also exhibited an example of something not to do.

Aspiring Webcomickers Everywhere, do not bend your story just to do something you think is cool. Do a side strip, or do a non-canon intermission, or something, but if you’re doing a story-heavy comic, everything that happens in your comic should serve the needs of the story, not the other way around. And certainly don’t change the basic cornerstones of how the story goes in order to do something cool.

Hussie knows this – the Midnight Crew, the dark counterparts of the Problem Sleuthers, never appeared in PS proper, instead sticking to bonus material before becoming key figures in Homestuck – and he mentions coming up with this idea about two years ago, or almost as far back as the age of the comic itself. But two years ago, Homestuck was already in the midst of Act 3, and Hussie mentions the idea spinning out of the ectobiological origins of the kids and guardians, suggesting at least some of the comic was already established by that point.

I’m hopeful these new kids will prove to be important enough to the plot we’ve been following for the last five acts that their value will be more than just Hussie wanting to do something cool, that Hussie will prove a good enough writer to integrate them at least as seamlessly as he did the trolls – and in fact there’s evidence that Jake, who we’re meeting now, is the penpal who helped Jade make the “ultimate bunny” (but if that’s the case, why don’t I recognize his old-timey dialogue from his notes to John?) – but I’m going to be reading cautiously until then, if I decide to read at all before we get back to the plot.

Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 12 Picks

Week 12 (November 17):

  • Tentative game: Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
  • Prospects: 7-3 v. 4-5. After rallying from an 0-3 start to climb above .500 at 4-3, the Chiefs have lost two straight. Hmm. They’re still only a game out of the division lead, but this could still prove lopsided.
  • Protected games: Patriots-Eagles (CBS) and Bears-Raiders (FOX).
  • Other possible games mentioned on Wednesday’s Watch and their records: Bills (5-4)-Jets (5-4), Bucs (4-5)-Titans (5-4), Bengals (6-3)-Browns (3-6).
  • Impact of Monday Night Football: None.
  • Analysis: Thanksgiving Weekend usually means a paucity of good games. Had the Bills and Jets both won, it would be hard to argue against their game. As it stands, the best game being a battle of 5-4 teams isn’t going to overcome the tentative game bias. (The Jets would be maxed out on NBC appearances, but with Jets-Dolphins the Week 17 game and protections Weeks 13 and 15, they probably don’t have any more flex opportunities anyway.)
  • Final prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (no change).
  • Actual selection: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (no change).

2011 College Football Rankings – Week 10

Well, that was disappointing. Neither team is going to get the top spot coming out of it. No, Oklahoma responded to moving up to #2 by blowing out a good Texas A&M team, and as a result they, not LSU, benefit from Alabama falling out of the top spot. We’ll see if they hang onto it after a week off, but if Stanford loses and Oklahoma keeps winning I will definitely push them for a trip to the national championship game.

But let’s forget about that, and let’s forget about this week’s huge matchup between Stanford and Oregon, and let’s even forget about the mess at Penn State. I want to talk about this week’s game between Boise State and TCU.

I have another commitment, so I won’t be able to watch the game, but I would if I could and I hope you will too. And not because it’s Boise’s biggest challenge, at least for the rest of the season, towards getting another BCS bid. See, last year Boise State announced that it was leaving the WAC to join the Mountain West. This looked for all the world to create the ultimate non-BCS conference, with so many good teams there was no way anyone would stop them from becoming a full-fledged BCS conference. Utah, BYU, TCU, and Boise State? You’re going to tell me that’s any less a test of a champion than the Big East? And this was when it was looking like the Pac-10 was going to cause college football armageddon, gobbling up half the Big 12 to form the first 16-team superconference. The Mountain West was in perfect position to pick off at least some of the remainder, meaning that along with the four elite teams it already had, it would now boast some bona fide BCS conference teams on top of that. Are you going to deny BCS status to Kansas and Kansas State? Didn’t think so.

And then… the deal fell through. The Big 12 and ESPN finagled a way to keep the conference together, the Pac-10 was left with Colorado, they plucked Utah from the Mountain West to get to 12 and a championship game, and that’s when it all started going wrong. First it was Utah. Then BYU left to go independent. And then TCU announced it was leaving for the Big East, and then flipped to the Big 12 without playing a game in the Big East. Just like that, the one elite non-BCS school the Mountain West was left with was the school that thought they wouldn’t be the one elite school in the conference anymore: Boise State. The Mountain West made up for the losses by adding more WAC schools – Nevada, Fresno State – but Boise State, who thought they were joining the non-BCS conference to end all non-BCS conferences, now found themselves in a conference not much different from the WAC, and maybe worse than Conference USA. Is Air Force really that much better than Nevada?

But TCU’s move to the Big East came too late for it to take effect this season. That meant that, for one season, Boise State would come in to and TCU would remain in a depleted conference, before the Horned Frogs left for a BCS conference the following year. So this weekend’s game between Boise State and TCU is more than the biggest game of the year in the Mountain West. For all that Boise thought their move to the Mountain West would break up the BCS oligarchy, this weekend they will play the one game their move to the Mountain West amounts to.

How the C Ratings are tabulated: First, A Ratings are tabulated by multiplying the total score ratio, which is expressed by (points-opponents’ points)/points, by the winning percentage. Score ratio minimizes the effect of running up the score. Next, B Points for each game are tabulated by (margin of victory)/(opponent’s A rating)+/-1 for wins, and -(margin of loss)/(1-opponent’s A Rating)+/-1 for losses. The “+/-” is + for road games and – for home ones. The total number of B Points is multiplied by the A Rating to get the B Rating. Finally, the C Rating is tabulated by taking one-tenth the difference between the team’s B Rating and the average of his opponents’ B Ratings and taking the result off the B Rating. The three ratings go A, B, C across. Click here to see the complete ratings.

1 Oklahoma B12 #1 2010 TCU
8-1 LW: #2 A Rat: .674 B Rating: 51.093 C Rating: 44.248 AP: 7 BCS: 6
Not only have the Sooners beaten multiple good teams, they’ve blown them out. You’re telling me they’d be passed up for Boise or, heaven forbid, Alabama?
2 LSU SEC #1 ’06 Boise St.
9-0 LW: #3 A Rat: .813 B Rating: 47.166 C Rating: 42.202 AP: 1 BCS: 1
LSU is now in pole position to cruise to the BCS title game, but they better use the Western Kentucky and Mississippi games to get ready for a potentially huge clash with Arkansas.
3 Alabama SEC #2 BCS Title
8-1 LW: #1 A Rat: .766 B Rating: 42.836 C Rating: 37.022 AP: 4 BCS: 3
The Tide’s run at the top spot comes to an end along with their undefeated record. They’ll try to get back on track with a trip to Mississippi State.
4 Boise State MWC #1 BCS Title
8-0 LW: #4 A Rat: .794 B Rating: 41.152 C Rating: 34.650 AP: 5 BCS: 5
Will the Broncos players savor this weekend’s game against TCU? Or will they just play for their BCS lives?
5 Oklahoma State B12 #2 BCS Title
9-0 LW: #6 A Rat: .703 B Rating: 38.108 C Rating: 32.783 AP: 2 BCS: 2
The Cowboys put away a team that was unbeaten until the Oklahoma game and now turn their attention to the team that upended the Sooners.
6 Stanford P12 #1 BCS Title
9-0 LW: #5 A Rat: .823 B Rating: 36.517 C Rating: 29.278 AP: 3 BCS: 4
Oregon State’s A Rating is atrocious, so Stanford slips despite the big win. But the Beavers’ rivals may be the biggest test the Cardinal face all year.
7 Oregon P12 #2 ’09 Boise State
8-1 LW: #7 A Rat: .667 B Rating: 26.542 C Rating: 21.921 AP: 6 BCS: 7
Oregon could be a national championship contender if they hadn’t scheduled LSU to start the year. Against Stanford, they’ll have a chance to look like one.
8 Wisconsin B10 #1 Big 10 Title
7-2 LW: #8 A Rat: .619 B Rating: 24.689 C Rating: 19.046 AP: 16 BCS: 18
Wisconsin got back on track blowing out Purdue. Now Minnesota will serve as warm-up for a tough stretch run.
9 Houston USA #1 BCS Bowl
9-0 LW: #9 A Rat: .756 B Rating: 21.456 C Rating: 14.616 AP: 11 BCS: 11
Another week, another blowout – two, counting the Tulane game earlier this week.
10 Southern Miss USA #2 C-USA Title
8-1 LW: #16 A Rat: .632 B Rating: 15.476 C Rating: 11.334 AP: 25 BCS: 22
While the AP poll finally has no choice but to recognize the Eagles, their blowout of East Carolina propels them into the top 10 here, right behind the class of the conference.
11 Clemson ACC #1 ACC Title
8-1 LW: #11 A Rat: .587 B Rating: 12.734 C Rating: 9.262 AP: 9 BCS: 9
Idle hands offset by Michigan’s problems, but now their hopes of making the conference title game may hinge on beating Wake Forest.
12 Michigan B10 #2 Big 10 Title
7-2 LW: #10 A Rat: .548 B Rating: 11.867 C Rating: 8.904 AP: 22 BCS: 24
Iowa is a pretty respectable team and the Wolverines got within a score, but that’s still not a loss you want to take, especially with the Spartans now holding divisional pole position.
13 Notre Dame   Bowl Position
6-3 LW: #19 A Rat: .419 B Rating: 8.723 C Rating: 6.678
The Golden Domers are once again knocking on the door of the polls after a win over a good team, and now shouldn’t have any trouble with 2-7 Maryland.
14 Virginia Tech ACC #2 ACC Title
8-1 LW: #15 A Rat: .602 B Rating: 8.804 C Rating: 5.758 AP: 10 BCS: 10
Idle hands outweighed by Nebraska losing. And now that they’ve dispatched Georgia Tech, if they handle North Carolina as they should Virginia will be their only obstacle for the title game.
15 Texas A&M B12 #3 Bowl Elgblty
5-4 LW: #17 A Rat: .342 B Rating: 6.794 C Rating: 5.284
The Aggies get blown out by Oklahoma and somehow move up. Well, it was 16 points to the best team in the rankings. But it doesn’t get that much easier with a trip to Manhattan next.
16 South Carolina SEC #3 SEC Title
7-2 LW: #13 A Rat: .506 B Rating: 7.297 C Rating: 5.020 AP: 15 BCS: 13
The Gamecocks got blown out by the Hogs, but still have a good chance to win the division. Florida comes to town next.
17 Penn State B10 #3 Big 10 Title
8-1 LW: #14 A Rat: .607 B Rating: 7.138 C Rating: 4.910 AP: 12 BCS: 12
Joe Paterno ends his career on a 7-game winning streak and his team bowling, but lost his last bowl game, last year’s Outback Bowl against Florida – and will have never coached against Nebraska in a conference game, a tall act for Tom Bradley.
18 TCU MWC #2 MWC Title
7-2 LW: #25 A Rat: .555 B Rating: 10.132 C Rating: 4.866 Coaches: 24
Huge win over Wyoming + losses by other teams = the Horned Frogs may have stopped shuffling on and off the rankings, just in time for the big showdown with Boise State.
19 Georgia SEC #4 SEC Title
7-2 LW: #23 A Rat: .523 B Rating: 6.062 C Rating: 4.189 AP: 14 BCS: 15
Blowout win over New Mexico State propels the Bulldogs into the top 20, and for the moment they hold pole position in the SEC East. But Auburn isn’t New Mexico State.
20 Nebraska B10 #4 Big 10 Title
7-2 LW: #12 A Rat: .519 B Rating: 6.618 C Rating: 4.114 AP: 19 BCS: 19
Aaaaand one loss to a mediocre Northwestern team later, and the Huskers have given up all the gains they made last week. Who knows what’ll happen when they play scandal-ridden Penn State?
21 Arkansas SEC #4 SEC Title
8-1 LW: #21 A Rat: .583 B Rating: 7.578 C Rating: 3.564 AP: 8 BCS: 8
Blowout win over South Carolina, but they see no benefit from it. Now Tennessee and Mississippi State will serve as warm-ups for the showdown with LSU.
22 Florida State ACC #3 ACC Title
6-3 LW: #22 A Rat: .487 B Rating: 6.208 C Rating: 3.390
With teams losing, Florida State stands pat despite idle hands. Now to take on their less-recently-scandal-ridden rivals.
23 Toledo MAC #1 MAC Title
5-4 LW: #18 A Rat: .333 B Rating: 4.921 C Rating: 3.255
Toledo will bounce back next week after another 120-point game attracting national attention. Will it attract poll votes their way?
24 Arizona State P12 #3 Pac-12 Title
6-3 LW: #20 A Rat: .422 B Rating: 4.886 C Rating: 2.419
That was a loss the Sun Devils could not take. They play nothing but bad-to-iffy teams the rest of the way, but it won’t make up for costing themselves a trip to the conference title game.
25 Texas* B12 #4 Big 12 Title
6-2 LW: #33 A Rat: .498 B Rating: 4.919 C Rating: 2.233 AP: 21 BCS: 16
Blowout win over Texas Tech propels the Longhorns back into the Top 25, just in time for a tough stretch that starts with a road trip to Missouri.


28 teams total with positive C Rating (none with negative B Rating)

Princeton-Yale Title: #27 Georgia Tech (7-2), .482, 3.251, .258

Off Top 25: #26 USC (was #24)

Watch List: #26 USC, #27 Georgia Tech, #28 Miami (FL), #29 Cincinnati*, #30 Rutgers

Other Positive B Ratings: #32 Iowa, #38 Ohio (*=Newly Positive)

No Longer Positive: #35 West Virginia

Bottom 10: #111 Kansas, #112 Buffalo, #113 UNLV, #114 Colorado, #115 Akron, #116 Florida Atlantic, #117 UAB, #118 Tulane, #119 Memphis, #120 New Mexico

Best game of week: Oregon @ Stanford, 5pm PT, ABC

NFL Schedule: Week 10

No thanks to Awful Announcing, you get the schedule a day after the Thursday Night game. I’ve kept the MXS and records for that game what they were prior to the game. AA says they should have it up Wednesday or Thursday afternoon from now on, but if they don’t next week I may have to look for a site that posts complete announcer information for each game before Thursday – I don’t use the506 because in my experience, they don’t do sideline reporters. Speaking of the506, they’re the real problem; the thread I get radio assignments from wasn’t updated late Thursday night, after the game was over.

And with that, we are now in the second half of the NFL season, with some teams crossing the border last week.

What is the Median Expected Score?

Away MXS Home Time (ET) TV DTV Announcers NTR SIRIUS Notes
Away Home
#19(4-4) 20½-27½ #16(4-4) Thu 8:20 PM Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan WW1 92 93 Showdown for divisional supremacy kicks off the Thursday Night schedule.
#28(2-6) 16¼-30¼ #17(3-5) Sun 1:00 PM 710 Dick Stockton, John Lynch, Jennifer Hale 137 85 After the loss to the Bears, can the Eagles get back on track, or are the Cards too desperate for respect?
#26(2-6) 20¼-17¼ #32(0-9) Sun 1:00 PM 708 Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein 106 112 More bad news: Colts are now the last winless team. Can they get off the schnide against the Jags?
#24(3-5) 19¼-22¼ #20(4-4) Sun 1:00 PM 709 Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker CMP 113 94 The Chiefs just got embarrassed by the Dolphins, and now they have Tim Tebow to deal with.
#6(6-3) 22¼-19¼ #9(6-2) Sun 1:00 PM 707 Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts USA 91 82 The AFC North has been dominant, but the Bengals aren’t getting respect; will that change if they beat Pittsburgh?
#14(5-3) 21¼-26¾ #15(4-4) Sun 1:00 PM 704 Jim Nantz, Phil Simms 86 132 Interconference showdown between two teams fighting for a playoff spot.
#5(6-3) 25-25 #T12(5-3) Sun 1:00 PM 712 Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa 92 134 Showdown for divisional supremacy one of the highlights of the early games.
#31(1-7) 17¼-20¾ #27(3-5) Sun 1:00 PM 714 Ron Pitts, Jim Mora 138 128 People haven’t noticed the Browns aren’t that bad, or that the Rams are.
#25(3-5) 17-20½ #30(1-7) Sun 1:00 PM 713 Chris Myers, Tim Ryan 135 104 Can the high from the Dolphins’ first win continue into a home clash with the Redskins?
#21(4-4) 21¼-24¾ #T22(2-6) Sun 1:00 PM 705 Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots 80 93 Looking at the power rankings and line, you’d never guess the Titans had two more wins.
#8(6-3) 24¼-21¼ #18(4-4) Sun 1:00 PM 706 Marv Albert, Rich Gannon WW1 117 136 The Texans spent nearly a decade without making the playoffs. Now they could get a first-round bye.
#3(6-2) 23¾-17¼ #29(2-6) Sun 4:05 PM 715 Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf USA 113 93 Will the homes of the Fox early games really want to see the hapless Seahawks get crushed by the Ravens?
#7(6-2) 21¼-23¾ #T12(5-3) Sun 4:15 PM 711 Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin CMP 94 92 Da Bears would be in the playoffs right now, and revenge against the Lions would make all Cutler’s sacks worthwhile.
#4(6-2) 19½-23 #2(7-1) Sun 4:15 PM 716 Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver WW1 85 86 The Niners have a chance to prove their bona fides against Eli and Co. in front of a nearly national audience.
#10(5-3) 22¾-24¼ #11(5-3) Sun 8:20 PM Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya WW1 92 93 Showdown for divisional supremacy starts the NBC flex schedule.
#T22(2-6) 18¾-32¼ #1(8-0) Mon 8:30 PM Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber WW1 92 93 The Packers get a primetime showcase for their dominance against a hated rival.

This is both why I shouldn’t be posting on Homestuck, and why I’m the only one crazy and stubborn enough to do so.

(From MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck. Click for full-sized reign of the pool balls.)

So. Let’s talk about that EOA flash some more.

A single installment of a comic has to be absolutely incredible for me to devote two posts to talking about it. If anything would qualify, it would be that flash, but that’s not why I want to talk about it. Nor do I want to talk about it because of Hussie’s Halloween (sort of) surprise unveiling Lord English in full to us for the first time (after I noted his glaring absence in the EOA). Rather, I want to talk about it because arguably the most important development in that act-ending flash wasn’t conveyed clearly.

To be fair, without dialogue (and the lack of dialogue is an important part of the appeal of Homestuck‘s flashes), it may well have been impossible to convey clearly. Without dialogue, it’s impossible to tell whether Rose and Dave can’t find the Green Sun, or if it’s just obscured by the Tumor, the distance, and quite possibly being in the middle of Derse’s moon. Without dialogue, it’s impossible to tell whether that huge green orb is the Green Sun itself, or the shockwave from its destruction. It’s especially impossible to tell when Hussie intentionally structured the flash out of strict chronological order (even by Homestuck standards – for instance, that Red Miles attack of Noir’s, depicted immediately after he’s seen mourning Jade’s death and before he even places her on the Quest Bed, actually happens after everything else Noir does in that flash, aside from PM showing up), meaning Rose and Dave’s quest for the Sun was interspersed with Aradia and ghost-Sollux waiting for them outside the (existing) Sun.

I got a lot of things wrong in my initial post on the EOA, and I was okay with that. I intended that post to be my own first impressions and interpretations, largely unencumbered by what other people said about it and how other people interpreted it, and I didn’t want to bother re-editing it heavily after reading those other interpretations. In particular, my title said that I didn’t see why people were making a big deal out of Scratch’s “suckers” remark to Gamzee, and if I didn’t still think that after reading what I got wrong I would have changed the title. We already knew that Scratch’s entire MO consisted of manipulating people to serve his own ends. We already knew that Scratch was tricking Rose and others into unleashing an unstoppable universe-eating demon (an aspect of his motivation I don’t think he mentioned to anyone other than the reader and people he’d recruited to serve English directly). While we learned more about his ultimate plan, and that he committed more “lies of omission” than we had thought, I’m not sure we learned that much more about Scratch that we didn’t already know.

But the creation of the Green Sun is important to talk about, and while we can’t really do much more than speculate, we can talk a little bit about the implications, which should serve as a short prelude to the coming Act 6.

Rose’s mission to destroy the Green Sun was given to her by the horrorterrors, Lovecraftian abominations from beyond the Furthest Ring, and Doc Scratch provided her with the details to carry it out. According to their story, the Sun was the source of power for, among others, Jack Noir (and Scratch himself), and destroying it would also serve to avert their own deaths at the hands of some malevolent force. The horrorterrors gave Rose a map to plot a course through the knotted spacetime surrounding the Sun, to arrive at the Sun’s location at just the right time and place.

It now appears that the horrorterrors misled and tricked Rose and Dave into creating the Sun to serve whatever purposes they may have had, with Scratch as their accomplice. It’s anyone’s guess whether they’re actually under any kind of threat, or what their exact aims are, but it’s clear that they’ve screwed over two sessions and possibly many more, with their machinations leading fairly directly to the creation of Doc Scratch and Jack Noir’s omnipotence. Hussie calls all of act 5, and perhaps the entire comic, “the result of a very, very long con by Doc Scratch”; I might go even further. Everything that has completely screwed over the kids and trolls ultimately comes back to the deviousness of one grand enemy, one party that appears to have caused everything, of which Noir is ultimately a minor part. Whether anyone realizes the extent of their machinations remains in doubt.

It’s also clear that the kids and trolls can’t trust anyone, to any extent, except themselves and each other. Rose, with good reason, was very skeptical over whether to trust the horrorterrors, but even after the “grimdark incident” went ahead with the plan anyway, if only because there wasn’t much else to do with the Tumor. Now far from solving their myriad problems, she now bears some accidential responsibility for them, and what reason there may have been to trust that the horrorterrors have had their best interests in mind has gone out the window. Meanwhile, Doc Scratch has repeatedly said he never lies, and going back through his conversations shows that any lies he made about the nature of the Tumor, the Green Sun, and Rose’s mission were by omission, but one would have to parse his conversations very carefully to detect what he’s leaving out.

Everyone in a position to say more about the game world than any player would has proven to be utterly untrustworthy and working against them (though the two characters who inherited first-guardian power during the same flash may provide a sliver of hope). If the combined forces – soon all the surviving trolls will be joined with half the kids outside the Sun, seven in all – do realize the scope of the forces arrayed against them and start aiming to oppose them, they will effectively be flying blind, with their only source of information being the same forces they seek to oppose, which they will need to guess at when they need to do what they say, the opposite, or something else entirely.

This, then, is the central conflict of Act 6, the final substantial act: the efforts of the kids and trolls, working in complete concert for the first time, to oppose and take down their true enemy, which has started to show its face. It is far more difficult than anything the game has challenged them with to this point, with even beginning to effectively oppose them a seemingly impossible task, but one they are faced with nonetheless; only time will tell if they will succeed in accomplishing their goal, or their enemy’s. To the side, PM and perhaps eventually Jade will oppose Jack Noir, but only on the side; though the Noir ruse may prove a critical distaction, and even prevent any potential victory from proving empty, if not complete it, it is no longer the comic’s most important conflict.

But perhaps there’s an even larger story here. In one sense, the creation of the Sun completes the biggest time loop of all, with the crisis faced by the kids leading to the creation of the power behind that crisis, with Doc Scratch engineering the source of his own power. But in an even bigger sense, the Green Sun is the source of one of the most central aspects of the game itself. Perhaps, just perhaps, the greatest time loop of all hasn’t been completed yet, and will only come to fruition with the creation of the game itself.

I may be back later with thoughts on the start of Act 6.

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 9

NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For Weeks 10-15, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site (note that this was written with the 2007 season in mind, hence why it contradicts the above – and the page it comes from, for that matter):

  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks, and cannot protect any games Week 17. Games were protected after Week 4 the first year of flexible scheduling, but are now protected after Week 5; however, they are back to Week 4 this year, probably for the same reason as that first year: NBC hosting a Christmas night game and the other games being moved to Saturday.
  • Three teams can appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. At this writing, no team is completely tapped out at any measure; five teams have five primetime appearances each, but all of them have at least one game that can be flexed out. A list of all teams’ primetime appearances is in my first two posts for Weeks 4 and 5.
  • Last year’s selection of primetime games was weighted rather heavily towards Fox games. This year, the selection currently leans CBS 22, FOX 20 (though if I miscounted one game it may be even). My guess is that the balance will continue to lean towards the AFC. Weeks 10, 12, 13, and 15 are all CBS games, while Weeks 11 and 14 are FOX.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 10 (November 13):

  • Selected game: New England @ NY Jets.

Week 11 (November 20):

  • Selected game: Philadelphia @ NY Giants.

Week 12 (November 17):

  • Tentative game: Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
  • Prospects: 6-3 v. 4-4. Remember when the Chiefs were 0-3 and widely considered the worst team in the league? Suddenly this game looks pretty good to keep its spot.
  • Protected games: Patriots-Eagles (CBS) and Bears-Raiders (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Thanksgiving weekend, paucity of good games (Packers-Lions is an especially bad loss). Bills-Jets is really the only good option, with Bucs-Titans a dark horse and Bengals-Browns very behind. After the protections, NBC isn’t left with very attractive matchups in terms of drawing power.
  • Analysis: Bills-Jets does look pretty good, as both teams are in a three-way tie for the division lead at 5-3. It might also be a more attractive matchup in terms of how name the teams are; the Bills seem more credible than the Chiefs. I doubt it’ll overcome the tentative, but if things break down perfectly it’ll be two teams with the same record as the Steelers at 6-4 while the Chiefs will be below .500 and the four-game winning streak will look like a fluke. At that point, it’ll be very tempting to pull the flex.

Week 13 (December 4):

  • Tentative game: None. For the first time ever, the NFL has announced that it is pulling a game out of primetime before the two-week deadline – Colts-Pats has become that sucky. Notably, they haven’t announced a replacement yet, which suggests there are multiple candidates…
  • Protected games: Jets-Redskins (CBS) and Packers-Giants (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Lions-Saints had the early lead, and may have re-taken it, but Bengals-Steelers has the exact same pair of records. Falcons-Texans is probably third, Titans-Bills and Chiefs-Bears are dark horses, and Ravens-Browns is fading.

Week 14 (December 11):

  • Tentative game: NY Giants @ Dallas
  • Prospects: NFC East clash, with both teams moderately good and the division lead potentially on the line. A flex isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but one or both teams would have to completely collapse and the other game would have to sweep the NFL off its feet. Combine that with a paucity of NFC road games, and no wonder Fox left this week unprotected.
  • Protected games: Patriots-Redskins (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Texans-Bengals is the only game involving two teams over .500. Bills-Chargers, Raiders-Packers, Saints-Titans, and Chiefs-Jets are dark horses.

Week 15 (December 18):

  • Tentative game: Baltimore @ San Diego
  • Prospects: Not NBC’s biggest-name late-season matchup, but one of the better ones record-wise. Good chance to keep its spot.
  • Protected games: Jets-Eagles (CBS) and Redskins-Giants (FOX).
  • Other possible games: Lions-Raiders and Packers-Chiefs and that’s it, both involving AFC West teams at .500 (admittedly, same as Ravens-Chargers). Yeah, I’d say Ravens-Chargers is keeping its spot.

Week 17 (January 1):

AFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (4-4)
WEST
44-4
56-2
2 tied at 4-4
EAST
35-3
66-3
2 tied at 5-3
SOUTH
26-3
5-3
4-4 5-3
NORTH
16-2
6-2
NFC Playoff Picture
DIVISION
LEADERS
WILD CARD WAITING IN
THE WINGS (3-5)
SOUTH
46-3
56-2
5-3
EAST
36-2
65-3
4-4
WEST
27-1
5-3
2 tied at 2-6 4-4
NORTH
18-0
4-4
6-2
  • After last year, I realized that the NFL’s new all-divisional-matchups-Week-17 rule, combined with their division-heavy tiebreak structure and desperate desire to only give NBC games guaranteed to still have playoff implications before primetime, severely limited the sorts of games that NBC could show Week 17, to games with playoff implications for both teams. Thus, I’m changing up the format for the Week 17 Playoff Positioning Watch for the second straight year, only listing, in effect, the possible games. More than ever, the actual state of the races is mostly irrelevant; a quick glance at the standings and the slate of games is all that’s necessary, and that’s not very different from what I do for any other week.
  • That makes the Playoff Picture charts I do each week less relevant, but not entirely irrelevant and in some ways more relevant, since I’m likely to refer to them more than the standings while listing the possible games. So for the next week I’ll be running a poll asking whether you would prefer those tables here, or on the NFL Schedule post.
  • Possible games: Cowboys-Giants, Titans-Texans, Lions-Packers, Ravens-Bengals, Bucs-Falcons, Bills-Patriots, Chargers-Raiders.

NFL Schedule: Week 9

Gotta get this done earlier next week once Thursday night games start. Vegas seems to disagree with the power rankings a lot, I notice. Favorite playing at home can’t fully explain some of these lines.

What is the Median Expected Score?

Away MXS Home Time (ET) TV DTV Announcers NTR SIRIUS Notes
Away Home
#14(4-3) 21¼-23¾ #6(5-2) Sun 1:00 PM 704 Jim Nantz, Phil Simms WW1 92 112 Who would have thought these two teams would be fighting for the division lead? Or that the Bills would be favored?
#25(3-4) 15¼-25¾ #10(5-3) Sun 1:00 PM 705 Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts 106 137 Why is Houston favored by so much over a team around .500?
#31(0-7) 18¼-22¼ #18(4-3) Sun 1:00 PM 706 Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots 94 138 Should be easy for the Chiefs to continue their comeback against the stinky Dolphins.
#28(2-5) 17-28 #20(3-4) Sun 1:00 PM 707 Chris Myers, Tim Ryan 117 85 Evidently Vegas thinks these teams are separated by a lot more than one win and eight spots.
#2(6-1) 20¾-16¾ #T23(3-4) Sun 1:00 PM 709 Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa CMP 139 93 The Niners continue to showcase their surprisingly good team against the floundering Skins.
#17(4-3) 21-29 #8(5-3) Sun 1:00 PM 708 Dick Stockton, John Lynch USA 136 86 Saints better come back from the Rams shocker quickly with the division lead on the line.
#12(4-3) 25¾-19¼ #32(0-8) Sun 1:00 PM 710 Ron Pitts, Jim Mora 91 113 Can the Falcons avoid their division mate’s fate against a winless team?
#27(2-5) 17¾-25¼ #19(4-3) Sun 4:05 PM 711 Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf CMP 104 139 Showdown of two new quarterbacks on the hot seat quickly.
#11(5-2) 19¼-22¼ #21(4-3) Sun 4:05 PM 712 Marv Albert, Rich Gannon 93 134 Power rankings say Bengals substantially better; Vegas disagrees. Still can’t get no respect.
#9(5-2) 21-30 #4(5-2) Sun 4:15 PM 714 Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver USA 86 94 What luck: same year Eli compares himself to Tom, Giants play Pats… and he may actually be outplaying Brady.
#1(7-0) 28¼-22¾ #15(4-3) Sun 4:15 PM 715 Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin WW1 85 92 Bad time to have a heartbreaking loss, entering a game against the best team in the league.
#29(1-6) 19-22 #30(1-6) Sun 4:15 PM 713 Sam Rosen, Chad Pennington 138 91 Divisional showdown between two Luck contenders.
#5(5-2) 19½-22½ #3(6-2) Sun 8:20 PM Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya WW1 92 93 Ravens embarrassed Steelers in Game 1 of this classic rivalry. Pittsburgh wants revenge, and to prove themselves.
#13(4-3) 20-27½ #16(3-4) Mon 8:30 PM Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber WW1 92 93 The Eagles get another primetime game to try to move back into playoff position.

Bye: