Well, here we are, just one week from the end of the NFL season, and this is what we can say about the playoffs: Nobody’s going.
Or everybody’s going. Who can tell? With the sudden parity in the NFL, a
.500 record can be your ticket in, or your ticket home. We can anticipate a very long day next week, in which the NFL pundits try to sort through the numerous tie-breaking procedures.
But somebody will inevitably be unhappy. And what happens if, after all the analysis — division wins, points against, and toughness of schedule — there is still a tie?
Clearly we need some new tie-breaking procedures.
1. Toughness of air travel. Each team recounts its worst airplane experience. Whoever had the bumpiest trips gets to go. An emergency landing is an automatic playoff berth.
2. Better cheerleaders. To be judged by an impartial committee, consisting of John Madden, Charles Nelson Reilly and Bob Barker.
3. Wins against opponents still using their original quarterback. There are, of course, only two teams left that qualify.
4. Points scored without the help of Vinny Testaverde. Because the Tampa Bay quarterback is responsible for half the scoring of his opponents, this must be taken into account.
5. Best restaurants. Self-explanatory.
6. Longest wait. In which case, Detroit gets to go. And has home-field advantage.
And now, this week’s picks. . . .
* CHICAGO 20, LIONS 3: Doesn’t matter if Jimmy Harbaugh is quarterbacking. Doesn’t matter if Jiminy Cricket is quarterbacking.
* NY JETS 34, INDIANAPOLIS 16: I don’t know, this score just came to me.
* PHILADELPHIA 23, PHOENIX 17: Just a hunch.
* HOUSTON 20, CINCINNATI 13: I don’t want to say it’s noisy in the Astrodome, but they landed a plane in there last week and nobody noticed.
* WASHINGTON 31, DALLAS 20: Remember when this game used to mean something?
* NY GIANTS 20, KANSAS CITY 12: Chiefs haven’t won on the road since Dwight Eisenhower.
* NEW ENGLAND 16, TAMPA BAY 10: Doug Flutie won the Heisman. Vinny Testaverde won the Heisman. And neither one can be trusted to throw a pass.
* BUFFALO 20, LA RAIDERS 6: Bills have to wake up sooner or later, don’t they?
* MINNESOTA 88, GREEN BAY 0: Any team that loses twice to the Lions should not be allowed in the NFL.
* SAN FRANCISCO 23, NEW ORLEANS 14: At this rate, they’ll have to demote them to the New Orleans Bishops.
* PITTSBURGH 1, SAN DIEGO 0: Who cares?
* LA RAMS 14, ATLANTA 7: The only way Atlanta would make the playoffs is if the tiebreakers went to The City That Most Recently Hosted A Democratic Convention.
* SEATTLE 20, DENVER 19: The mild mild West.
* (MONDAY NIGHT) CLEVELAND 27, MIAMI 20: No playoffs. A drug problem. Boy, have things changed for the Dolphins.
* RECORD LAST WEEK: 10-4.
* SEASON RECORD: 129-66-1.
* LAST WEEK VS. SPREAD: 5-9.
* SEASON VS. SPREAD: 96-97-3.
* BEST PICK LAST WEEK: New England 12, Seattle 7 (New England won, 13-7).
* WORST PICK LAST WEEK: Buffalo 24, Tampa Bay 10 (Tampa Bay won, 10-5).