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Today's playoff picture

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  January 3, 2010 11:13 AM

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There is a whole lot going on today in the AFC. Some of it is simple, like if the Ravens or Jets win, they're in the playoffs. Some of it is not, like what would happen if the Patriots and Bengals both have the same result today.

First, here is the complete list of what needs to happen today for every team still alive to make the playoffs.

BALTIMORE
1. Ravens win

NEW YORK JETS
1. Jets win

DENVER
1. Broncos win, Jets lose, Ravens lose
2. Broncos win, Jets lose, Steelers lose
3. Broncos win, Jets lose, Texans lose
4. Broncos win, Ravens lose, Steelers lose
5. Broncos win, Ravens lose, Texans lose
6. Steelers lose, Ravens lose, Texans lose, Jaguars lose
7. Steelers lose, Ravens lose, Texans lose, Jets lose
8. Steelers lose, Ravens lose, Jaguars lose, Jets lose
9. Steelers lose, Texans lose, Jaguars lose, Jets lose
10. Dolphins lose, Jets lose, Ravens lose, Texans lose, Jaguars lose

PITTSBURGH
1. Steelers win, Texans lose, Jets lose
2. Steelers win, Texans lose, Ravens lose
3. Steelers win, Jets lose, Ravens lose, Broncos lose

HOUSTON
1. Texans win, Jets lose, Ravens lose
2. Texans win, Jets lose, Broncos lose
3. Texans win, Ravens lose, Broncons lose

JACKSONVILLE
1. Jaguars win, Steelers lose, Ravens lose, Broncos lose, Texans lose
2. Jaguars win, Steelers lose, Ravens lose, Broncos lose, Jets lose
3. Jaguars win, Steelers lose, Ravens lose, Texans lose, Jets lose
4. Jaguars win, Steelers lose, Broncos lose, Texans lose, Jets lose
5. Jaguars win, Jets lose, Broncos lose, Texans lose, Ravens lose

DOLPHINS
1. Dolphins win, Jets lose, Ravens lose, Texans lose, Jaguars lose

For the Patriots, today will determine if they earn the three seed or the four seed. The Patriots and Begnals are still in competition for the three seed. If one wins and the other loses, the winner will get the three seed. As of today, the Patriots hold an edge. But even if the Patriots win, the Bengals can still get the three.

If the Bengals and Patriots have the same result today, the winner of the third seed will come down to the fourth head-to-head tiebreaker, which is Strength of victory. Strength of Victory is the combined record of all the teams a contender has defeated. (If a contender has beaten an opponent twice, that opponent's record is counted twice.)

As of right now, the Patriots' defeated opponents are 72-88, good for a .450 SOV. The Bengals' defeated opponents are 69-93, good for a .426 SOV. If you pretend it's like standings, the Patriots have a five-game lead.

After breaking down today's schedule and what's happened this year, we can say what needs to happen, but it's a little confusing. I think this is the most clear way to explain it: If the Bucs*, Falcons*, Bills, Titans, Dolphins, Panthers, Jaguars (with the Bills result counting twice) can come within four wins of the Packers, Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Bears, Lions, and Chiefs (with the results of the Steelers and Browns counting twice), the Patriots will win the three seed.

*The Bucs and Falcons play today

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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