All in all, not much movement on the board. Mike C and StuB swapped the #3 and #4 spots in the AFC, which doesn't have very much of an effect on either one. A more significant swap happened in the NFC where Turf Toe pushed Boardwalkers out of the #1 seed spot down to #2. Both spots earn you a first-round bye, but remember -- beginning this season, the #1 seed in each conference earns themselves a $50 bonus, rather than the $25 bonus that seeds 2-4 receive.
All right, let's take a look at this week's divisional matches, plus a couple of other contests that will have a big impact on the playoff picture:
We'll start out in the AFC West where Secretly Victorious and Mary L meet for the first of their two meetings in the next three weeks, and they're fighting for what might be their last chance to make a strong case for a postseason position. You can see them both on the above chart, but whoever loses this one will almost certainly drop off the map. Why Not Zoidberg? has a very comfortable three-match lead with four weeks left, so it's extremely likely that a Wild Card spot is the only chance either of these two has. One thing is for certain -- both these players are rooting heavily against Yellow Jackets and Vlad M!
Two other AFC divisional matches are on the schedule, but aren't likely to have much playoff bearing. Both the AFC North contest between I Will Win It All and Mean Machine as well as the AFC South matchup between Horns and Mother Cluckers are featuring the 3rd-and-4th-place players in their respective divisions, and all four have been eliminated from a shot at their respective division titles. However, there's still a mathematically possibility of one of these players grabbing a Wild Card...if absolutely everything goes their way for the rest of the season.
The entire NFC East is seeing divisional action here -- first with the division-leading Turf Toe trying to get the season sweep over his closest competitor, Jeff B. If Turf Toe wins this one, then he'll have the division all but wrapped up, needing just one victory in the last three weeks to guarantee the title. However, if Jeff B comes out on top, then the playoff picture will get a lot more fuzzy. Turf Toe would still be in the lead via his better divisional record, but it would be a much, much closer race, and would also introduce a third player into the mix (see below)
The other half of the NFC East will see Hyena trying to make a long, long, longshot run at the division title. First, he needs to root for Jeff B to get the win this week and this week only. Then, he needs both Jeff B and Turf Toe to lose the final three weeks. And he also has to run the table in this last month, beginning with a win over Bad Mice this week. However, even if things don't work out exactly the way he would hope, Hyena is still in halfway-decent shape. He's next in line for a Wild Card if either Jeff B or Beep Bops start to slide, so while his fate isn't in his own hands, he absolutely needs to put together several wins down the stretch.
In the NFC North, Rabid Ferrets has a division title-clinching scenario this week. First, he needs to beat Ignats, then he needs both Pigskin Palookas and Bassturds to lose -- if all those happen, then the NFC North is his. And realistically, as long as Rabid Ferrets wins just one match down the stretch, then it would be very difficult for anyone else to catch him. But it's Ignats who has the best chance of pulling that off -- he's 2.5 wins back with four matches left, so a win here would put him right in line to steal the division for himself.
In the NFC South, either Alabama Slammers or Ragesters is going to pull off a feat neither has managed so far this season: winning a divisional match. Alabama Slammers is out of the playoff picture, but Ragesters still has an outside shot at making it in. The division title is out of his reach, but since the entire division lost last week, he still may be able to grab a wild card spot if he can find a way to close out his season with four-straight wins.
That's it for the divisional matches, but there are others that will have a big impact on the postseason picture.
While everyone comes into the season hoping to make the playoffs, the next goal is always to earn a first-round bye. The top two players in each conference get to sit back and relax on Wild Card Weekend, knowing they've automatically earned a spot in the Divisional Championship Round. At the moment, Why Not Zoidberg? would have the #2 seed in the AFC, while StuB currently sits in the #3 spot. There is a world of difference between #2 and #3, and now these two are facing off in a match that could very well be the determining factor when it comes to the final seeding.
Others are definitely rooting for StuB here as well. Here's an interesting scenario -- if StuB comes out on top, Mike C wins his match and JPP's Missing Fingers loses, then at the end of this week, JPP's Missing Fingers would still be the #1 seed with 9.5 wins, and StuB, Mike C, and Why Not Zoidberg? would all be clustered together at 9 wins, just a half-match out of the top spot!
And speaking of Mike C, he's looking for his eighth consecutive win to put himself a win away from locking up the AFC East title. But if he slips up and Brenda's Bulldogs comes out on top, then she'd be able to lock up a playoff spot of her own next week.
All right, that'll wrap up the early preview. Make sure you have your pick for Thursday's game submitted by noon on Thursday. Enjoy all!