The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.
The Packers need a major miracle to make the playoffs as the tragic number is now 1, or at least it will be official in another half. 1 more loss or 1 Bears win (or, likely, 1 more Lions win after they win tomorrow night) means they’ll be watching the playoffs from the comfort of the couch. Why risk Aaron Rogers getting hurt the next 2 weeks when it’s impossible to either make the playoffs or (thanks to the tiebreaker) finish last in the NFC North.
If I were Mark Murphy, I would demand Wile E. Thompson’s, Mike McCan’thy’s, and Dumb Capers’ resignations at halftime today.
Revisions/extensions (6:44 pm 12/15/2013) - I’d like to take credit for that halftime speech. What a comeback! Thank you Cowgirls for piss-poor playcalling that led to a piss-poor performance in the 4th quarter.
I quietly put this poll up at the beginning of the month, when the Packers were both stinking up the joint and having players carted off the field on a weekly basis. They fixed the latter immediately afterward, and finally stopped the physical bleeding to take sole possession (by a half-game and, at the moment, a tiebreaker) over Detroit.
As things stand now, the Packers are in first at 5-2 with one win each over the Vikings and Lions (a second game against each is upcoming), and the first of the two division games against Duh Bears coming up on Monday Night Football, the Lions are 5-3 with one win each over the Bears and Vikings and a loss against the Packers, the Bears are 4-3 with a win against the Vikings and a loss against the Lions, and the Vikings are 1-6 with a loss to each of the other NFC North teams (sorry, Shoe; maybe you could buy the team and really create a conflict of interest for the blog ;-)
I’m not asking how many wins the eventual winner of the NFC North will have, I’m asking how many wins it will take to take the division. You have about 11 hours from the posting of this to put your guesses in.
How many wins will it take to win the NFC North in 2013?
Deadspin reports that fan-favorite-turned-fan-favorite-target Brett Favre turned down a plea from the St. Louis Rams to return to the NFL after losing their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, for the season to an ACL tear this past Sunday.
* I’ll believe he’s finally stuck with the proverbial fork when game tiem hits on 11/24 rolls around and he hasn’t signed with the Vikings to give us one more chance to boo his ass out of Lambeau.
>Nike unleashed the new Pro Bowl uniforms that match the new “pick-up game” mentality that shattered the old AFC vs NFC reality. Technologically, they have the latest and greatest cool features built in.
However, they’re missing one thing – the AFC red, the both-conferences white, and the NFC blue that’s been the standard as long as I can remember. Replacing it, puke orange and highlighter yellow (or as Nike calls it, vibrant orange and bolt). Guess they’re expecting a teamload of Broncos and Seahawks.
The NFL has become so big that even Draft Day, er, Night has become an event, and not just for New York Jets fans. However, one tradition appears to have had its last trip out of the tunnel. From ESPN:
The next Pro Bowl is scheduled the week before the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3, but a game site has not been listed because of its precarious status, sources added.
Sources say that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has previously voiced his displeasure with the lack of competitiveness in recent Pro Bowl games, is strongly considering suspending this year’s game, sources say.
Beyond 2013, another league source believes the Pro Bowl is “DOA (dead on arrival).”
One could argue what has caused the lack of fire in the players who show up (and indeed the decades-long tradition of some of the top players using the usual wear and tear from an NFL season as a reason to not play one more game). One could point to the end-of-the-season date (until recently, after even the Super Bowl), the week-long vacation in Hawaii, the basic fact that a week just isn’t long enough to put together more than a basic game plan, or the unique-to-the-Pro-Bowl anti-defense rules (a base 4-3 defense, no blitzing outside of short-yardage situations, and no bump-and-run coverage outside the shadow of the defense’s end zone), and one would probably be right. Then again, the NBA All-Star Game has been nothing more than a “Can you top this” offensive contest for years, and NBA Commissioner David Stern isn’t considering axing it.
The ratings don’t appear to be much an issue; even though the Pro Bowl typically draws fewer viewers than a “national” regular-season game, it outdraws other sports’ all-star games. Money, or at least the money paid out to the players, isn’t exactly a factor either – if memory serves, the winners get less than $60,000 and the losers half that. In fact, ESPN is reporting that the NFL would be directing teams to keep negotiating Pro Bowl clauses into player contracts as the NFL would be doing everything but travel to Hawaii.
In case you’ve been in a cave the last 24 hours, President Obama tried and failed to upstage a long-scheduled GOP Presidential debate by scheduling a speech before a joint session of Congress for 7 pm (all times Central as that’s where I am) September 7, which “just happened” to be the precise date and time said debate is to start over on MSNBC. After House Speaker John Boehner, citing logistical issues with House votes scheduled for 5:30 pm 9/7 and a claimed 3-hour requirement for a security sweep to “sanitize” the House chamber, suggested the following day, the White House jumped at that.
The new date of September 8, however, poses, at least potentially, a different conflict – one with the start of the NFL season, with the 13-time (and defending) World Champion Green Bay Packers hosting the New Orleans Saints. NBC, which is to carry the game starting at 7:30 pm, also has a 1-hour pregame scheduled for 6:30 pm. As of roughly a half-hour ago, CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller reported that, while the start time of the speech had not been finalized, it would be done before the 7:30 pm kickoff. Earlier reports had widely speculated that the speech would begin at 6:30 pm.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, before it became clear (or at least as clear as the White House gets) that the speech would be done before kickoff, that Steve Wexler, vice president of radio and TV operations for Journal Broadcast Group, had Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate, WTMJ-TV, request that, in the event there was a conflict between the game itself and the speech, NBC make both feeds available to the NBC affiliates and that they be allowed to choose which feed to air where, and that WTMJ, if given the choice, would air the game on the main channel and the debate on a digital subchannel.
There hasn’t been any discussion regarding a potential pre-game conflict, which opens up the door for an NRE Poll. Do note that I am NOT asking what you would rather watch, or even what feed you would like seen on what part of the broadcast spectrum controlled by your local NBC affiliate. With that in mind, have at it.
What should NBC do with the NFL opener pre-game and the Obama jobs speech?
Up to 1 answer(s) was/were allowed
Bin the speech, tell the White House that they're just one network of many and that their cable news channel MSNBC is covering it anyway. (63%, 38 Vote(s))
Offer both to the local affiliates, let all of them choose what to air on what channel. (33%, 20 Vote(s))
Bin the pre-game and tell the NFL that they're just not that important. (3%, 2 Vote(s))
Offer both to the local affiliates, let the affiliates in the Packers and Saints markets choose what to air on what channel, force the rest to air the speech on the main channel. (1%, 0 Vote(s))
Craig Gilbert over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pretty much confirmed the stereotypes on the linkage between one’s news and TV watching patterns and one’s politics. According to data from National Media, we in the Milwaukee area are, for the most part, very divided in what occupies both our source of information and their entertainment options. I’ll make you go read Gilbert’s analysis for the full story, but I’ll give you a taste of the TV sports split:
- Packer fans, and football fans in general, tend to be somewhat Republican, though Badger football fans are split down the middle.
- While Brewer fans are pretty much split down the middle, those who care enough to watch the World Series are even more more Republican than football fans.
- Bucks fans, and basketball fans in general, tend to be Democratic. Two oddities on that front: Badger basketball fans were slightly Republican (and indeed more so than Badger football fans), and while NBA playoff viewers were quite Democratic, NBA finals viewers were only somewhat Democratic.
One more thing – the partisan skew between those who depend most on newspapers for news (the most-Democratic among 7 Midwest media markets reviewed by National Media) and those who depend most on radio for news (the 2nd-most-Republican among the same 7 Midwest media markets) is striking.
With the NFL and its players screwing over the 2011 season, thoughts turn to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball tournament. I’ve plunked down my bracket, and it isn’t kind to either Wisconsin or Marquette.
As always, I’m running a “Which #1 drops first” poll. The contenders for the dishonor are Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, and Pittsburgh. Since seconds count, do choose carefully. The poll will be, if I remember to do so, suspended while one of those teams are playing.
Which Number 1 NCAA Men's D1 Baskeball seed will lose first?
First things first, congrats to the Mighty Green Bay Packers on their record-extending 13th NFL championship.
That was a microcosm of the season – lose key players (Charles Woodson and Donald Driver for the entire second half, Sam Shields for much of the second half, and Nick Collins to complete the defensive trifecta just before the end of the first half), not have a running game until very late, have dog-ass special (ed) teams, and still win, baby. That was sweet.
Now, I bet you’re wondering how this inveterate gambler did (or how I would have done had I been stupid enough to put money down). In a word, outside of the big play of Pack -3 and the minor Pack by 4-6, I would have blown chunks the size of Texas. The overs ruled the day, the Packers led at the half, and there wasn’t a score in the first 7:30.
All the lines are courtesy Bodog, and were current as of this morning, so if your bookie doesn’t offer them, kneecap him (unless, of course, your bookie is an undercover cop or these picks don’t pan out, in which case I never offered these picks to you):
Full-game line: Packers -3 (EVEN) over the Steelers
Full-game over/under: Under 45.5 (-105)
Steelers total points: Under 21 (-105)
Packers total points: Under 24 (-115)
Score in the first 7:30 of the game: Yes (-170)
Alternate over/under cracktion part 1 (37.5): Under 37.5 (+195)
Alternate over/under craction part 2 (33.5): Under 33.5 (+300)
Margin of victory: Packers by 4-6 points (11/2) (which means the Packers will win by a score of 17-13)
Which team will be leading at halftime and which team will win the game: Tie/Packers (11/1)
That will leave a dent in your bookie’s pocket on the way to the Baker’s Dozen. One more thing… GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO! GO PACK GO!
The reason why it’s a Classic instead of a Hot read is because Iowahawk penned this back in 2006. I’ll give you the open, and leave you to read the history:
February, as we know, is Black History Month. February is also the official start of the drag racing season, beginning with the annual NHRA Winternationals at Pomona. Coincidence? Maybe. I can’t claim any expert knowledge about Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. DuBois or other textbook notables, but I do know a bit about drag racing; and I know that African American gearheads have been trailblazing the quarter mile for some 50 years. They might not be Dr. King, but I think their stories deserve a retelling, too.
Some background: American car racing has three major branches — road racing, oval, and drag/lakes racing — and each has its own distinct socioeconomic history and heritage. Road racing first developed as the leisure pursuit of coastal bluebloods, who had the cash to afford pricey European sports cars and the winding country lanes on which to play with them. Oval track racing — including open wheel, sprints, and stock cars — has always been a more blue collar phenomenon, evolving out of the county fairground horse tracks of the Midwest and South. Nascar shares this heritage, along with an additional link to moonshine runners in the segregated South. For obvious economic and social reasons, neither of these racing forums were conducive to Black participation.
By contrast, drag racing evolved with fewer cultural barriers. Like oval track racing it was a blue collar phenomenon, a natural extension of straight-line street racing by young guys in cheap homebuilt hot rods. Unlike oval racing, it developed largely on the postwar West Coast, a society less encumbered by the legacy of segregation. As a result drag racing was more or less born ‘multicultural’ and egalitarian; the roll call of hod rodding greats — Xydias, Iskenderian, Hirohata, Pedregon, Karamesines — reads like a passenger list from Ellis Island. And African Americans were there from its inception.
The only reason why the “almost” is there is because the Lombardi Trophy isn’t home yet, but as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert points out (H/T – Kevin), it was the guys, and especially the role players, Ted Thompson brought in that got the Pack this far. I think I lost track of how many times I “borrowed” Mr. Fastbucks’ “Shields UP!” Tweet because Sam Shields’ play allowed Charles Woodson to play the “roving safety” role much like he did before Al Harris got hurt a couple seasons back. All the “role players” Thompson stockpiled came in very handy, as I think this is the first MASH Unit to make The Championship Game That Cannot Be Named™.
I have but three words to say on the way to the Baker’s Dozen vs. Seventh Heaven game…
The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes posted on Twitter that the latest Russ Feingold ad (note; I have not seen the ad, mostly because I don’t watch a whole lot of television) used footage from a Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings game, and brought it to the attention of NFL officials, including league spokesman Greg Aiello, specifically asking whether the footage in question was licensed by the campaign. Aiello, on his Twitter account, said, “No. We did not license the footage and have contacted the Senator’s campaign about removing it.”
The 2011 #IndyCar schedule will be announced Friday at….The Milwaukee Mile. That would seem to be a rather large clue.
I guess the State Fair Park Board found the $400,000 IndyCar wanted to run a race weekend next year. There is a very-”convenient” break in the confirmed part of the 2011 schedule between the Indianapolis 500 and the twin race at Texas Motor Speedway, as the TMS date was pushed back from the week after Indy it was this year to two weeks after Indy. Between 1949 and this year, that weekend after Indy had traditionally seen an open-wheel series at the Milwaukee Mile, but TMS took the date when Wisconsin Motorsports, the last private promoter at the Mile, folded and stiffed IndyCar for $1 million and NASCAR for about $2 million.
With Nebraska (the butt of many academic jokes in its current conference, the Big 12) coming to the Big Ten (plus one) next year, Big Ten officials have decided upon how the football programs will be split into two yet-unnamed conferences so they can get a football championship game in. Nebraska was placed in one conference with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. While in the past, Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State have all been consistent contenders for the Big Ten title, their performances over the last decade haven’t exactly been good, with only one of those teams at a time being contenders for the conference championship.
Meanwhile, in the other conference, Ohio State (not-so-affectionately known as OverratedSU around these parts and back at the Bar when it was up and running for consistently choking against other national powerhouses), Penn State and Wisconsin, all consistent contenders for the Big Ten title the past decade, will be beating each other up to see who gets to play in the Cornhusker Invitatio…er, Big Ten Championship game, and which two get lesser bowl opportunities.
The inclusion of Wisconsin in the Power Division also threatened to break up two long-standing rivalries with associated trophies, one with Minnesota for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and one with Iowa for the Heartland Trophy. The Big Ten officials graciously decided to make one cross-division rivalry a guaranteed one for every team. Fortunately for Bucky, it’s the most-played rivalry in Division I-A sports that didn’t visit the proverbial chopping block.
Baseball Crank took full advantage of Baseball-Reference.com putting every box score since 1920 and every play since 1950 into a database, and he found and sorted the 188 pitchers who gave their teams a real chance to win with no more than ordinary offensive/bullpen support at least 100 times since the end of the dead-ball era.
First, I should explain that the official “quality start” (6 or more innings pitched, 3 or less earned runs) isn’t a real measure. You’re depending on 3 innings of pen work night after night, and your defense could easily cost the team any chance of winning because runs scored as a result of an error aren’t “earned”. Crank upped it to a 7-inning minimum and a 2-run (earned or otherwise) maximum, and renamed it “High Quality Start” to get things to at most the setup/closer and keep things close enough for the offensive half of the Earl Weaver Maxim to win it.
Some of the names on the list shouldn’t surprise Milwaukee fans – Warren Spahn (who has the highest number of wins off of HQS), Lew Burdette, Don Sutton (who has the most HQS), Jim Slaton and CC Sabathia. What is somewhat surprising is that Slaton is the only player who spent significant time with the Brewers; in fact, Slaton got 80 of his 100 HQS in Brewer Blue to lead the team.
A couple more Brewers’ notes: How special was the half-season Sabathia spent here in 2008? 10 of his 112 HQS came in the last part of 2008. Meanwhile, Yovanni Gallardo has 20 HQS in his 74 games started. While that ratio will get him onto the 100 HQS list eventually, he won’t get onto the rarified 200 HQS list unless he picks it up.
As someone once said, all politics and no fun makes Egg a very dull boy. Since I merely want to be known as a dull boy, it’s time for a spiral. The Packers open up training camp in 17 days, so it’s time to start focusing on the NFL.
Unless you’ve been in a cave the last 2 years, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been looking at expanding the NFL season. Originally, he wanted to get it done in time for 2011 and the scheduled start of the new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players’ Association, but the clock has slid both that plan and the odds of an on-time new CBA back.
Originally, the thought was to add a single game, possibly at neutral sites, and likely a few outside the US if they went to neutral sites. That has morphed into converting 2 of the 4-5 preseason games into 2 additional regular-season games.
In addition to the injury angle that the NFLPA and some others have noted, that would make a hash of the “perfect” schedule the NFL put together when they went to 32 teams. Right now, each team plays its 3 division rivals in a home-and-home series, the 4 teams from a different division of the same conference, the 4 teams from a division in the other conference, and the 2 teams they otherwise wouldn’t play that finished in the same place in their division the previous year (the “parity” conference games). In fact, those who know how to read the standings, break ties, and remember previous seasons’ schedules know who their team is playing, and for 14 of those games, where, the moment the final gun goes off in the last regular-season game, with only the dates to be filled in.
A single added game would throw the entirety of that picture out of balance. Adding 2 games would, if schedule harmony were to be preserved, necessitate the elimination of the “parity” conference games in favor of playing a third division in either conference. Adding 3 games, which could be accomplished either by adding a third division in a team’s conference or adding “parity” non-conference games, would certainly seem make for a too-long season.
Since most of you who read this place are football fans (or at least I hope you are), it’s time to toss it out to the readership. Unlike Chicago and locations with court-ordered one-man/many-vote situations, vote early and vote once, because the poll closes at noon July 31.
Should the NFL expand its regular-season schedule?
That is the Brewers’ home record percentage so far this year. How pathetic is 4-14? Let me count the ways:
Only the New York Mets have as few road wins (4-12) as the Brewers have home wins, but they got their 4 road wins in two fewer games.
The Baltimore Orioles, who have the worst road record at 5-15 as part of a MLB-worst 12-26, have a better road record than the Brewers’ home record.
.222 is the batting average of Brandon Inge, the Detroit Tigers third baseman.
Out of 178 players who are “qualified” to be on MLB’s leaderboards (i.e., those who have had 3.1 plate appearances, which includes Inge), only 25 have a lower batting average. Interestingly, while no current Brewers are on that list, two Brewer castoffs – Lyle Overbay and Carlos Lee – are.
Out of those 178 “qualified” players, only one has a lower slugging percentage, St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan (.219).
Again out of those 178 “qualified” players, nobody has a lower on-base percentage. Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez (.234) is closest.
I still have to finish off my bracket, but there’s a couple of housekeeping items:
- First off, we got the play-in game tonight between Winthrop and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The winner gets to be sacrificed on Friday by Duke. Take Arkansas-Pine Bluff to be the first team out.
- Second, it’s time to start the annual “Which #1 seed will be knocked out first?” poll. Since we’ve never had a #16 knock off a #1, you’ll most-likely have until Saturday to actually get your choice in. While I may or may not remember to pause the poll while a #1 is playing, I will throw out any guesses entered while a #1 team is playing.
Which #1 seed will be the first out of the NCAA tourney?
Up to 1 answer(s) was/were allowed
Syracuse (47%, 9 Vote(s))
Duke (26%, 5 Vote(s))
Kansas (21%, 4 Vote(s))
Kentucky (6%, 1 Vote(s))
Total Voters: 19
I’ll be back with the Bouncing Mozzarella bracket Thursday morning – I don’t want you thieves to steal my bracket and go the other way.
- First things first, congratulations to Jamie McMurray for winning the longest Daytona “500″ (or should it be Daytona 520?) in history. That was some serious driving to come back from bad-loose midrace. I wish Roush had been able to hang onto him (or get rid of David Ragan).
- We almost could call it the Roushketeer Invitational. In addition to McMurray winning it, we had Greg Biffle 3rd, Matt Kenseth 8th (more on him in a bit), Carl Edwards 9th, Jeff Burton 11th, Mark Martin 12th, Ragan 16th and Kurt Busch 22nd.
- While the 8th place finish for Kenseth was good considering up until the last restart he had been bascially mid-20s all day and half the night, it’s not exactly how I’d draw it up – “Let’s put the wrong shocks in the car, run wicked-loose all day, get a Darlington stripe, replace the shocks after the first red flag, chew up the splitter just before the second red flag, fix that after red flag #2, and then hang around in the back of the lead pack until the white flag, which won’t be until lap 207.”
- Speaking of all day and half the night, that was an epic pavement fail in turn 2. You just can’t have potholes appearing right where the right-side tires need to be on the bottom groove. I don’t care what Tony Stewart and Edwards say – it’s time to repave the track. Oh, and repaving just a portion just isn’t going to cut it. Trust me on this one.
- I agree with Jeff Gluck (late of Scene Daily, now at SBNation.com) that something needs to be done with rained-out qualifying. There were inarguably a few good cars that missed out on the race because they were unfortunate enough to be way down on the qualifying draw.
At the very least, NASCAR could have the go-or-go-homers qualify and start behind the “guaranteed” drivers. It would be better if NASCAR would be open to moving qualifying from its scheduled time to get it in.
- Related to that, Jack Roush (likely with some cash from Paul Menard’s dad John) bought Menard’s way into the race after the new-for-2010 #98 team drew the 49th position in the qualifying order and initially got frozen out after the rainout. While higher-profile drivers buying a “field-filler’s” starting spot is nothing new in NASCAR, usually it involves the owner of the bought-out team getting the owners’ points earned by the replacement driver.
What makes the Menard/Roush purchase so unusual is that they paid 5 teams (the drawn-into-the-show-and-scheduled-to-be-start-and-parked #97 NEMCO Chevy of Jeff Fuller, plus the 4 teams between them and the 43rd spot) to withdraw from the event. The significance of that is that the #98 not only gets the 150 owners’ points instead of the 16 they would have picked up in the “normal” deal, the teams that pulled out, which includes a couple of teams that hoped to run the full schedule, don’t get either the points or the attempt credit. Of course, since only the start-and-park NEMCO team would have otherwise picked up cash, and Menard was easily strong enough to have made the field had there been qualifying, maybe it’s time for a poll.
- Speaking of Menard, he took out the first of two females in the race, Chrissy Wallace, just as the cars got all the way up to speed.
- The other female in the race, Danica Patrick, took a car from an organization (JR Motorsports) that is capable of putting a front-running car out there and ran mid-pack until she drove right into the first Big One. In short, just another rookie performance.
- Speaking of JR Motorsports, her car owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was the biggest victim of the second Big One, taking a ride on the roof after he got turned on the backstretch.
- In the end, another spring Daytona race, another Tony Stewart win. Except for the snake-bit heartaches in the Daytona 500 and 5 fewer Cup trophies, it’s fair to say that Smoke is this generation’s Dale Earnhardt St.
NBC Sports’ Gregg Rosenthal challenged the Twittersphere to tiebreak a hypothetical 8-way 8-8 tie between the Miami Dolphins (7-8), New York Jets (8-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7), Baltimore Ravens OldBrowns (8-7), Houston Texans (8-7), Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8), Tennessee Titans (7-8) and Denver Broncos (8-7) for the two AFC wild-card playoff spots. The NFL tiebreaking procedures state that ties within the division get broken first.
Let’s start with the easiest division, the AFC West. Denver would be the only team at 8-8, so they go on to the first wild-card tiebreaker
Next, let’s go to the AFC North. Baltimore split their season series with Pittsburgh, but they have a better division record (3-3 versus 2-4). Baltimore would go on to the first wild-card tiebreaker.
The AFC East is a bit easier as Miami swept New York, and they would go on to the first wild-card tiebreaker.
Finally, we get to the wild division, the AFC South. Jacksonville has the best head-to-head-to-head record of the three teams (3-1 versus 2-2 for Tennessee and 1-3 for Houston), so they would go on to the first wild-card tiebreaker.
Now, we can go to the conference-level tiebreakers between Denver, Baltimore, Miami and Jacksonville:
No team either beat or lost to all of the others, so the first tiebreaker (head-to-head sweep/swept) is out.
Each team would have a 6-6 conference record, so the second tiebreaker (conference record) is out.
The four teams do not have 4 games against common opponents (sharing only Indianapolis and New England), so the third tiebreaker (record against common opponents, minimum of 4 games apiece) is out.
That devolves to the 4th tiebreaker, strength of victory. Between the games through tonight and the games necessary to create the 8-8 tie, Denver would have a SoV of 66-59, Baltimore would have a SoV of 58-67, Miami would have a SoV of 55-69, and Jacksonville would have a SoV of 46-80.
Denver would get the first wild-card spot based on strength of victory (none of the other 3 teams can make up the 10+ games). If either Baltimore or Miami has the 2nd-best strength of victory outright, that team would get the second wild-card spot since Jacksonville would not be able to catch either team. However, a difference of 2 1/2 games going into tomorrow night’s game means that it is possible they would tie. In that case, they would go to a two-team tiebreaker:
Baltimore and Miami did not play each other this year, so the first tiebreaker (head-to-head) is out.
Once again, they would have identical 6-6 conference records, so the second tiebreaker (conference record) is out.
They would have identical 2-3 records against common opponents (Indianapolis, New England, Pittsburgh and San Diego), so the third tiebreaker (record against common opponents, minimum of 4 games apiece) is out.
We already stipulated that strength of victory would be identical, so the fourth tiebreaker is out.
Between the games through tonight and the games necessary to create the 8-team 8-8 tie, the two teams’ strength of schedule is an identical 138-111. If one team pulls ahead, they would get the last wild-card spot. Otherwise…
…Things devolve to best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed. Miami has scored 336 points (8th in the AFC) and given up 360 points (14th in the AFC), for a combined 11th. Baltimore has scored 370 points (4th in the AFC) and given up 248 points (2nd in the AFC) for a combined 3rd, easily favoring Baltimore.
Revisions/extensions (11:20 pm 12/27/2009) - Things only start over if a tie remains after breaking up a 4-way tie. The post has been shortened to reflect that.
R&E part 2 (11:25 pm 12/27/2009) - Corrected a rather-embarrassing typo. I originally listed Houston twice in the list of 8.