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Page 12--Friday, December 7, 1979-The Michigan Daily
STEELERS, EAGLES ALREADY IN
13 teams left in NFL playoff fight
X40Smith U n iers i
By SCOTT M. LEWIS
Pennsylvania pro football fans can
afford to relax just a bit as the National
Football League enters its second last
regular season week. However, folks in
Cleveland, Denver, Washington, and 10
other cities whose teams are battling
for eight playoff spots will have to cross
their fingers and hope - and wait.
The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh
Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles
are the only teams which have clinched
berths in the post-season showcase
which opens Dec. 23. The Steelers hum-
bled Cincinnati, 37-17 last Sunday in
raising their mark to 11-3, assuring an
eighth straight playoff appearance for
Coach Chuck Noll's squad.
The Eagles, 10-4, feasted upon the
Detroit Lions 44-7 last weekend,
guaranteeing themselves some playoff
dough for the second year in a row, and
only the second time since 1960.
WHO, WHEN and where the two
teams will play in the 10-team tour-
nament is beyond even Howard Cosell's
clairvoyance. But at least the Steelers
and Eagles can tell their families they
(probably) won't be home for Christ-
Determining who plays who irr the
playoffs is one of the great unexplained
mysteries for NFL fans. The qualifying
rules are these:
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The winners of the six divisions
qualify, as do four wild card teams.
These wild card teams do not
necessarily have to be divisional run-
ners-up; they simply are the two from
each conference with the best records
among the divisional non-winners.
ter off losing a game than winning.
(Recall, for instance, Baltimore's 13-10
"blocked punt" loss to the Lions in
TIES ARE broken through the
following means: (1) Games played
between the teams involved, (2) com-
Divisibn W L Div.
San Diego Western
New England Eastern
Division W L Div. Conf.
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Complications arise when two or parative won-lost records within the
more teams end in a tie. The league has division, (3) comparative records
developed a tie-breaking system which, within the conference, (4) net point
while equitable, has also created margin in divisional games (points
situations in which a team would be bet- scored minus points allowed), (5) net
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point margin in conference games, (6)
net point margin in all games, (7) coin
A look at the standings, including
division and conference records, may
help fans decide who to - and who NOT
to - root for this weekend.
In the American Conference, Miami
(which plays Detroit in the Silverdome
Sunday) can clinch the Eastern
Division crown if New England loses on
the road to the New York Jets. If both
teams win, or even if Miami loses, the
race would be decided next week, when
the Patriots host Minnesota and. the
Dolphins entertain the Jets.
The AFC Central finds Pittsburghin
a position to win the division and gain a
home field advantage in the playoffs if
it defeats Houston Monday night in the
Astrodome. If Houston wins, the teams'
season finales will determine the Cen-
tral victor. The Steelers play at home
against Buffalo and the Oilers host
CLEVELAND, WHICH defeated
Houston last Sunday, must win at
Oakland this week to remain in the wild
card race. The Browns close their
season against Cincinnati. Even a pair
of victories and an 11-5 record might not
be enough for Coach Sam Rutigliano's
team, called by one observer "the
NBA's answer to the NFL."
San Diego could have put :a
stronghold on the Western title by
knocking off Atlanta at home. But the
Chargers didn't, leaving the door ajar
for Denver. The two Western powers
square off in San Diego Dec. 17 in what
should be the deciding contest.
Oakland's comeback win over New
Orleans last Monday kept the Raidets
alive (albeit barely) for a wild card
spot. They need home wins over
Cleveland and Seattle - and a collapse
from Houston and San Diego.
In the National Conference's Eastern
Division, the no-longer-surprisiuig
Eagles can capture the title by beating
the visiting Dallas Cowboys Saturday.
A Cowboy victory, on the other hand,
would clinch at least a wild card spot
and pave the way for an outright Dallas
divisional crown. If the Cowboys beat
the Eagles and win at home against
Washington next week, the division is
theirs because their conference record
would be superior to the Eagles'.
WASHINGTON NEEDS a home win
over Cincinnati, an upset of Dallas and
two Philadelphia losses to gain division
Any Tampa Bay victory or Chicago
defeat gives the Central Division-
leading Buccaneers their first.title
ever. The Bears, who close against
lowly Green Bay and St. Louis, can still
shoot for a wild card spot even if they
don't win the division.
In the West, it appears ; that Los
Angeles is going to win the division in
spite of itself. A victory in Atlanta Sun-
day would clinch a Ram title,. New
Orleans needs a Falcon victory and its
own triumph over the Rams next week
in the Coliseum.
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Gift certificates available
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Offer expires Dec. 24, 1979
OPEN 7 DAYS
Weeknight Happy Hour
8:00 PM til Closing
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