So with that, let's take a look at how our playoff picture has shifted in the past week:
Mary L is still atop the AFC, but Vlad M's loss last week slipped him out of bye and allowed Cutler's Revenge to take over the #2 spot. Meanwhile, Brenda's Bulldogs three-match losing streak has finally caught up with her, knocking her out of a Wild Card spot and allowing Secretly Victorious to make this an all-AFC West affair.
If you want a good idea how tight the NFC playoff picture is, just look at Evil Squad Of Evil who has slipped mightily, dropping from #1 to #6 with just a single loss. Boardwalkers took advantage and moved up from #2 to #1 (remember, both spots get you a first-round bye, but only #1 gets the $25 bonus!), while Ignats filled in the void by moving up to #2.
So if you're name appears in the grey -- or not at all -- then it's time to string those wins together and move on up. As it stands, we only have one player officially eliminated from playoff contention (sorry What's Football?), so there's still time to salvage nearly every season!
Ok, on to the divisionals:
We'll start off in the AFC North, which is quickly becoming up for grabs. A couple of weeks ago, Mean Machine had a comfortable lead, but back-to-back losses have left a void that could quickly be filled if he doesn't turn it around. The only thing keeping him there right now is the fact that the second-place Brenda's Bulldogs -- only one win behind Mean Machine -- is on a three-match skid of her own. If she can right the ship and get a win over JPP's Missing Fingers this week, then she'd be tied for the top spot with three weeks left -- not the worst position to be in. For his part, JPP's Missing Fingers is basically in "win out or get out" mode, as one more loss would all but eliminate him from playoff contention.
Another tight race is heating up in the AFC West where the division leading Mary L can make the next couple of weeks much easier for herself if she can get an important divisional win here. She has a 1.5 match lead over second place, and 2.5 over her opponent this week, Secretly Victorious. Even if Secretly Victorious doesn't catch up to Mary L, she still controls her own playoff fate. She moved up into the #6 Seed spot after a win last week, and a playoff berth is now guaranteed as long as she keeps up her winning streak.
Another 1st-vs-3rd contest is going on in the AFC East. Both Vlad M and Deesato will be facing divisional opponents in three of the final four weeks, so it goes without saying that this is a critical stretch for them both. Vlad M holds the lead right now, maintaining a one-win cushion in the division race making a playoff spot his to lose. Deesato heads into this match on a four-match losing streak, including a match against Vlad M two short weeks ago, and can afford zero more mistakes. He's three back from the division and two back from the second Wild Card spot, so realistically, winning out is his only hope right now.
Over in the NFC East, Bad Mice is doing all he can to save a season that seemed lost after Week 11. He was riding a five-match losing streak and his 3-7 record looked like it was going to be the dagger. Now he's put up back-to-back wins while the rest of the division has lost a combined six-straight. He's still two wins back from the lead, but things are looking a little less hopeless than they did two weeks ago. As for his opponent this week, Hyena, a loss here would leave him with a best-case record of 7-9 and on the outside looking in come January. No room at all for any slip-ups here.
While Boardwalkers has a nice lead in the NFC South at the moment, the division is still up for grabs should he stumble down the stretch. Leading the charge in that hope is Alabama Slammers, who is two wins back from Boardwalkers (after beating him last week) and would love to close that gap in this final month. A big part of that opportunity lies in the fact that the next three weeks will see two matchups against Beep Bops, who has been struggling mightily of late. Beep Bops has lost his last three, and the schedule makers have handed him a killer final stretch -- four divisional matches in the final four weeks. Winning all four would leave him at 8-8 and still needing a ton of help to make the postseason, so a loss would leave him 100% out of the playoff picture.
And that'll about do it for our early preview for this week. Your pick for TNF is due in by noon on Thursday, so head on over to the pick submission page and get that taken care of. Enjoy all!
Neither the remaining game results will have any bearing on the pool, with the four matches that are still active coming down to MNF score total. So check the updated pick chart and take a look back after tomorrow night's game to see how this big week wraps up.