By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

NFL playoff scenarios are the brain-teaser of the holiday season. The AFC has 14 of 16 teams still playoff-eligible, and if you thought the BCS formula was complex, don't even try to unscramble the NFL tie-breaker calculus. The tidbit to keep your eye on? Try "strength of victory," which has replaced "points-scored" as a critical tie-breaking metric.

What exactly is "strength of victory?" It's the season-ending winning percentages of every team your team has beaten. It's like judging your work performance by the productivity of co-workers you've crushed on the way to the top. It's like judging your dating success by the attractiveness of the exes whom you broke up with. (Hmm ... no points for being dumped by a hottie -- aka a "quality loss?" Wait, that's college hoops.) Regardless, it's a statistic to watch -- and increases the importance of all games in the final two weeks, even between dud teams.

For more on what's hot and what's not hot this week, check out the list below:

What's Hot, What's Not this week
Category Hot Not
Coaching-change announcements During a bowl game Before a bowl game
Florida State's biggest problem Is there
gambling on campus?
Who starts at
QB in the bowl game?
When Yao kills you Second time around First time you see him
Reborn career
James Posey on the Rockets

Kenny Thomas on the 76ers
Wrigley Field Lawsuit City Friendly Confines
MJ Back to being a pure scorer Do-it-all Mike
Top college players Deciding about
NFL draft status
Scrambling for
Heisman consideration
Heisman clincher West Coast bias E-mail marketing
Sarah Hughes Harvard-bound Defending Olympic title
Arena League growth region Vegas Jersey
Rangers jersey to be seen in
Pavel Bure

Eric Lindros
NBA owner Billionaires
(such as Robert Johnson)
Ex-star players
(such as Larry Bird)
NFL field surfaces Techno-turf Good ol' grass
Teenage hoops phenom Darko Milicic LeBron James
Allen Iverson Olympic savior International embarrassment
Hubie Brown Getting the job done They're hopeless with or without him
NFL game of the week Raiders-Broncos Bears-Panthers
Upcoming bowl games Tangerine Bowl (The Kliff Kingsbury Show) Las Vegas Bowl (UCLA in transition)
Rams guy with most juice
Marc Bulger

Mike Martz
NBA rookie worth paying to see Amare Stoudemire DaJuan Wagner
Laker-haters Keep laughing Hope Shaw doesn't inspire team
Hot free-agent commodity
Ivan Rodriguez

Greg Maddux
College hoops
Cincinnati

Oregon
Martha Burk tactic Websites TV appearances
Redskins strategy Draft picks matter Empty wins in
losing season matter
Alabama Greatest job in
college football
A nice job,
but A&M is better
Holiday-weekend flick
"Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers"

"Two Weeks Notice"

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "What's Hot, What's Not" trend-spotting list appears Thursdays. Got inside scoop on an up-and-coming trend? Want to declare something passé? Send this glimpse of your hipness to hotnotlist@yahoo.com.




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THE HOT LIST