The calendar has officially turned to December and there are now only FOUR weeks left in the NFL regular season. Some teams are making their FINAL push for the Playoffs, while others are TANKING for a HIGH draft pick. Nobody cares about BAD teams, so we are going to focus on the teams that believe that the playoffs are in their NEAR FUTURE. In this blog, I will go through each team still alive for the Playoffs and talk about what they need to do to play MEANINGFUL games in January with the end goal of playing a game in EARLY February.
Instead of doing one LONG blog for both conferences, I am going to divide them into two. In this blog, I will preview the AFC Playoff Picture with the NFC Playoff Picture releasing in a couple of hours.
The AFC East
The Pats COMFORTABLY beat the Bills this weekend and that basically CLINCHED the division for them. They play the Steelers in a couple of weeks, so they have SHIFTED their focus from the division on to getting a high seed in the AFC playoffs. I would love to see the Pats NOT win the AFC East, but I will have to wait another year to see their demise.
The Bills dropped to 6-6 after losing to the Pats, and THOUGH their chances of winning the division are slim, they are still ALIVE in the Wild Card race. The Bills are currently ONE game behind the Ravens for the final Wild Card, but the Bills have a slightly EASIER schedule than the Ravens. I will go into more detail about what the Ravens need to do, down below, but IF the Bills want to make the Playoffs they will win ALL of their remaining games and hope that they get some HELP from other teams.
The Jets and the Dolphins are still mathematically ALIVE for the Playoffs, but I highly doubt either team will get there. They are both TWO games behind the Ravens for that last spot and have a BUNCH of teams between them and the Ravens, so a lot of things would need to go their way for EITHER the Jets or the Dolphins to make the Playoffs this season.
The AFC North
The Steelers had a HUGE comeback win over the Bengals last night and they are inching closer towards officially CLINCHING the division. The Steelers host the Ravens at home on Sunday Night and they can mathematically CLINCH the division with a win and start focusing on their seeding in the AFC Playoffs. The Steelers still play the Pats, so they control their own destiny in terms of what seeding they get in the Playoffs. I would be SHOCKED if the Steelers do not have a first round BYE in the Playoffs.
The Ravens currently hold the SECOND and FINAL Wild Card in the AFC and they control their own destiny to the Playoffs. They have THREE winnable games left on their schedule and the only game I think they LOSE is against their rivals, the Steelers, anything can happen in rivalry games so they could easily RUN the TABLE and go into the Playoffs with a 11-5 or 10-6 record. The Ravens might get an easier first round Playoff game if they remain the SIX seed in the AFC Playoffs, and I expect them to hold on to the LAST spot and return to the Playoffs.
The AFC South
This division is the second most COMPETITIVE division in the Conference and another one that will have TWO playoff teams come out of it. The Titans and the Jags are currently TIED division lead, but the Titans hold the tiebreaker for now. The Jags are the fifth seed in the Playoffs with a game between them and the Ravens. These two teams play each other in Week 17 of the season, and that game will decide which team WINS the division and gets a home playoff game, while the other has to settle for the Wild Card.
The AFC West
This is the most COMPETITIVE division in the NFL, with THREE teams currently TIED for the division LEAD. The Chiefs, the Chargers, and the Raiders are all 6-6 right now, but the Chiefs currently hold the tiebreaker. All three play each ONE more time this season, so the winner of this division will be decided on the field most likely. The Raiders and the Chiefs face off this weekend, than the Chiefs host the Chargers in Week 15, and the season ends for the Chargers and the Raiders in Los Angeles when these teams face off. Whichever team is able to WIN this round robin, will WIN the division and get a HOME Playoff game in January.
All THREE teams are ONE game behind the Ravens for the LAST Wild Card spot, but I do not think TWO playoff teams will come out of this division. If I had to guess, I think the Chargers WIN the division, while the Raiders finishing second and the Chiefs third respectively. The Chiefs have lost SIX of their last SEVEN games, and I do not think they will be able to RIGHT their SHIP, while the Chargers have been one of the HOTTEST team in the NFL as they won SIX of their last EIGHT games after starting out the season at 0-4.
That was the preview of all FOUR divisions in the AFC. I LOVE to make predictions, so I am going to say that the SIX teams that MAKE the Playoffs in the AFC are the Pats, the Steelers, the Jags, the Chargers, the Titans, and the Ravens. I am really SORRY to all these teams, because they will all receive the dreaded Mehtphors’ curse now.
The NFC Playoff Picture will be out in a couple of hours so be on the lookout for that.