There are now only THREE weeks in the NFL regular season, but only ONE team has CLINCHED a playoff spot in the AFC. The Steelers CLINCHED the NFC North with a WIN on Sunday Night, but are still battling the Pats for home field advantage, and those two teams will FACE OFF in Pittsburgh on Sunday to make things less MURKY at the top of the AFC. There are still ELEVEN outside of the Steelers teams that are mathematically alive for the Playoffs but there are only FIVE spots that they can go in, so in this blog I will go through each REMAINING team in the AFC and what they would need to happen to get IN, with the NFC playoff picture dropping later TODAY.
The AFC East- Teams still alive- All FOUR
The Pats had a chance to CLINCH to division last night with a win over the Dolphins and ELIMINATE them from playoff contention, but could not get it DONE and here we are going into Week 15 with all FOUR teams in the AFC East still alive for the Playoffs.
The Jets and the Dolphins both need miraculous scenarios to get into the Playoffs and I DO NOT think that EITHER team will get it. Basically, both teams need to WIN ALL of the REMAINING games on their schedule and hope that teams in FRONT of them LOSE to make way for them to get IN. The Jets need to leap frog FIVE teams to get into the Playoffs, while the Dolphins need FOUR. Even though both teams are STILL mathematically ALIVE, I do not think either team has enough time to get IN.
IF the season ended TODAY, the Bills would end the LONGEST active playoff drought in the NFL and MAKE the playoffs, but unfortunately for Bills Mafia, the season does not END just yet. The Bills are currently TIED with the Ravens and the Chargers for the LAST spot IN, but they own the TIEBREAKER thus pushing them over the Chargers and the Ravens. The Bills play THREE divisional games the rest of the way, if they win ALL THREE games then they will be IN, but if they LOSE one game then things will get MURKY for the Bills and they would need help from other teams. For the time being, the Bills control their own DESTINY to the Playoffs.
Speaking of controlling your own DESTINY, despite losing last night, the Pats still control what SEED they will get in the AFC Playoffs. IF they win on Sunday against the Steelers on the ROAD, then they will have the CLINCH the AFC East and have the INSIDE track to home field in the Playoffs, so for the Pats the playoff scenario is pretty SIMPLE, WIN on Sunday and they are IN.
AFC North- Teams still alive- Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals
The Bengals are in the SAME BOAT as the Jets and the Dolphins, but they would need to leap frog SIX teams to get to the Playoffs. I simply DO NOT think that is going to happen and they will be eliminated from Playoff contention IF they lose to the Vikings in Minnesota on Sunday, which I think is GUARANTEED to happen, so unfortunately for the Bengals this year they will not be able to LOSE in the traditional Saturday Afternoon Wild Card game.
The Ravens still control their own DESTINY towards getting a WILD CARD spot. IF they WIN OUT, they will take over the Bills in the Tiebreaker and get IN, so the Playoff Scenario for the Ravens is pretty simple, KEEP WINNING.
The Steelers have already CLINCHED the division, but they would like to get a first round bye, which they can CLINCH with a WIN this weekend and a Jags loss, but they can also basically clinch the #1 seed in the AFC with a WIN over the Pats on Sunday.
The AFC South- Teams still alive- Jags and Titans
The Titans are now ONE game behind the Jags for the division but still hold the TIEBREAKER and are currently the #5 seed in the Playoffs. If they WIN OUT, then they win the division and are the #3 seed, but even IF they are not able to WIN the division, I still do think they will get into the Playoffs. There is a weird scenario in which they can CLINCH playoff spot this weekend, but it is highly unlikely, so they should just worry about WINNING their games and the rest will take care of itself.
The Jags still have a chance to get the #1 seed in the AFC in a weird scenario, BUT could also MISS the playoffs in a weird scenario. They will clinch a Playoff Spot with a WIN on Sunday, so they can stop worrying about getting IN, and start worrying about what SEED they will get. They play the Titans in Week 17, the WINNER of that game will WIN the AFC South and probably get the #3 seed in the Playoffs. The Jags’ DESTINY has pretty much been SET for them unless if they go HAYWIRE and LOSS of the REMAINING games on their schedule.
The AFC West- Teams still alive- Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders
The Raiders are ONE game back of the Chiefs and the Chargers for the division LEAD, but need help from other teams to get IN. They play the Chargers to END the season, but would need the Chiefs to be ELIMINATED from the division by that time to get IN. The Raiders are also ONE game back for the Wild Card, so if they WIN OUT, they would STILL need HELP from other teams to get IN, so even though there is a CHANCE that the Raiders can get IN, it is highly UNLIKELY.
The Chiefs and the Chargers play each other in Kansas City on Saturday Night. The WINNER of that game will take a ONE game lead in the division and will probably WIN it when it is all set and done, however the LOSER of that game is not OUT just yet. The loser of the game could be TIED for the #6 seed and be just ONE game back in the division, so life is not OVER for the team that LOSES on Saturday, but it does not control its own DESTINY anymore.
Those were the scenarios of all the REMAINING teams in the AFC. If I had to guess I think the SIX playoff teams in the AFC will be the Pats, the Steelers, the Jags, the Chargers, the Titans, and the Chiefs, but hey what do i KNOW?
The NFC playoff picture will be released in a couple of hours, so be on the lookout for that.