There are only TWO weeks left in the NFL season, but NONE of the seeds have been decided in the AFC. This weekend we saw TWO spots being clinched by the Pats and the Jags respectively, which means that THREE teams have CLINCHED a Playoff berth. THREE spots are still not clinched and there are SEVEN teams fighting for those spots, so the action in the AFC is going to be really fun to watch over the next TWO weeks. In this blog, I will go through the playoff scenarios for all TEN remaining teams in the AFC and what seed they can finish with. The seeds below are as of the time of this blog was published, they will CHANGE over the next TWO weeks.
Teams that WOULD be IN the playoffs, IF the season ended TODAY- the Pats, the Steelers, the Jags, the Chiefs, the Titans, and the Bills
1 Seed- New England Patriots, 11-3, Clinched AFC East
In the most CRAZY game of the season against the Steelers yesterday, the Pats were able to HOLD ON and get a last minute WIN to clinch the AFC East. By beating the Steelers, they took over as the ONE seed in the AFC after getting the tiebreaker over the Steelers. The Pats have NOT clinched home field advantage OR first round bye yet, but can do so next week.
Clinching Scenarios- The Pats can CLINCH a first round bye with a WIN at HOME over the Bills next week AND a Jags ROAD LOSS against the 49ers. They can also CLINCH home field advantage next week with a WIN over the Bills AND a Steelers ROAD LOSS against the Texans. The Pats are going to end up with the ONE seed in the AFC, but they could end up being the THREE seed if things go MURKY in the AFC over the next TWO weeks.
2 Seed- Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-3, Clinched AFC North
The Steelers COUGHED UP a chance to secure a first round bye yesterday, and could have gotten some SPACE between them and the Pats with a WIN, but they now fall to the TWO seed in the AFC. They also lost their BEST player, wide receiver Antonio Brown, in the game yesterday, and his status for next week’s game is UNCERTAIN at this point. The Steelers have a relatively EASY schedule over the next TWO weeks, so they should end up with AT LEAST a first round bye, but if they LOSE games that they should not, like yesterday, then they could fall to the THREE seed, because they DO NOT hold the tiebreaker over the Jags.
Clinching Scenarios- The Steelers can CLINCH a first round bye with a WIN on Christmas day over the Texans on the ROAD AND a Jags LOSS to the 49ers on the ROAD. They can climb back into the ONE seed in the AFC if they WIN and the Pats LOSE to the Bills at home on Sunday. If the Steelers do what they are supposed to do, then they will end up AT LEAST the TWO seed in the AFC, but if things get MURKY then they could EITHER be a ONE or a THREE seed in the playoffs.
3 Seed- Jacksonville Jaguars, 10-4, Clinched Playoff Berth, Leads AFC South
The Jags had a MEMORABLE day yesterday, as they CLINCHED the franchise’s first playoff berth in TEN years, but they are NOT DONE just yet. If not for the Pats COMEBACK against the Steelers, they would have JUMPED the Pats for the TWO seed, but are now STUCK as a THREE seed. They HOLD the tiebreaker over BOTH the Steelers and the Jags right now, which can come in handy later. The Titans LOST to the 49ers on the ROAD which gave the Jags a ONE game lead in the division and a chance to CLINCH the AFC South next week.
Clinching Scenarios- The Jags can CLINCH the AFC South with a WIN over the 49ers on the ROAD and a Titans LOSS to the Rams at Home. They can also move back into the TWO seed with a WIN AND EITHER a Pats LOSS to the Bills OR the Steelers LOSS to the Texans. They can jump to the ONE seed with a WIN AND if BOTH the Pats AND the Steelers LOSE next week. The Jags could end up in a GREAT position for the playoffs, but they CANNOT afford to LOSE over the next TWO weeks, if they want things to end up GREAT.
4 Seed- Kansas City Chiefs, 8-6, Leads AFC West
The Chiefs were able to get SEPERATION between them and the Chargers with a WIN at HOME on Saturday night against the aforementioned Chargers. The Chiefs now have a ONE game lead in the division, but have not CLINCHED a playoff berth yet, BUT they can do so next week.
Clinching Scenarios- The Chiefs CLINCH the AFC WEST with a WIN at HOME against the Steelers AND a Chargers LOSS to the Jets on the ROAD. They can also CLINCH a playoff berth with a WIN over the Dolphins AND a LOSS by the Ravens against the Colts at HOME on Sunday. The mantra is simple for the Chiefs right now, KEEP WINNING.
5 Seed, Tennessee Titans, 8-6, Leads FIRST Wild Card
The Titans controlled their OWN destiny to CLINCHING the AFC South but after LOSING the 49ers on the ROAD yesterday, they NO LONGER do so. They are now TWO games behind the Jags in the division and with only TWO games left in the season, they need some help. They OWN tiebreakers over BOTH the Ravens and the Bills, which is why they are the FIVE seed right now. There is only ONE scenario in which they can CLINCH a playoff berth, but they should hoping for the Jags to LOSE next week, because the TWO teams play each other in Week 17, giving the Titans to control their own destiny again.
Clinching Scenario- The Titans can CLINCH a playoff berth with a WIN at HOME against the Rams AND LOSSES by BOTH the Ravens AND the Bills. The Titans DO NOT need to WIN the next TWO weeks, but they have the HARDEST remaining schedule among the THREE teams TIED at 8-6.
6 Seed, Buffalo Bills, 8-6, Leads SECOND Wild Card
The Bills still CONTROL their own destiny to the playoffs, if they WIN out then they are IN. They a TOUGH game this week against the Pats on the ROAD. They need to WIN that game to keep controlling their OWN destiny to the playoffs. They currently OWN the tiebreaker over the Ravens but that could change after next week. There is NO scenario in which the Bills can CLINCH a playoff berth this week, but they can LEAPFROG teams in the standings.
Leapfrog Scenario- The Bills move to the FIVE seed with a WIN over the Pats on the ROAD AND a Titans LOSS to the Rams at HOME. Things get MURKY for the Bills if they LOSE, so they should KEEP WINNING.
Teams that WOULD NOT make the Playoffs IF the season ended TODAY- the Ravens, the Chargers, the Raiders, and the Dolphins
7 Seed- Baltimore Ravens, 8-6, OUT of the playoffs based on TIEBREAKERS
EVEN THOUGH the Ravens are OUT of the playoffs right now, they should feel CONFIDENT that they will get into the playoffs. They have the EASIEST of the THREE teams TIED at 8-6 and I would be SHOCKED if they did not finish the season at 10-6. I think the Bills and the Titans will LOSE AT LEAST ONE game over the next TWO weeks, giving the Ravens to LEAPFROG them in the standings and get IN the playoffs. Things seem MURKY for the Ravens, but in reality they are not that MURKY.
Leapfrog Scenario- The Ravens get IN to the playoffs with a WIN over the Colts at Home AND IF EITHER the Titans OR the Bills LOSE. They jump to the FIVE seed in the AFC if they WIN and BOTH the Titans AND the Bills LOSE next week.
8 Seed, Los Angeles Chargers, 7-7, ONE game back in BOTH the AFC South and the Wild Card Standings
The Chargers went into Week 15 controlling their OWN destiny to the Playoffs, but they NO LONGER do so. After LOSING to the Chiefs on the ROAD, things are really MURKY for the Chargers to get into the Playoffs. They are LOSING the Tiebreakers over the Chiefs, the Titans, the Bills, AND the Ravens, so there is NO scenario in which they can LEAPFROG anyone next week, but they can ELIMINATED from the playoffs.
Elimination Scenario- The Chargers are ELIMINATED from the playoffs IF they LOSE to the Jets on the ROAD AND they need TWO of the FOUR teams, the Chiefs, the Titans, the Ravens, and the Bills, to LOSE their games next week. The Chargers should be able to BEAT the lowly Jets, so I think that they will stay ALIVE going into Week 17.
9 Seed, Oakland Raiders, 6-8, TWO games back in BOTH the AFC South and the Wild Card Standings
The Raiders could have INCREASED their playoff chances last night, but they LOST to the Cowboys at HOME and now things are really MURKY for them. They need to LEAPFROG THREE teams to get to the playoffs and they CANNOT LEAPFROG any of them next week, they can only be ELIMINATED next week.
Elimination Scenario- The Raiders are ELIMINATED from the playoffs if they LOSE to the Eagles on the ROAD OR IF TWO of the THREE teams at 8-6, the Titans, the Bills, AND the Ravens, WIN their game next week. I CANNOT see a scenario in which the Raiders make the playoffs, but they need to follow their old owner, Al Davis’ words and “JUST WIN BABY”, and hope things get MURKY else where.
10 Seed, Miami Dolphins, 6-8, TWO games out of the Wild Card
The Dolphins need to LEAPFROG FOUR TEAMS to get to the Playoffs and they DO NOT hold a tiebreaker over any of the teams they are behind in the standings. They have a TOUGH schedule for the next TWO weeks, so they WILL NOT be able to LEAPFROG anyone. IF the Dolphins find a way to make the playoffs, then I might just STOP WATCHING THE NFL, because the Dolphins are NOT going to make the playoffs.
Elimination Scenario- The Dolphins are ELIMINATED from the playoffs with a LOSS to Chiefs OR IF the Titans, the Bills, OR the Ravens WIN their game next week. The Dolphins can keep believing that they will get to the playoffs, but they need to KEEP WINNING and a lot of things need to get MURKY.
Those were the scenarios for all TEN teams still ALIVE in the AFC. IF I had to guess, I would say that the SIX teams in the AFC that make the playoffs would be the Pats, the Steelers, the Jags, the Chiefs, the Titans, and the Ravens. I am REALLY BAD at guesses, so check back next week to see how WRONG I am.
The NFC playoff picture will be released tomorrow because it is going to be affected by tonight’s game.