AFC Playoff Picture Update

The Dolphins 34-14 domination at home against the Raiders kept Miami’s slim playoff hopes mathematically alive.  The Dolphins defense continued shutting down offenses including one of the most explosive ones in the NFL — the Dolphins even got a pick six by Kevin Burnett.  The Dolphins offense continued playing efficiently with ZERO interceptions and ZERO fumbles along with grinding out 209 net rushing yards.  And, the special teams even stepped up their game with a 77 yard kick-off return by Clyde Gates, 7 touch-backs plus two field goals by Dan Carpenter, and a 55.5 yard punting average by Brandon Fields.

The Dolphins’ slim chance to make the playoffs requires them to win out.  I don’t believe that will happen.  They have a tough game this week against an Eagles team that is getting healthy.  Then, they have tough games at the end of the season against the Patriots (away) and the Jets (home).  I think the Dolphins will beat the Eagles based on their respective defenses.  The Dolphins are 5th overall in scoring defense being 5th against the run and 24th against the pass.  On the other hand, the Eagles are 22nd overall in scoring defense being 17th against the run and 13th against the pass.  Look for the Dolphins to run the ball and the Eagles to pass on offense.  I predict the Dolphins will wind up 7-9 for the season … AGAIN … third year in a row!  Here are the Dolphins remaining games in the 2011 NFL Season.

Dolphins (4-8):  Eagles, @ Bills, @ Patriots, Jets — Final Record Overall 7-9, Division 3-3, Conference 5-7.

By the way … yes, I know … last week, I actually picked the Raiders to beat the Dolphins.  Boy, I blew that prediction.  However, I was 7-3 overall with my predictions in the AFC playoff picture.  Not too bad!

Here is an updated look at the playoff picture in the AFC including the remaining games for each team along with some predictions (losses in red).  Let’s start with the current Division leaders.  The Patriots continue on cruise control with a relatively easy schedule for the remainder of the season — only one team has a winning record (Broncos).  The Ravens also have only one remaining game against a team with a winning record — a big final game of the season against the Bengals in Cincy.  The Texans are in a world of hurt after losing both their first and second QBs.  But, they continue to win with the NFL’s 3rd ranked rushing offense and the NFL’s 2nd ranked scoring defense (3rd against the pass and 4th against the run).  They have two tough games remaining to include the Titans in Houston at the end of the season.  And, with the Raiders loss to the Dolphins, the Broncos have taken over the lead in the AFC West with a tough defense and an offense that is adapting to Tim Tebow’s style of play.  They have two tough upcoming home games against the QB-less Bears and against the Patriots.

Patriots (9-3):  @ Redskins, @ Broncos, Dolphins, Bills — Final Record Overall 13-3, Division 5-1, Conference 10-2.

Ravens (9-3):  Colts, @ Chargers, Browns, @ Bengals — Final Record Overall 12-4, Division 5-1, Conference 9-3.

Texans (9-3):  @ Bengals, Panthers, @ Colts, Titans — Final Record Overall 12-4, Conference 9-3.

Broncos (7-5):  Bears, Patriots, @ Bills, Chiefs — Final Record Overall 10-6, Conference 8-4.

The wild card spots are currently being held by the Steelers and Bengals.  It is unlikely that this will change given their remaining schedules.  The Steelers will likely challenge the Ravens for the AFC North title hoping for a Baltimore slip.  Their game next week in San Francisco could be the game of the week in the NFL.  The Bengals are playing tough on defense along with doing just enough to win on offense.  They have two tough remaining games both at home against the Texans and Ravens.  Their game this week against the Texans could be the game of the week in the AFC.

Steelers (9-3):  Browns, @ 49ers, Rams, @ Browns — Final Record Overall 12-4, Division 4-2, Conference 9-3.

Bengals (7-5):  Texans, @ Rams, Cardinals, Ravens – Final Record Overall 11-5, Conference 8-4.

There are three teams who are also currently in the hunt for a wild card spot.  The Titans are playing well — but, they lost to the Bengals earlier in the season and would be at a tie-breaking disadvantage.  They have two tough remaining games — one this week against the Saints in Nashville and one at the end of the season against the Texans in Houston.  The Jets seem to be playing just good enough to win almost losing to the Redskins last weekend.  They have two tough games at the end of the season playing a neutral field game against the Giants (who will be fighting for a playoff spot of their own) and at the Dolphins (who would love nothing more than to keep the Jets from getting into the playoffs).  The Raiders seem to be falling apart at the seams looking awful against the Dolphins with many weapons sitting on the bench with injuries.  And, for all those Miami media pundits who screamed for Dolphins to acquire Carson Palmer, how did his play grab yah?

Titans (7-5):  Saints, @ Colts, Jaguars, @ Texans – Final Record Overall 9-7, Conference 7-5.

Raiders (7-5):  @ Packers, Lions, @ Chiefs, Chargers — Final Record Overall 9-7, Conference 7-5.

Jets (7-5):  Chiefs, @ Eagles, Giants, @ Dolphins – Final Record Overall 9-7, Division 3-3, Conference 6-6.

Note: I predict the Dolphins will actually have a better Division record than the Jets.

There are three other teams still mathematically in the hunt for a wild card spot. But, all are heading in the wrong direction. It is hard to believe that they started off strong and now look awful.  I actually think the Bills and Chiefs will lose all of their remaining games.  The Chargers have three tough games — one at home against the Ravens and two on the road against the Lions and Raiders.  The Chargers need to win out to have any chance of making the playoffs.

Chargers (5-7):  Bills, Ravens, @ Lions, @ Raiders — Final Record Overall 6-10, Conference 5-7.

Bills (5-7):  @ Chargers, Dolphins, Broncos, @ Patriots – Final Record Overall 5-11, Division 1-5, Conference 3-9.

Chiefs (5-7):  @ Jets, Packers, Raiders, @ Broncos — Final Record Overall 5-11, Conference 3-9.

So, there you have it. A complete up to date look at the AFC Playoff picture on PhinPhanatic.com.

Anda big prediction … the Dolphins will end up with a 2012 NFL Draft first round draft pick in the mid teens.  So, say good bye to Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Robert Griffin III, and Landry Jones.  Rather, say hello to another first round offensive lineman draft pick.  I am starting the bandwagon for taking Kellen Moore (Boise State) in the third or fourth round round — he is a winner that doesn’t make mistakes!  I know … I’m crazy … he is too small to play in the NFL at 6′ and 195 lbs.  But, I supported taking Andy Dalton.  And, many thought I was crazy.  Kellen Moore is extremely intelligent and will bulk up to 210 or 215 by draft time — then, he’d be same height and weight as Drew Brees.

What do you think?


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Topics: Andrew Luck, Baltimore Ravens, Brandon Fields, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Clyde Gates, Dan Carpenter, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Kellen Moore, Kevin Burnett, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, NY Jets, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Robert Griffin III, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans

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