Week 14: AFC Playoff Picture Update

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

Texans (10-3): Panthers, @ Colts, Titans — Final Record Overall 13-3, Division 6-0, Conference 10-2.

Ravens (10-3):  @ Chargers, Browns, @ Bengals — Final Record Overall 12-4, Division 5-1, Conference 9-3.

Broncos (8-5):  Patriots, @ Bills, Chiefs — Final Record Overall 10-6, Division 4-2, Conference 8-4.

The wild card spots are currently being held by the Steelers and Jets.  The Steelers will get one one of the two wild card spots and actually challenge the Ravens for the AFC North title hoping for a Baltimore slip.  Their game this week in San Francisco could be the game of the week in the NFL.  Of all the teams in the AFC Playoff hunt, the Jets have THE most difficult road.  The have to play the rejuvenated Eagles in Philly and the Giants at Met Life Stadium — both of these teams are in the playoff hunt in the wild NFC East.  Then, they have to play a rivalry game against the Dolphins in Miami at the end of the regular season — this is a very important game because it will affect their Conference record which could be a tie-breaker with the Titans and Bengals.  If the Jets make the playoffs as a wild card team, they will have earned it — I do not predict they will make it.

Steelers (10-3):  @ 49ers, Rams, @ Browns — Final Record Overall 12-4, Division 4-2, Conference 9-3.

Jets (8-5): @ Eagles, Giants, @ Dolphins – Final Record Overall 9-7, Division 3-3, Conference 6-6.

There are three teams who are still in the hunt for a wild card spot.  The Bengals will have to break out of a slump to make the playoffs as a wild card team — they have lost four of their last five games.  They have winnable games against the Rams in St. Louis and at home against the Cardinals.  Then, they can carry a winning momentum into a big final Conference game against the Raven in Week 17.  The Titans remaining games are all in the AFC South.  They too will have a tough game in Week 17 against the Texans, who will likely be fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs.  The Raiders continue to slide out of the playoff picture getting clobbered by the Packers last week making it two bad losses in row.  This week they have the Lions at home and then Divisional games against the Chiefs (in KC) and the Chargers (at home).  I predict the Bengals will grab the last AFC wild card spot.

Bengals (7-6): @ Rams, Cardinals, Ravens – Final Record Overall 10-6, Division 3-3, Conference 7-5.

Titans (7-6):  @ Colts, Jaguars, @ Texans – Final Record Overall 9-7, Division 3-3, Conference 7-5.

Raiders (7-6):  Lions, @ Chiefs, Chargers — Final Record Overall 9-7, Division 4-2, Conference 7-5.

It is interesting to point out that the final AFC Playoff Wild Card spot could be decided in Week 17 with the Jets, Bengals, Titans, and Raiders all playing key divisional games vying for the best Conference record should any have identical records.  Should they all finish with identical 10-6 records, the Titans would have the edge with only four Conference losses — the others would have at least five.

There are three other teams still mathematically in the hunt for a wild card spot.  But, the Chargers are the only ones who really have any hope of making the playoffs.  They would have to win out playing difficult games against the Ravens (at home), the Lions (in Detroit) and the Raiders (in Oakland) — and, then pray for some serious help.  I predict all three will lose their remaining games and challenge the Dolphins for position in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Chargers (6-7):  Ravens, @ Lions, @ Raiders — Final Record Overall 6-10, Division 2-4, Conference 5-7.

Bills (5-8):  Dolphins, Broncos, @ Patriots – Final Record Overall 5-11, Division 1-5, Conference 3-9.

Chiefs (5-8):  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.


Note:  I have decided not to write an article about the firing of Tony Sparano — there have been more articles about the subject than one can shake a stick at.  However, I would like point out that after losing 7 straight games nearly everyone was calling for Sparano’s head on a platter — the media seemed to be unanimous and more than 2/3 of the fans in polls supported the firing.  Then, the Dolphins won four of five games and everything seemed to be reversed — the media seemed to be unanimous and 2/3 of the fans in polls supported giving him another season.  Finally, the Dolphins lose to the Eagles guaranteeing a losing season and everything reverses again.  Boy, Miami fans are fickle people, especially the media.  I believed after three home losses with the stadium relatively empty and seven losses overall, the writing was on the wall for Sparano’s firing.  Consider this, the Redskins, with the same record as the Dolphins, had 77,825 fans in their stadium for the game last weekend against the Patriots — a non-Division and non-Conference game.  If you cannot fill the stadium seats, the owner will lose his/her patience with you — real fast.  Stephen Ross had lost his patience with Tony Sparano back on Halloween. 

To Tony Sparano … Thank you for the effort, enthusiasm and class!  I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!  …  PS – Please, I beg of you, do not go and coach for the Patriots or Jets.


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