The Patriots continued on cruise control by beating the Broncos last week in Denver. If they win their remaining games at home against the Dolphins and Bills, they will have home field advantage in the playoffs.. The Ravens had a rough game last week getting clobbered by the Chargers. However, they have control over their own destiny to get a first round bye in the playoffs — they have the tie-breaking advantage over the Texans and Steelers by beating them earlier in the season. But, they have a tough final game of the regular season against the Bengals in Cincy. The Texans had a tough game last week losing to the Panthers. But, they still could get a first round bye in the playoffs, if they win out and the Ravens lose one game. The Broncos lost last week to the Patriots, but are still leading the AFC West. If they win their remaining games at Buffalo and against the Chiefs, they will win the AFC West.
Patriots (11-3): Dolphins, Bills — Final Record Overall 13-3, Division 5-1, Conference 10-2.
Ravens (10-4): Browns, @ Bengals — Final Record Overall 11-5, Division 5-1, Conference 8-4.
Texans (10-4): @ Colts, Titans — Final Record Overall 12-4, Division 6-0, Conference 10-2.
Broncos (8-6): @ 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, despite both losing. The Steelers have already clinched one of the two spots and are challenging the Ravens for the AFC North title hoping for a Baltimore slip. The Jets currently hold the other wild card spot over the Bengals based on best win percentage in common games. However, they have a tough road ahead having to play Giants at Met Life Stadium and a rivalry game against the Dolphins in Miami. The game against the Dolphins is particularly important because it will affect their Conference record which could be a tie-breaker with the Bengals. I predict the Phins will beat the Jets and knock them out of the playoffs.
Steelers (10-4): Rams, @ Browns — Final Record Overall 12-4, Division 4-2, Conference 9-3.
Jets (8-6): Giants, @ Dolphins – Final Record Overall 8-8, Division 3-3, Conference 6-6.
There are four teams who are realistically still in the hunt for a wild card spot. Basically, the Bengals have to win out and then hope for a Jets loss. They have a big final game of the season against the Ravens in Cincy. The Titans lost a tough game last week to the winless Colts — a game they may regret losing. They have to win out and hope the Bengals lose to the Ravens and the Jets lose to the Dolphins. They will have a tough game in Week 17 against the Texans in Houston, who will likely be fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs. The Raiders lost a tough game last week to the Lions. They too have to win out and hope the Bengals lose to the Ravens and the Jets lose to the Dolphins. They have Divisional games remaining against the Chiefs (in KC) and the Chargers (at home) and could still win the AFC West. The Chargers looked very impressive last week beating up on the Ravens. They still have a chance to win the AFC West or get a wild card spot. But, they have to win their remaining games on the road against the Lions and Raiders — they are currently 2-4 on the road and 5-3 at home. I predict the Bengals will grab the last AFC wild card spot with the Jets, Titans, Raiders, and Chargers all finishing with 8-8 records.
Bengals (8-6): Cardinals, Ravens – Final Record Overall 10-6, Division 3-3, Conference 7-5.
Titans (7-7): Jaguars, @ Texans – Final Record Overall 8-8 Division 2-4, Conference 6-6.
Raiders (7-7): @ Chiefs, Chargers — Final Record Overall 8-8, Division 3-3, Conference 6-6.
Chargers (7-7): @ Lions, @ Raiders — Final Record Overall 8-8, Division 3-3, Conference 6-6.
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, Raiders and Chargers all playing important Conference games — the Chargers actually play the Raiders in Oakland. It is possible that 4 of the 5 teams could finish with identical 9-7 records with identical 7-5 Conference records. Then, it gets really complicated with who gets the final spot — likely the Jets. It should be an exciting Week 17 in the AFC.
So, there you have it. A complete up to date look at the AFC Playoff picture on PhinPhanatic.com.
Note: The Dolphins have a real chance to play spoiler in the last two weeks. If the Dolphins beat the Pats, they could help take away the Pats home field advantage in the playoffs. If the Dolphins beat the Jets, they could help knock the Jets out of the playoffs. And, if the Dolphins win out, they could ruin any chances on getting a top QB in the 2012 NFL Draft. So, do you want the Dolphins to win out?
What do you think?
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