The AFC Playoff Picture: Week 13-14
Two weeks on from the last installment, it’s time again to size up the AFC Playoffs.
As in the past, the projections are broken down into three categories: Locks, Probables, and Bubble. All analysis here builds on what I said in the last two installments, so if something doesn’t make sense at first it might help to read what I said before.
The Titans, naturally enough, remain the only sure-fire. They’re 11-1 and have outscored their opponents by a total of 129 points — best in the AFC and second only to the Giants in all of football. Jeff Fisher‘s squad is seventh in the AFC for total offense and third for total defense. They’ve allowed fewer points than the Ravens and are tied with Ray Lewis and company for second best in yards/play (4.5). We’ll learn a lot when they play Pittsburgh and Indy to close the season, but they’re in no matter what.
The Steelers (9-3) head this class, leading the league as they do in all three major defensive categories. Their remaining schedule, however, includes three brutal games (Cowboys, @Ravens, @Titans) and there’s basically no room for error.
That’s due to the Ravens (8-4), who are firmly established. Second in the conference in total defense and, amazingly, eighth in total offense. The biggest concern is whether or not they can find a way to win the division, or if their fate will depend on wild-card status.
The Broncos (7-5) struggle on defense, but their offense is ridiculous and they have their division essentially wrapped up. They’re not quite at “lock” status yet, but they may as well be.
The Jets (8-4) are my only other probable, based on the fact that they’re leading their division and have games against San Francisco and Seattle coming up. A divisional matchup against the Dolphins looms large in week 17.
The rest of the AFC East resides here — Patriots (7-5), Dolphins (7-5), and Bills (6-6). They’re all joined by the Colts (8-4), with everyone else in the conference basically out of contention.
My prediction two (and four) weeks ago: Titans, Steelers, Broncos, Jets, Ravens, Colts
My prediction today: yep — the same. Haven’t seen anything yet to make me change my mind.