The AFC Playoff Picture: Week 15-16
From what I’ve been able to gather — please correct me if I’m wrong — the Ravens control their future. If they win out (at Dallas this week and then the Jaguars at home) they will make the playoffs, regardless of what anyone else in the AFC does. Not a bad place to be, despite the tough loss last week.
The run-up to Dallas seems like a fine time to unleash the latest edition of my AFC playoff analysis. For those not in the know, here’s a link to the last installment. I’ve been doing this since Week 9-10, and all of the analysis in this post builds on what I’ve said in the past. I break it down by three categories: Locks, Probables, and Bubble.
The Titans have been here since I started, and now they’ve finally got company in the hated (by some) Steelers. These teams are 1-2 no matter what else happens. Luckily enough for football fans everywhere, they happen to be playing each other this week (in Tennessee). The #1 seed won’t be completely decided there, but the winning team has a huge edge.
I had four teams here last time: the aforementioned Steelers and Ravens, coupled with the Broncos and Jets. Things have become quite a bit more complicated since then.
I still can’t imagine the Broncos losing their division, so they maintain “probable” status. Likewise, the Ravens seem strong enough to either (a) win out or (b) get in at 10-6. I’ll keep them at “probable” for now.
No choice but to move the Colts here as well, by virtue of their run to 10-4. They’re at the Jaguars this week and they’re in if they win. I think they will, and I also think they’ll beat the Titans in Week 17.
Which leads us to…
I had the Patriots, Bills, Dolphins, and Colts in this category. This time, the Colts have moved out, the Jets have moved in, and the Bills, alas, have fallen completely off the map.
You might think the Chargers have put themselves back in the mix, but no. They still have the Bucs and Broncos, and there’s no way they win both and overtake the Broncos. The Texans could theoretically get in at 9-7. To do that they’d have to beat both Oakland and Chicago, and get a lot of help. Not happening.
It comes down to the AFC East and those three teams tied at 9-5. Here are their remaining schedules:
Jets: @Seattle, Miami
Dolphins: @KC, @Jets
Patriots: Arizona, @Buffalo
This is probably way too close to call, but I’m sticking to my guns.
Previous playoff prediction: Titans, Steelers, Broncos, Jets, Ravens, Colts
Current playoff prediction: stays the same as it’s been since week 9-10. These are the strongest five teams, and I think the Jets have the edge in the East. I’ll admit that there may be some tiebreakers that I haven’t considered, but I think this is how it ends up.