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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.

Locks
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.

Probables
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…

Bubble
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.

10 comments to The AFC Playoff Picture: Week 15-16

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    i’ll get into this more a bit later (specific teams) but this is something that’s been on my mind for a while.

    why doesn’t anyone ever talk about inferior teams in the nfl with inferior records making the playoffs while other more deserving teams stay home? this year might be the worst. we could see TWO teams in the nfl at 10-6 (the ravens being one) miss out to (possibly) two 8-8 teams.

    sometimes it even rewards teams that got dominated by the non-playoff team in the regular season which is crazy.

    we’ll see how it plays out but it pisses me off that there is always so much bcs discussion but this is never addressed.

  • Greg

    I feel that Ravens are very likely to blow their chances. The Jets need to stay in the lead, and the Patriots and Phins need to lose a game. I don’t see us beating the Cowboys.

  • random dude

    “The Jets need to stay in the lead” I don’t get that part.

    The way I see it, and correct me if I’m wrong, is we really just need NE to lose one game and we’re fine. If we lose to Dal, and beat Jax, we’ll have 10 wins and be 8-4 in the conference. We have a tie-breaker over NE if they have 10 wins. We have a tie-breaker over Mia due to head to head. If the Jets end up with 10 wins, they most likely will lose to Mia, so they’d have a worse conference record.

    I guess if NE wins out 11 wins. The Jets lose this week, then beat Miami, they’d have the same conference record as us. Then onto common games (min. 4) Ravens: vs Cin W vs Ten L @ Mia W vs. Oak W @ Cin W: 4-1. Jets: @Mia W vs Cin W @ Oak L @ Ten W vs Mia @: 4-1. Then onto strength of victory. Anyone know what this entails? If that’s somehow tied, it goes to strength of schedule, which we won.

    Is that why said the Jets have to stay in the lead?

    I just confused myself even more.

  • random dude

    Lets just beat Dallas on Saturday and not worry about it.

  • Ryan

    Neal: I’m not convinced that the Broncos beat Buffalo and San Diego.

    Denver in December usually provides an even bigger home field advantage for the Broncos than usual — altitude — , due to weather but Buffalo is clearly used to nasty weather. They have a solid running back, and Denver has a paltry run defense — make that a paltry defense in general.

    UNLESS SD loses this weekend at Tampa — and I think it’s entirely possible that SD wins — I think they win the AFC West. They’ll have the better conference record if they beat Denver. As much as I hate Rivers, he pulled that KC win out of his ass, and could do it again with the Bucs. If they lose to TB, I think Denver could close it out.

    I REALLY don’t want it to come down to the last game, but I think it’s possible. Probable, even.

  • Chris

    Neal: I want to shoot myself in the face.

  • dan the man

    Random thought: can we please not have Figurs return anymore punts?

  • Greg

    The Jets’ conference record is the same as the Ravens (7-4). If they take the division, then the Ravens would have a better shot beating the Pat’s conference record (6-5) if the tiebreaker came down to it.

  • Joe the Guy

    is it too simplistic to say that the Ravens are all set if they beat the Cowboys on Saturday?

    I’m assuming N.E. wins vs. Arizona & at Buffalo.

    Therefore, Ravens win out and they are In…

    Or they lose to the Cowboys and are Out…

    right?