Wednesday, November 24, 2010

AFC Playoff Picture: Week 11

With ten weeks in the books, the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. Who would have thought that after 10 weeks, Jacksonville and Kansas City would be division leaders? Certainly not us. Here's a look at the way the playoff outlook currently stands. Of the 16 teams in the AFC, 12 are currently within 2 games of a playoff spot (whether that be a division title or the Wild Card).

8-2 Overall, 6-1 AFC
Current AFC East Leader
Key Wins: New England
Key Losses: Baltimore
Remaining Games: Cin, @NE, Mia, @Pit, @Chi, Buf

The Jets are in great position to secure the AFC East division title and can take a big step towards doing so with a win over the Patriots on December 6th.

7-3 Overall, 6-2 AFC
Current AFC North Leader
Key Wins: NY Jets, Pittsburgh
Key Losses: New England
Remaining Games: TB, Pit, @Hou, NO, @Cle, Cin

Baltimore has 4 of their last 6 at home, including all-important showdowns with Pittsburgh and New Orleans. The game against Pittsburgh will pretty much decide the division title.

6-4 Overall, 4-4 AFC
Current AFC West Leader
Key Wins: San Diego, Jacksonville
Key Losses: Indianapolis, Houston, Oakland
Remaining Games: @Sea, Den, @SD, @StL, Ten, Oak

Call us crazy, but Kansas City has the schedule to get to 9 or 10 wins. The way things are looking right now, that would keep them competitive in the division. You have to like their chances against Seattle and St Louis, and if they can win 2 of 3 at home, you never know...

6-4 Overall, 5-3 AFC
Current AFC South Leader
Key Wins: Indianapolis, Houston
Key Losses: San Diego, Tennessee, Kansas City
Remaining Games: @NYG, @Ten, Oak, @Ind, Was, @Hou

No clue how the Jags are leading this division right now. Not sure if they have the firepower to sustain it down the stretch run. 4 of their last 6 are on the road, including 3 division games on the road.

8-2 Overall, 7-2 AFC
2nd Place AFC East, Current Wild Card Leader
Key Wins: Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Baltimore, San Diego
Key Losses: NY Jets
Remaining Games: @Det, NYJ, @Chi, GB, @Buf, Mia

At this point, it would take a near-epic collapse for the Patriots to miss the playoffs. The Jets and Packers will give them good games, but we can't see them losing more than 2 of their remaining games.

7-3 Overall, 5-2 AFC
2nd Place AFC North, Current Wild Card
Key Wins: Tennessee, Oakland
Key Losses: Baltimore, New England
Remaining Games: @Buf, @Bal, Cin, NYJ, Car, @Cle

With 4 games remaining against teams with 3 or less wins, the Steelers have to capitalize on the opportunity the schedule has given them. Assuming they beat the teams they should, there's no reason we shouldn't make the playoffs.

6-4 Overall, 4-3 AFC
2nd Place AFC South
Key Wins: Kansas City
Key Losses: Jacksonville, New England
Remaining Games: SD, Dal, @Ten, Jax, @Oak, Ten

They have already split with Houston, and with 3 division games left, you have to like their chances to make a comeback and win the South division. Any team with Peyton Manning, regardless of who he is throwing to, always has a chance. 5 of their 6 remaining games are against teams in the AFC Playoff race.

5-5 Overall, 3-3 AFC
2nd Place AFC West
Key Wins: San Diego, Kansas City
Key Losses: Houston, Tennessee, Pittsburgh
Remaining Games: Mia, @SD, @Jax, Den, Ind, @KC

Shockingly, the Raiders are 3-0 in the AFC West. They are in a dead heat with Miami and San Diego right now, so their next two weeks will likely determine the fate of their season.

5-5 Overall, 4-3 AFC
3rd Place AFC West
Key Wins: Jacksonville, Tennessee, Houston
Key Losses: Kansas City, Oakland, New England
Remaining Games: @Ind, Oak, KC, SF, @Cin, @Den

If you're a Chargers fan, you have to be licking your chops looking at the remaining schedule. Sitting only one game out of first place in the division with 3 division games remaining, you've gotta believe this team is going to win at least 5 of their last 6. Oh yeah, Vincent Jackson comes back this week too.

5-5 Overall, 3-4 AFC
3rd Place AFC East
Key Wins: Tennessee
Key Losses: NY Jets, New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore
Remaining Games: @Oak, Cle, @NYJ, Buf, Det, @NE

Objectively, the Dolphins look like they have a fairly easy schedule moving forward. However, given that they're on their 3rd quarterback and the running game really hasn't produced this year, Dolphins fans are probably more worried than they would usually be looking at the schedule ahead. Unless they find a way to run the ball, they might not win more than 2 of their last 6.

5-5 Overall, 2-4 AFC
3rd Place AFC South
Key Wins: Oakland, Jacksonville
Key Losses: Pittsburgh, San Diego, Miami
Remaining Games: @Hou, Jax, Ind, Hou, @KC, @Ind

Tennessee has lost 3 in a row and seem to be a team on the decline. Getting Randy Moss was a desperate move for a team that had their most successful year when their offense was built on running the ball. Their defense is still solid,  but unless Kerry Collins gets healthy soon, this team is going to be in trouble. That said, with 4 of their last 6 against divisional opponents, they are not out of the race by a long shot.

4-6 Overall, 3-4 AFC
4th Place AFC South
Key Wins: Oakland, Kansas City
Key Losses: San Diego, Jacksonville, NY Jets
Remaining Games: Ten, @Phi, Bal, @Ten, @Den, Jax

If Houston wants to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history, they are going to have to hit the breaks on their current 4-game losing skid. Their pass defense has gone from "bad" at the beginning of the season to "swiss cheese" in the last few weeks. If they turn things around, they could make a run given their 3 remaining Divisional games and 4 games against teams in the playoff race.

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