After the Ravens’ heartbreaking loss last night, the AFC playoff fog is just as thick as it’s been throughout the season. As we’re waiting on the result from the pivotal Patriots-Jets matchup tonight, we’ll take a modest look at how the AFC playoff picture is turning out in the dark room that is the NFL stretch run.
Bad analogies never get old.
Let’s take a look at all the teams in the hunt right now:
- New York Jets (9-2)
- New England Patriots (9-2)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
- Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)
- Oakland Raiders (6-6)
- San Diego Chargers (6-6)
- Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
- Miami Dolphins (6-6)
There are four 5-7 teams at this time, but I’d consider them out of the race unless they can put a few wins together, especially considering they’d need to win out to be in any position of a Wild Card bid.
If the season ended today, before the completion of the Jets-Pats game, this is what the playoffs would look like, with the numbers before the team name representing seed.
- New York Jets (AFC East)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North)
- Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South)
- New England Patriots (Wild Card)
- Baltimore Ravens (Wild Card)
The Ravens are currently two games clear of the Raiders for a Wild Card spot, which is the good news, but they also play very tough games in Houston and Cleveland and home against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Not to forget, the Bengals are coming to town on the last day of the regular season, which is always a tough game. If the Ravens do manage to have the same record as the Raiders, Chargers or Colts, they have the upper hand because of their stellar 6-3 record against AFC opponents.
Basically, the magic number of wins is 10. If the Patriots or Jets win tonight, they are all but assured a playoff spot. If the Ravens can win two of their final four games, any one of those 6-6 teams would have to win out. The team with the most realistic chance would be the Chargers, because they don’t play any of the other 6-6 teams. The Raiders and Colts face off in Week 16, and with the Dolphins playing both the Jets an Patriots, and already having a head-to-head loss against the Ravens, their chances of playoff glory look very slim.