Once again I will take a look at the playoff scenarios and how everything could shape up by season’s end. I will focus on the other half of the NFL, the AFC.
In the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts are finding themselves in not as comfortable a place as they were in last season. Andrew Luck is in his third season as the Colts’ quarterback and has become the franchise guy for the Indianapolis-based team.
JJ Watt of the Houston Texans, however, has had something different to say this season. The defensive end has shown why he is a legitimate candidate for the NFL MVP award this year, scoring more touchdowns than some of the top tier offensive weapons this season. He has his Texans at 7-6, just two games behind the Colts.
The Colts and Texans face-off next week and if the Texans can get the win, I can see them pulling away with the division in the closing weeks.
In the AFC West, the sure-fire hall of famer, Peyton Manning has his Denver Broncos sitting atop the NFL with a league-best 10-3 record. The San Diego Chargers are always a tough out and as I type this, the Chargers (8-4) lead the New England Patriots 14-13. The Chargers have had great showings over the last few weeks and if that continues, they could pull off a surprising division championship.
What can I say about the AFC East other than: the Patriots own this division. Granted, they are only two games ahead of both the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills at 9-3, but they have been on a tear as of late, but a loss to the Chargers tonight could send them into a downward spiral that they want no part of.
I say the Pats lose tonight, but they aren’t losing to Miami twice in the same season. They finish off the season 11-5 and win the division….AGAIN.
And last, but not least, we have without a doubt the best division in the NFL this season. The AFC North. Every team in the division has at least 7 wins and the leading team, the Cincinnati Bengals, are only separated by 1 and 1/2 games from the bottom team, the Cleveland Browns. It would be hard for me to even pick a winner from this division, but they are some key games down the stretch.
The Bengals play at Cleveland next Sunday, which has proved to be a tough place to play this season with the Browns playing 7 games this season and losing 3. Those three losses have been by an average of 6.2 points.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have arguably the easiest remaining schedule as they go to Atlanta and then return home to play the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bengals.
Their bitter rival, the Baltimore Ravens have just as an easy a schedule as they host the Jaguars, travel to Houston, and then host the Browns to finish the year. It is going to be an interesting finish to the season and I am sad to say that more than one of these teams will be left out of the playoffs in January.
FINAL PLAYOFF STANDINGS:
1. Denver (12-4)
2. Cincinnati (11-4-1)
3. New England (11-5)
4. Indianapolis (11-5)
1. Pittsburgh (10-6)
2. San Diego (10-6)
Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis
San Diego @ New England