I wrote last night that Philly’s win created some real separation between the haves and the have nots in the NFC.
Week Ten’s results created the opposite effect in the AFC. It was a good week for the middle of the pack for a few reasons.
1. Baltimore’s loss to Atlanta and the Pittsburgh-New England game left only two teams with 7-2 records.
2. Tennessee’s loss to Miami further bunched things up. For other contenders, the result was perfect. Miami won, but essentially lost because of their quarterback injuries.
3. Most importantly, the Chiefs’ loss to the Broncos made the AFC West a true three team race. Second place in the AFC West could get a wild card spot, even though it will be tough. The Chiefs and Raiders only trail the Ravens/Steelers by one game.
The NFC is going to have a lot of big games down the stretch, but the AFC remains far more wide open and unpredictable because of its depth. Only four teams have a nearly impossible path to the playoffs (Bills, Browns, Bengals, Broncos. Bad year for B’s.) We think the Texans are dead, but they have five games left to knock down AFC contenders and prove us wrong.
We still have countless big division battles to look forward to (Titans-Colts twice, Ravens-Steelers, Patriots-Jets, and the AFC West round robin.) We also have heaps of division games between contenders (Raiders-Steelers, Colts-Patriots, Dolphins-Raiders, Titans- Chiefs, and Steelers-Jets among them.)
Add it all up and it’s easy to envision a scenario where only one or possibly no teams get to 12 wins. Yet it will surely take 10 or 11 wins to get a Wild Card spot.
Bert Bell would be so proud.