Almost everyone remains alive in AFC race

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.

30 responses to “Almost everyone remains alive in AFC race

  1. AFC West is still open for every team.

    Denver technically could, albeit unlikely, run the table and win the AFC West.

    Oakland has the fewest divisional games remaining (three) and with wins in each of those should win the AFC West.

  2. It’s been so long since the Raiders have been mentioned with the upper-tiered teams. It’s good to see them finally breaking with the past 7 years of atrociousness and being competitive again. Go Raiders!!

  3. “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.”

    I actually tend to think it’s the opposite. This season should be in the dictionary next to parity. I don’t think this logjam is necessarily because there are so many great teams in the AFC, but rather there aren’t ANY and so you just have a bunch of pretty good ones fighting for the top. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it played out like 2002 — when Oakland got homefield advantage with an 11-5 record. At the very least, I’m willing to bet you 11-5 at least gets you a bye. I think the only two teams right now who can get to 12-4 are the Jets and Pats, and they’re obviously in the same division. You really think the Colts, Steelers or Ravens only lose one more game the rest of the year?

  4. Raiders are gona run away with the west florio…
    Starting next week when they destroy FLORIOS steelers

  5. Agree with sj39; you can only count out Dallas, Minnesota, Detroit, Carolina, and maybe Washington. Same 4/5 out as in AFC, and the division champs are no more predictable either

  6. At 3-6, it’s easy to say that the Browns are virtually out of it. But, they’ve just finished the hardest part of their schedule and the remainder looks VERY winnable. Jacksonville, Carolina, Buffalo and Cincinnati look the easiest, but the Dolphins game is also very winnable.

    With their punishing running game and the superb play of rookie QB Colt McCoy, the Browns very easily could run a 5-game streak before closing the season AT HOME against a suspect Baltimore defense and a very banged up Steelers team. Those are all AFC games for the Browns (except for the Carolina game) and, although unlikely, if they run the table through Week 17, they would post an AFC record of 8-4.

    Florio said in his power rankings today – this team can play with ANYONE. Sooner or later, everyone else is going to realize it.

  7. “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.)”

    Did they change all the divisions around last hight?

  8. Yeah, I don’t see Denver going to the playoffs, but it’s just stupid to declare a team out of it trailing the division by only 2 games with four divisional matchups remaining.

  9. This is why Sunday’s Colts-Patriots tilt is so critical. If the Patriots win, they will have beaten the Ravens, Steelers, Chargers and Colts. All potential division winners. Critical for tie breaking between potential division winners.

    That being said, they still have to beat the Jets or it’s a wild card for them. And no one wants to go on the road during the Wild Card round.

  10. Actually, it wouldn’t be that tough for an AFC West team to win a wild card… Considering the Raiders could potentially lose the division the expected to be resurgent Chargers, however, they are one game back of the Steelers, with a pretty decent chance to beat them this weekend. Right now the only 2 teams in the NFL riding a 3 game win streak are Atlanta, and Oakland. Right now, the only 2 teams in the NFL that are undefeated in divisional play are the Jets and Oakland. Whether people have been paying attention or not, Oakland has a team that is good enough to play with anybody on any given Sunday.

  11. 8man says:
    Nov 16, 2010 4:31 PM
    This is why Sunday’s Colts-Patriots tilt is so critical. If the Patriots win, they will have beaten the Ravens, Steelers, Chargers and Colts. All potential division winners. Critical for tie breaking between potential division winners.

    That being said, they still have to beat the Jets or it’s a wild card for them. And no one wants to go on the road during the Wild Card round.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………

    I would usually agree with you on that no one wants to go on the road for wild-card round ,but hell unless the Jets start playing better at home , I’d rather be playing on the road 8 wins in row counnting back to last year …

  12. “The Chiefs and Raiders only trail the Ravens/Steelers by one game.”

    …and it doesn’t matter because if you think the chargers aren’t going to win the west, you’re crazy. the chiefs have already started their downfall…they are this year’s broncos. the raiders won’t beat the chargers a 2nd time, and san diego will win the division again.

    the only team i think has a chance to get 12 wins (in the AFC, at least) is New England.

  13. Nice Bert Bell reference and to take it farther, no team is undefeated, and no team is without a win. Not the perfect curve league wise but as close to parody as a league can come.

  14. #
    blackbartii says: Nov 16, 2010 3:15 PM

    Jets will fall apart.
    That’s not crystal ball you have there fella, that’s your tiny little testicles.

  15. gotta give props right now to Phillip Rivers, as he is by far the best QB this year, and will be leagues MVP, but O’Canada Joe is spot on Raiders are in the drivers seat with AFC West…3 -0 in division…all they need to do is win at home, and get one more on the road (hopefully our home game in San Diego).

    It would be great for old time sakes if it came down to the last game of the season at arrowhead for the afc west. It looks like 9-7 wins the west.

  16. “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.”

    That’s assuming Tyler Thigpen won’t have success, which I think is a pretty rash assumption.

  17. i think its clear that the wildcard spots will be filled by the second place finishers in the afc east and north. the jets, patriots, steelers, and ravens will be in the playoffs this year, they’re the four best teams in the NFL.

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