While contemplating the AFC playoff field during Thursday’s PFT Live, a crazy thought that may not be all that crazy occurred to me: What if the presumed AFC Championship showdown between the Steelers and Patriots were disrupted not by one team losing in the divisional round but by both losing in the conference semifinals?
Indulge me for a moment here. (Or don’t; it’s not going to stop me.) Let’s assume the following AFC playoff seeding: 1. Patriots; 2. Steelers; 3. Titans/Jaguars; 4. Chargers; 5. Jaguars/Titans; 6. Ravens.
In the wild-card round, the Ravens would need to win on the road against the AFC South champion, and the Chargers would have to win at home against the AFC South wild-card qualifier. Then, the sixth-seeded Ravens would go to New England, where the Ravens always play better than expected — and have won multiple times in the playoffs. The Chargers would go to Pittsburgh, to face a Steelers team that is playing like it has one eye on the Patriots.
So if the Ravens beat the Patriots and the Chargers beat the Steelers, the AFC Championship would be played in a stadium smaller than the places where every major college program in America plays its home games. It’s a fascinating possibility, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the game would be moved to the L.A. Coliseum (unless, of course, the Rams end up hosting the NFC Championship game).
However it plays out, crazier things have happened than what would be an unlikely but hardly crazy outcome to the AFC playoff tree.