Now is the time when we can really start to zoom in on the NFL playoff push, as every team in the league has enjoyed their bye week. For the next seven weeks, most teams will be fighting for a playoff berth, while the rest will be playing for next year. Here’s a quick gander at how each AFC division looks like as we hit the home stretch. Check out the NFC races here.
AFC East: Jets (7-2), Patriots (7-2), Miami (5-5), Buffalo (1-8).
Rex Ryan and the Jets haven’t disappointed since stealing everyone’s hearts on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks.’ They beat New England earlier in the year to give them a tiebreaker edge, and the two will square off again on Monday Night football December 6th in Foxborough. Miami appeared to be a darkhorse wild card team until their QB depth chart started to resemble a MASH unit. Look for Tom Brady and the Pats to end in a photo finish with NY, with Buffalo continuing to occupy their spot as league gutter slut.
AFC North: Ravens (6-3), Steelers (6-3), Browns (3-6), Bengals (2-7)
The North looks like another two-horse race, with the Ravens hosting Pittsburgh in a few weeks. Baltimore won the first meeting, but that was when Big Ben was still in the principal’s office with Roger Goodell. Cleveland appears much improved, but is too far out now to be printing playoff tickets. Cincy has once again racked up an impressive amount of close losses. Much like the AFC East, the division runner-up will most likely be in good shape at a possible wild card berth.
AFC South: Colts (6-3), Titans (5-4), Jaguars (5-4), Texans (4-5)
Perhaps the league’s best division from top-to-bottom, the South still has everyone within a few games, but who wants to bet against ‘The Brain,’ even if he is playing with receivers who may or may not have played college football. Tennessee appears to be the most talented competitor, and plays five of their last six versus divisional opponents. Jack Del Rio has done an admirable job rallying the Jags this season, but for some reason it still seems like he’s on the way out. Houston is starting to look like a perennial .500 team, which is at least better than the divisional doormat they were during their first five years of existence.
AFC West: Raiders (5-4), Chiefs (5-4), Chargers (4-5), Broncos (3-6)
In the topsy-turvy West, the only thing that seems certain is only one team will advance to the playoffs. Despite San Diego having little running game and atrocious special teams, most pundits still like them to come out of the division. I guess the Chiefs and Raiders recent track record of futility is scaring everyone off. Denver appears to be perhaps the biggest enigma of the group, blowing out Kansas City one week after getting worked over by Oakland. It’s worth noting that the Raiders are 3-0 in the division.
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