Ranking AFC teams in battle for wild card slots: Bills, Bengals go ahead of the pack; Chargers, Browns stumble
With 12 teams still holding .500 or more in the 12 weeks of the season, the AFC continues to be the most unpredictable tournament in years. NS Los Angeles charger, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Denver Broncos were both placed in the last place of the playoffs (with the Chargers holding the tiebreaker) – and in the same division! The Baltimore Raven is the new top seed in the convention, but has only played two games in the final playoff spot.
Regardless of what happens in the AFC, the wild card playoff race looks set to get underway at the final weekend of the regular season. With 13 teams on the roster for seven places, every match in the AFC matters – especially with all three races closely split.
Soon the teams will start eliminating each other in these split battles. Let’s take a look at the top contenders for the three wildcard positions in the conference.
Current leaders of AFC
The AFC division leader for the first 12 weeks. All are now locked into a playoff spot if they win the division crown.
Ranking of AFC wildcard candidates
Here is the standings of the teams competing for a wild card spot in the AFC. Only three teams can make it to the knockout stages, so the top three clearly have the best chance of making it through the season after the first 12 weeks of the year.
Remaining schedule: compared with patriots, at Sugarcane seller, compare to Panthers, at the Patriots, vs. Eagle, compared to the Jet
The Bills are in control of their own destiny in the AFC East, facing the Patriots twice in a span of four weeks is certain to determine the winner of the division. A Patriots and Bills sweep is essentially a lock for the division’s crown, but the AFC East appears to have two teams as a padlock for the knockout stages. Thursday’s win over the Saints is crucial for the Bills in picking up momentum for the extended period. Won 2-1 against the Patriots and Sugarcane seller would be huge for Buffalo’s playoff fate (Buffalo is still playing just one unearned home game in the AFC).
Remaining schedule: vs. charger, vs 49ers, in Broncos, versus Ravens, versus Chiefs, at Browns
Huge win for the Bengals, who blew the Steelers away and became Raven’s biggest threat in the AFC North. The Bengals are a wild card at the moment, but they have looked like a division champion multiple times this season. An intense schedule awaits Cincinnati as every team the Bengals play against for the rest of the year has a record of .500 or higher. The Bengals have offensive and defensive capabilities in the top 10 to deal with the challenge, but a 3-3 win in their last six games was enough to send them into the post-season.
Remaining schedule: at Texans, Bye Week, vs. Patriots, at Quantity, versus Raiders, at Jaguars
Falling into the defense Super Bowl The champions weren’t ideal, especially since the Colts had a commanding lead in that game at one point. Their hopes of reaching the knockout stages were not dashed (even if they had a chance to win the championship). The Colts have a tough fight with the Patriots and Quantity, but a 1-1 scoreline would be huge for their playoff chances. Indianapolis is 10th in the standings, but only a short distance away from the final playoff spot with the Texans and Jaguars on the half-match schedule. Colts are still in good condition.
4. Charger (6-5)
Remaining schedule: in the Bengals, vs. Giant, versus Chiefs, at Texans, versus Broncos, at Raiders
The Chargers may be the 7th seed in the AFC, but the defeat to the Broncos didn’t give them a chance after the season. A win would put Los Angeles up to first place in the AFC West and in excellent form to advance to the knockout stages. Instead, they have a confrontation with Bengal coming up, which may eventually determine one of the wilds’ positions. Los Angeles still has Justin Herbert in midfield, a huge advantage in the coming weeks – even if he struggles. Having giants and Texans on the schedule also helps.
Remaining schedule: Bye Week, vs. Ravens, vs. Raiders, in Packers, in Steelsmith, compared to Bengals
The loss to Raven left the Browns hurt in the AFC North, but Cleveland is still half a game away from the final playoff spot in the conference – despite sitting 12th in the standings. Their playoff prospects aren’t terrible even with the inconsistency in offensive behavior stymieing a resurgent defense. The Browns will have to go 2-1 against AFC North to keep an impressive distance from the postseason. If Cleveland can finish well and get 10 wins…
6. Raiders (6-5)
Remaining schedule: versus Washington, at the Chiefs, at the Browns, versus the Broncos, at the Colts, versus the Chargers
Annoyed because Cowboys on Thanksgiving changed the Raiders playoff outlook. Vegas is the 8th seed in the tournament, losing a tiebreaker against Los Angeles earlier in the year. The Raiders will have to weather a lot of adversity for the rest of the year, but have handled the challenge of an interim coach and the Henry Ruggs breakdown well. Unfortunately for Vegas, the schedule hasn’t been easy for the rest of the season.
Remaining schedule: at the Chiefs, vs. Lion, vs. Bengals, at Raiders, at Chargers, vs. Chiefs
The addition of chargers is huge for Denver, which has one of the top protection companies on the conference. Despite the inconsistent play of the four defenders, the Broncos still have outstanding distance for a playoff spot thanks to a solid defense and aggressive attack. The Broncos have a rough road to the knockout stages in a crowded conference with better teams. They will be in every game, but the margin of error is slim – especially with two games against the Captain in their last six.
Remaining schedule: compare to Giant, Bye Week, vs. Jets, at Saints, at Titans, vs. Patriots
The Dolphins still have the longest range of shots to reach the knockout stages, but have won four in a row and are one of the hottest teams in the AFC. Their schedule is very favorable with the upcoming Giants and Jets, followed by the struggling Saints team. Miami could hit seventh in a row and hit a record more than 500 if they care about the business. More struggling Tennessee and Miami’s success against New England – the Dolphins have a shot. Anyway, Miami is 1.5 games behind the final playoff spot. They are not done yet.
9. Steelworker (5-5-1)
Remaining schedule: versus Raven, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Chiefs, vs. Browns, at Ravens
That relationship may have been the Steelers’ best friend in Week 18, but the team looks like it’s on the verge of falling apart. It’s hard to count any teams coached by Mike Tomlin, but the Steelers have an old roster with a quarterback that will likely spend his final year with the only professional franchise he’s ever played in. The Steelers don’t have a single game left on their schedule against a team under .500 in their convention. Their chances of coming after the season in a crowded conference are not good.
Not good enough
None of these teams are good enough to make it to the knockout stages, but they’re not technically out of a frenetic AFC either:
https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/ranking-afc-teams-in-fight-for-wild-card-spots-bills-bengals-ahead-of-pack-chargers-browns-stumble/ Ranking AFC teams in battle for wild card slots: Bills, Bengals go ahead of the pack; Chargers, Browns stumble