Week 15 AFC Playoff Picture
In Need Of A Festivus Miracle
Oakland Raiders (6-7) The Raiders are two games back with three to play in the AFC West and a division title is the only route to the playoffs. Oakland is 4-0 in the division and that's the saving grace for the Raiders. That unblemished division record comes in handy if there's a three-way tie for the AFC West with San Diego and Kansas City. The Raiders would win the head-to-head tiebreaker with a 4-0 record. Oakland will be at home and will face Tim Tebow in his debut as starting quarterback of the Broncos.
Miami Dolphins (7-6) Miami stayed alive after an ugly but necessary 10-6 win over the Jets. However, if the Dolphins are going to catch the Jets for a wild card spot they will need some help. Assuming it comes to the Dolphins and Jets, New York holds the common opponents tiebreaker so the Dolphins need one of three scenarios: Miami wins out and New York loses all three, Miami beats Buffalo and New England and ties New York at 9-7 (Dolphins win divisional games tiebreaker) or Miami wins out and ties New York at 10-6, however in that scenario the Jets must lose in Week 17 to Buffalo. That's why it'll take a Festivus miracle. It should also be noted that Miami loses the head-to-head tiebreaker to Baltimore.
In Need Of Help
Indianapolis Colts (7-6) The win over Tennessee back on December 9 was crucial as it breaks a four game losing skid for the Colts. It also puts Indianapolis just one game behind Jacksonville for the AFC South lead. It's a must win for the Colts to win the division as Indy has an early season loss to the Jaguars. Is there hope for a wild card if Indy loses? The Colts lose the common opponents tiebreaker to the Jets but win the common opponents tiebreaker over the Ravens. There's also the chance the Colts could end up in a three way tie that would lead to a maze of tiebreaking scenarios. The point...Indy would be wise to win today.
San Diego Chargers (8-6) With the Thursday night win over San Francisco the Chargers are within striking distance of Kansas City atop the AFC West. The Chargers need to run the table to eliminate Oakland and would need one more Kansas City loss. The Chargers would own the conference tiebreaker over Kansas City so a 10-6 tie between the two teams would give the division to San Diego.
Controlling Their Destiny
Baltimore Ravens (9-4) Baltimore's stranglehold on a wild card spot almost slipped away Monday night but the Ravens survived with a 34-28 overtime win over Houston. More importantly, it kept Baltimore within a game of division leading Pittsburgh. The Steelers own the divisional tiebreaker but if Pittsburgh loses to Cleveland in Week 17 and the Ravens & Steelers are tied the tiebreaker will be determined by strength of victory. But before Baltimore gets that far they need to beat New Orleans today.
New York Jets (9-4) Just a few weeks ago there was talk of homefield advantage for the Jets, now New York is just hoping to survive the regular season. The Jets are on the road this week and next to face Pittsburgh and Chicago however these may not be must-win games. New York may not catch New England for the East title but thanks to a 9-2 start to the season the Jets likely need just one win to head to the postseason.
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) The Jaguars have been up and down this year but thanks to two straight wins Jacksonville is up and now are one win away from clinching the division. A win at Indianapolis today gives the AFC South to the Jags but even if they lose Jacksonville ends with Washington and Houston so the opportunity is there to bounce back.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) Kansas City is clinging to a half-game lead in the West after San Diego's Thursday night win. The Chiefs end the season at St. Louis today but get Tennessee and Oakland at home. However, if Kansas City loses any of the final three games the Chiefs would lose the conference tiebreaker to San Diego.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) Pittsburgh can clinch the division with a win and a Baltimore loss. The Steelers can also clinch a playoff spot today with one of three scenarios: a win or losses to Indianapolis and San Diego or losses to Indianapolis and Kansas City.
New England Patriots (11-2) The Patriots have already clinched a playoff birth but now New England can wrap up the division. New England clinches the AFC East with a win and a Jets loss.