Denver blew a chance to nearly lock up the #1 seed in the AFC late Sunday night after Bill and Brady yanked the Patriots out of a 24-0 deficit, but neither team is the story in the AFC today. Nor is free-falling Indianapolis. The story? Six teams are tied at 5-6 for the last spot in the AFC. All six teams are immensely flawed. It feels like 8-8 will get someone into the postseason, and heck, 7-9 might do the trick. A quick rundown:
Tennessee – The current No. 6 seed based on Sunday’s win at Oakland in the final minute. Hold wins over the Steelers, Chargers and Jets, but their QB is still Ryan Fitzpatrick. Next three games? @ Indy, @ Denver, vs. Arizona. I give the Titans a puncher’s chance at the playoffs. See what I did there?
Pittsburgh – Started 0-4, weathered Big Ben trade talk. Four of final five opponents are in playoff mix, including trip to Lambeau to play Aaron Rodgers. Already beat Baltimore once, and a win on the road Thanksgiving night would greatly enhance their playoff chances.
Baltimore – Last four losses are by just 14 points. Offense still woeful, and Joe Flacco is struggling (24th in completion percentage, 25th in yards-per-attempt). Must win vs. Pittsburgh this week because they have to travel to Detroit, host the Patriots, finish season at Cincinnati.
San Diego – Salvaged season with upset in KC, have four of final five games at home. But must beat Cincinnati, Denver & KC. Rivers and the Chargers magically seem to play their best against quality opponents, which partially explains losses to Houston, Oakland and Washington.
Miami – Despite Incognito mess, their last four games were determined by four or fewer points. Play Jets twice, Steelers and Patriots. Interesting subplot here: Given the Jonathan Martin allegations, are the Dolphins playing to keep coach Joe Philbin?
New York Jets – Were in a great spot at 5-4, but have lost two straight. Lose tiebreaker to Titans, Steelers and Ravens. Can they beat Raiders, Browns? I’m not sure. Of all six teams fighting for one spot, the Jets came into the season with the least expectations, and are finally playing like it. As the season falls apart, the discussion becomes Geno Smith or Rex Ryan. Is Geno the long-term guy at QB, and is Rex Ryan going to keep his job?
And one more Geno Smith screwup because he’s been so bad the last few weeks.