Image Credit: (Jay Biggerstaff /USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
Last year starting Week 13 I did a weekly Playoff Picture article series detailing the current seeding of the playoffs. Well It has returned as I am doing this again. The Playoffs are getting closer and closer with each week that passes. Now there is plenty of football left to be played but again it is crunch time for some team. So until the playoffs hit I will continue to update the current playoff picture for both the AFC and NFC Conferences. For this article I will dive into the AFC conference.
Division Winners (Seed 1-4)
1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
Easily the best team in the NFL no question. I have to ask, Is it just me or has the NFL and many in the media not talked or hyped about the Chiefs. Point is, the Chiefs are the more competent and properly coached team in the AFC West and should lock up this division in a few weeks.
2. Miami Dolphins (8-3)
I guess I was wrong with Mike McDaniels being a downgrade at coach. I still support Brian Flores as that man still should have a head coaching job, but I can’t deny that I have been very impressed with how the Dolphins have been playing this year. If the organization did not fail Tua Tagovialia when he had that Concussion earlier this season, the Dolphins would probably be winless right now. Yes I know they had faced the Vikings, but still that is how talented Tua Tagovailoa is. The Defense has been performing well and all around the Dolphins have been a well built team. Lets see if they can keep this going and even lock up the AFC East.
3. Tennessee Titans (7-4)
With everything this team has gone through it impresses me that they have 7 wins. Then I realized that the Titans are in the AFC South which is the worst division this season not named the NFC South. However with the way that division is trending I would be shocked if the Titans don’t win this division.
4. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
You know with the Steelers being a bad team this season, I wonder who would win the Mike Tomlin award of playing down to competition against weaker teams and lowing big leads. Looks like the Baltimore Ravens are going to be that team this season. Just look below of the games they lost
They had large leads and they freaking blew it. Even games they won were closer than they should have been. Coaching has been a big issue with the Ravens and I am not so sure Greg Roman or John Harbaugh jobs are 100% safe this season. The Ravens better wake up and win games convincingly as if they don’t not only will they not win the AFC North, but they could even miss the playoffs with how competitive the AFC Conference is.
Wildcard Teams (Seed 5-7)
5. Buffalo Bills (8-3)
The Bills as a wildcard team should not be concerning yet as they still have 8 wins. On the bright side it looks like Von Miller did not tear his ACL which is a plus. The Bills however need to wake up as they're playing games closer than they should be. This year could be one of there last chances to finally get a Superbowl in Buffalo, NY.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
It was looking scarry earlier in the season with how the Bengals were performing, but it looks like they got their heads on track and are playing good football. They are not out of the running for winning the AFC North with Baltimore playing down to competition Mike Tomlin Style. What is impressing me is that they are winning without WR Ja’Marr Chase and RB Joe Mixon who have been out due to injuries. Let's see if they can keep it up.
7. New York Jets (7-4)
Look as a Jets fan I ask the entire league to please stop the count and end the season now. Ok jokes aside I never would have thought that the Jets would be in this spot today. Just getting 7 wins is just a blessing knowing the many years of horrendous football I saw. The Jets even culturally made a great move finally giving Mike White his dues as the starter and benching Zach Wilson who has turned into a distraction. The Jets have to keep winning due to how competitive the AFC Conference is.
In the hunt
8 New England Patriots (6-5)
The Patriots are such an overrated team, but somehow manage to win games. Probably because Bill Belichick is a freaking genius and is one of the most brilliant minds in the NFL despite his dark arts. While they are 6-5 there are still a bunch of problems surrounding this team. Mainly on offense with it being run by two hacks in Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. Plus I have tried with Mac Jones the past few years, but he has regressed so much that I am not so sure he is the guy at Quarterback. We will see how New England will do, but don’t rule out any team coached by Belichick and I learned my lesson.
9. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)
Imagine if the Chargers were not cursed with injuries and had a competent coach right now. They would probably be in the playoffs now if the season ended today. This team is super talented due to how great of a QB Justin Herbert is. I just hope the Chargers don’t waste his prime years away.
10. Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1)
Colts fired Frank Reich for Jeff Saturday and it is clear this season for the Colts is going nowhere. They just lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers who were trying to give that game to the Colts and blew it. Also it would help if Saturday would do a better job with his time management skills as holding those timeouts too long has been a mistake. I will say Saturday has been doing better than I expected though. I think long term the Colts should just tank to build the team as neither QB Matt Ryan or QB Sam Ehlinger are not the guy at QB.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7)
It feels weird that the Steelers are in this territory where it looks like Tomlin will have his first losing season this year. I will say though the Steelers really have something in Kenny Pickett as he has really impressed me this season. Imagine if he had a competent offensive coordinator helping him. Matt Canada should have been fired a long time ago, but keep in mind this is the Steelers and they don’t fire contracts. They either retire or conveniently let there contracts expire. Its one of the major reasons why the Steelers never made it to Superbowl the past few years. Speaking of which I just realized that Danny Smith is somehow still here as the special teams coordinator which I just don’t understand as the special teams has been garbage the past few years.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
Look I get they beat the Ravens, but the Jags are still a very mediocre football team. Trust me the Jags are my number 2 team and they have gotten really lucky this season. The Jags are just not ready yet to take the next step of there rebuild and might need one more offseason to really be ready to make an impact.
13. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
The Browns may have upset the buccaneers last week, but there are still a ton of issues surrounding this team. Their defense is a trainwreck and can someone explain to me why Joe Woods is still their defensive coordinator again? Their offense has problems excluding the run game. I still think it is hilarious that many believe that this team is a QB away from competing. I don’t think that is the case. At least they can help fix their defensive issues in the draft, wait nevermind their 1st round pick is Houston Texans property due to the Deshaun Watson trade.
14. Las Vegas Raiders (4-7)
I don’t care if they won the last two games, the Raiders are done. Seattle overlooked the Raiders and the Broncos are just incompetent this season. Josh McDaniels is still their head coach and coaching matters, especially in the NFL. Plus their defense has been a big disappointment and is one of the worst in the league. So yeah the Raiders are a team that should tank for a top draft pick to help build the team long term.
Somehow Not Eliminated Mathematically Eliminated
15. Denver Broncos (3-8)
If I was to describe one word regarding the Denver Broncos this season it would be dysfunctional. Especially when it comes to the way this team is coached and how the offense is being run. There is no chance the Broncos are making the playoffs this year and both the coach along with Russell Wilson are likely one and done after this season. They are such a mess right now and they are going nowhere this season.
16. Houston Texans (1-9-1)
I don’t get how the Texans still mathematically have a chance at getting into the playoffs. Spoiler alert they won’t. They have 9 losses and are not getting in and are openly punting the season. I wonder if the Texans can get a marketing deal with a Tank company with how blatant there tanking has been.