Cincinnati and Oakland’s losses yesterday created a five-way tie for the final playoff spot, with every team sitting at 7-5 and Cincinnati still holding the tiebreaker. Here’s a look at the games left and how I think the teams will fare.
Cincinnati: Houston, at St. Louis, Arizona, Baltimore
Thoughts/Prediction: 10-6; Having three of the final four games at home is a huge advantage, but with Cincinnati’s subpar attendance, it’s not the same as other teams. I’m rather damaged as a long-suffering fan and because of that, along with the injuries that are piling up, I think this team will somehow lose one more. I hope I’m wrong.
Jets: Kansas City, at Philadelphia, Giants, at Miami
Thoughts/Prediction: 10-6; The Jets have hit a groove right now, even with the erratic play of their quarterback, Mark Sanchez. But, they’ve done this before and with a strong defense, Decemember could be kind to the Jets. There are a few trap games here, with the Eagles and Giants presenting challenges, but Miami and Kansas City are rather winnable games. The Jets could go undefeated and squeeze Cincinnati out of a spot, but I think they’ll lose one.
Denver: Chicago, New England, at Buffalo, Kansas City
Thoughts/Prediction: 10-6; If New England can’t stop Tebowmania, I’m not sure anyone can. The Chicago game looks a lot easier now that Matt Forte is out for a few weeks. The Broncos have three of four at home and also seem to be on track to push Oakland out of first in the AFC West. I think the Patriots will corrall Tebow, but that’s it.
Oakland: at Green Bay, Detroit, at Kansas City, San Diego
Thoughts/Predictions: 9-7; You would certainly think next week’s game in Green Bay is a loss for the Raiders and Detroit should be a challenging one as well. I think there’s potential for two losses here and that bodes well for the Bengals. Any losses by Oakland will bring a better draft pick thanks to the Carson Palmer trade.
Tennessee: New Orleans, at Indy, Jacksonville, Houston
Thoughts/Prediction: 10-6; The Saints should handle the Titans, but that game might be closer than some people think. The remainder of the schedule sets up rather favorably though with two struggling teams and Houston, who may have already clinched some sort of home-field advantage.
There you have it, pretty much the same as last week with a trio of 10-6 teams (Denver clinches the AFC West), that will require a tiebreaker to determine the playoff bid. The Bengals may have the best chance among all the teams to go undefeated with three games at home and none of them incredibly imposing. Still, after the clunker in Pittsburgh, it’s hard to have too much faith in Cincinnati just yet.
Next week’s game should be a good indication of how things might end up.
To quote the illustrious Bart Scott, “Can’t Wait!”