Posted by: Michael Renusz | December 13, 2010

NFL recap: AFC playoff races heat up


Maurice Jones-Drew has the Jaguars leading the division

Hello all. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve wrote my favourite column, mainly due to school taking over my life. I’m still fairly busy until the end of the week, but the thought of writing about NFL playoff races makes me excited. Instead of recapping the games like I usually do, we’ll take a look at each division and how yesterdays and future games will impact the playoff races. Right now, we’ll focus on the AFC.

We’ll start in the AFC East, where the Patriots have locked up a playoff birth, and are on the path to winning home field advantage in the entire conference. The Pats have gotten better every week since they were owned by the Browns a few weeks back and are probably Super Bowl favourites right now. Things haven’t been pretty in New York, though, as the Jets have gone from division favourites to fighting for a wild card spotr in the span of two weeks. The Jets were awful against Miami yesterday, losing 10-6, and have a tough road ahead the next two weeks with games in Pittsburgh and Chicago, before wrapping it up at home against a now competetitive Bills team. The Jets should be aiming for at least two wins here, but one might be enough. At 7-6, the Dolphins are still alive in the wildcard, but it’s not likely.

In the AFC South, Jacksonville has the surprising lead over Indianapolis, despite the fact the Jags have a -36 point differential. Both teams won this week, with Indy holding off Tennessee and the Jags taking care of business against Oakland. The biggest game for these two is undoubtedly this upcoming week, where they will face each other in Indy. If the Jags win, they’ll clinch the division. If the Colts win, they’ll be tied with Jacksonville and will have the hypothetical tiebreaker should both teams be tied at seasons end. Houston is still alive, but that will probably end in tonight’s Monday night game.

Looking at the AFC West, the Chargers trounced the Chiefs 31-0 yesterday, but the Chiefs are still in the driver’s seat with a one game leader over San Diego. The Chargers have a fairly easy schedule remaining, with games against San Francisco, Cincinatti and Denver remaining, while the Chiefs have it a little more difficult with games against St. Louis, Tennessee and Oakland. The Chargers will need to win out and hope for one loss for the Chiefs to take the tiebreaker from the Chiefs, who are 5-5 since their 3-0 start. However, the Chiefs have been terrific at home, where they are undefeated, so the Chargers best hope might come this weekend when K.C. travels to St. Louis who are similarly fighting for a playoff spot. The Chiefs are also hoping that Matt Cassel will be ready to play under center after a poor performance by Brodie Croyle yesterday. With a loss yesterday against Jacksonville, Oakland severley damaged their playoff chances, as they fell to 6-7. The Raiders have improved greatly this year, but have done some very Raider-like things, such as go 4-0 in the division and 2-7 everywhere else.

And lastly, in the AFC North, the Steelers should be able to lock this one up, and will probably end up with a first round bye. The Ravens situation is a bit more unclear since they still have to play tonight, but they are the frontrunners for a wild card spot. A win tonight will put them at 9-4 and with games left against Cincinatti and Cleveland, they should be looking at least 11 wins.

That’s it for now, but check back later for a detailed look at the NFC races.

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