Here is a look at the AFC playoff scenario after NFL Week # 14 with three games remaining in the 2005-06 campaign:
Wow, things couldn�t have gone much better for the Steelers on Sunday. Miami held on to beat the Chargers. Dallas put together a late drive to beat the Chiefs. The only thing that could have gone better was Baltimore over Denver, although thanks to Billick�s and Boller�s ineptitude, this game went the way of the Broncos. And of course, the Bengals, with the help of a late drive (and the refs), kick the FG to beat the Browns. This weekend helped to clear up the playoff picture a little bit�Here is where things stand:
Indianapolis: The Colts clinched the #1 seed, and HF advantage throughout the playoffs with their win. All that�s left for them is to figure out whether to rest players, of go balls out for the 16-0 record. In either case, Dungy will be second guessed, whether missing the perfect record, or losing a player to injury going for it. Either way, the road to Detroit in the AFC goes through Indy.
Denver and Cincinnati: Denver currently holds the tiebreaker over Cincinnati for the #2 spot based on Conference Record (Denver 7-2, Cinci 7-3)�Assuming both win out, Denver will retain the #2 spot, leaving Cinci in the #3. Denver�s schedule is pretty easy leading into their Week 17 match up with the Chargers, same with Cincy leading up to their Week 17 bout with the Chiefs. It�s pretty safe bet that both of these teams will be playing for the #2 spot in the final week of the season�Unless Cincy loses to the Lions next week and then win out and Denver loses one of it�s last 3, the tiebreaker will remain overall conference record. If the former scenario holds out, the next tiebreaker is common opponents, but until that possibility solidly exists, I won�t go into more detail�Long story short, Denver holds their own destiny in their hands�win out, and get #2, leaving the Bengals in #3.
New England: New England could have locked up the AFC East title yesterday, but Miami�s win over San Diego still kept the Fins in the hunt�Needless to say, Miami would have to win out, and the Pats would have to lose out for the east to go to the Fins�a highly unlikely scenario�So, let�s assume the Pats have the East locked up. At the same time, they are sitting in the #4 spot. The only way they move out of this spot is to win out and have either Denver or Cincy lose out�Safe to say, the Pats won the east and will be the #4 team in the AFC.
Jacksonville: After handing Indy win #3, the Jags remaining schedule is laughable�3 teams with a combined 7 wins. It will be hard for Jacksonville to lose any of their remaining games, but, as they say, any given Sunday. A loss by Jacksonville would be very interesting, creating a possibility for a 3-way tie, or even possibly, a 4-way tie for the 2 wildcard spots. There are so many scenarios that play out there, that until it happens, I won�t touch it.
Pittsburgh, San Diego, Kansas City: So, because our friends in the AFC West lost yesterday, we catapulted from #8 back into #6. In case you wondered how this works, and ties are first broken in the division. Since the Chargers beat the Chiefs earlier in the year, they are ahead of KC in the #7 spot. Then it is us vs. San Diego. By virtue of our MNF victory over the Bolts, we have the head to head tie breaker, thus giving us the last wildcard spot. Contrary to popular belief, we do not hold our destiny in our hands. Assuming we win out, Kansas City holds the key. If KC wins out as well, we will lose the tiebreaker to them based on overall conference record. The thing we have going for us is that SD and KC have brutal schedules the rest of the way out, not to mention that they play each other�Conventional wisdom would say that both of these teams will probably each lose a game, thus leaving our destiny in our hands, but until KC trips up, they hold the key to the #6 spot�Here�s to Eli Tiki and Plaxico going buck this Saturday in the Meadowlands�And finally, for what it�s worth, we can still win the North�we win out, Cincy loses out, we win the North. It�s that simple. I�ll bring that one up again after the Bungles lose to the Lions on Sunday.
Staff Note: ChiTraderRob has authored this playoff analysis. The staff is working with him to update his table and analysis weekly until the playoffs are set. He is focused on the AFC race but if time permits, he may delve into the NFC playoff race.