Breaking Down Potential Playoff Scenarios In AFC

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Breaking Down the Potential Playoff Scenarios in the AFC

Breaking Down the Potential Playoff Scenarios in the AFC
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC is wide-open, and all the teams who make the playoffs have a chance to make a deep run. It’s been a parity league and anybody can beat anybody. Every team seems to be flawed in one way or another. It is difficult to determine which teams have the advantage in these playoffs.

The first five seeds of the AFC playoffs are basically set in stone with potential, yet unlikely minor seed changes. The Denver Broncos have the no. 1 seed locked up and are due for a bye week before they play a playoff game. If they lose and the New England Patriots win, Peyton Manning and the Broncos will get a no. 2 seed at best. However, Denver is playing the Oakland Raiders, so a loss is virtually improbable.

The Patriots also play against a bum AFC team, the Buffalo Bills, so a loss is an unlikely result for them as well. With a loss, however, a Cincinnati Bengals or an Indianapolis Colts win could knock the Pats off their throne. Again, it’s a long shot. The Bengals and the Colts have earned the no. 3 and no. 4 seeds respectively. Those are also interchangeable depending on the W/L situation this week. Nonetheless, I think that may be the only difference.

The Kansas City Chiefs may be stuck as the no. 5 seed unless all the playoff teams lose. Although they’re the no. 5 seed, don’t count them out. They have a mighty explosive team that can beat anyone.

In the last week of the season, four teams will be fighting for that final playoff spot. Let's take a look at how the AFC playoff picture could shape up at season’s end.

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5. Miami Dolphins

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins hold the tiebreaker between them and the Ravens. So if Dolphins win and Baltimore loses or ties, they earn the no. 6 seed. Or, if Dolphins win and San Diego wins, it doesn't matter if the Ravens win or lose -- Miami is in. However, the Dolphins peaked when they beat the Patriots, and the New York Jets will be motivated for a win for what could be their last game under Rex Ryan. After last week's loss, it is clear that the Dolphins lack mental toughness.

Prediction: Jets beat Dolphins 19-17

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4. Baltimore Ravens

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

After being mauled by the Patriots, the defending champion Ravens are hanging on to their playoff hopes by a string. The Ravens must beat the Bengals this week, in addition to the Chargers losing, or a win combined with a Dolphins’ loss. If Baltimore loses, then Miami, Pittsburgh and San Diego would all have to lose in order for them to still get in. The Bengals want a bye, so it'll be a tough matchup. Joe Flacco will have to show why he is the highest-paid quarterback in the league.

Prediction: Bengals beat Ravens 24-20

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3. Dan Diego Chargers

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

I firmly believe that the San Diego Chargers are the best team among the four fighting for a playoff spot. With Philip Rivers, they have the best quarterback out of the four teams. With little chance that the Chiefs will be moving up in the playoff seeding, the Chargers have a chance to pounce on them and steal a victory. San Diego needs a win, a Ravens loss and a Miami loss. San Diego is in need of some luck here. I think they will pull it off.

Prediction: Chargers beat Chiefs 34-30

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2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have actually put together a nice second half of the season. If the season were to start all over again, the Steelers would be a playoff team. However, it’s a matter of too little, too late. The Steelers need a miracle to get in. The Dolphins, the Ravens and the Chargers would all have to lose. Although this scenario seems unlikely, it is not far-fetched. In the AFC, anything can happen. The Steelers will win, yet fall short of a playoff spot due to a San Diego win.

Prediction: Steelers beat Browns 31-20

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1. AFC Playoff Predictions

Peyton Manning
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff Scenario Prediction

No. 1 -- Denver Broncos

No. 2 -- New England Patriots

No. 3 -- Cincinnati Bengals

No. 4 -- Indianapolis Colts

No. 5 -- Kansas City Chiefs

No. 6 -- San Diego Chargers

Chiefs beat Colts; Bengals beat Chargers; Chiefs beat Broncos; Patriots beat Bengals; Patriots beat Chiefs to clinch AFC.