Last week, I analyzed the AFC and NFC playoff pictures, and these were my conclusions:
– The Pittsburgh Steelers were in pretty good shape… but only if they won as 3-point favorites hosting the Miami Dolphins. They did not.
– The Miami Dolphins weren’t in great shape, but could change that by pulling the mild upset. They did.
– The Baltimore Ravens looked a lot more screwed than their record suggests… even if they beat the Minnesota Vikings, as expected. They almost lost, so they remain more screwed than meets the immediate eye.
– The New York Jets were not actually screwed, unless they lost to the Raiders, which I didn’t expect to happen. It did not happen.
– Besides that, nothing looked too crazy. The second AFC Wild Card spot was obviously the most hazy piece. The rest was sort of clear. It still sort of is. Let’s analyze.
(If you want to play around yourself… use ESPN’s Playoff Machine. It’s a wonderful creation that rivals the automobile in cultural significance.)
What I Think Will Happen
This is pure speculation… but what’s more fun than pure speculation?
Steelers beat Bengals. (The Steelers are 3-point underdogs as of now… so, a bit of an upset.)
Panthers beat Jets.
Cardinals beat Titans. (The Titans are 2.5-point underdogs.)
Lions beat Ravens. (Big game for both teams. But the Lions are 6-point favorites.)
Broncos beat Chargers.
Bills beat Dolphins. (The Bills are very good at home. This is not nearly as crazy as it seems, but it’s far from a sure thing.)
Jets beat Browns. (Never a sure thing with the Jets winning.)
Patriots beat Ravens. (With Gronk out and the Ravens’ great home record… far from a sure thing. They’re just 1-point favorites right now. Which is why the Ravens still look pretty good.)
Chargers beat Raiders.
Titans beat Jags on the road. (Again, far from a sure thing.)
Steelers beat Packers at Lambeau…
UNLESS Aaron Rodgers comes back, which seems likely. Which is why we have now plunged into the depths of the…
AARON RODGERS COLLARBONE MATRIX
YOU CAN’T LEAVE NOW. YOU’VE BEEN SUCKED IN, AND THE BONE IS MOSTLY HEALED, SO YOU CAN’T SQUEEZE YOUR WAY OUT. THERE ARE DIVERGING PATHS FROM HERE.
WITH RODGERS PLAYING:
Packers destroy Steelers at Lambeau, because Aaron Rodgers.
(Packers also beat Cowboys and Bears, and finish 9-6-1. They miss the playoffs… unless Detroit loses vs. Baltimore, vs. the Giants, or at Minnesota. Feasible.)
Titans beat Texans.
Chargers beat Chiefs. (They’ll be at home, and the Chiefs will likely be locked into the 5th seed. Will they be motivated, and will they rest their players?)
Steelers beat Browns.
Bengals beat Ravens, at home. (Unless they rest their players, which is reasonably possible, especially in this scenario where the Bengals may have clinched the No. 3 seed with no shot to move up. But in a rivalry game, I wouldn’t count on it.)
THEN IT COMES DOWN TO…
Dolphins beat Jets. They’re in.
(Unless they lose, as the biased Jets fan in me wants to write. It really is a thing that is possible. The Jets are bad, but the Dolphins are nothing special. In this case, THE JETS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. Really.)
THIS ALL HINGES ON AARON RODGERS PLAYING THIS WEEK… LET’S RETURN TO THE MATRIX
WITH RODGERS SITTING
Steelers beat Packers at Lambeau.
In this case, the Dolphins beat the Jets, and… they’re still in. But if the Jets win (THIS WILL GUARANTEED HAPPEN YOU GUYS)… then the Steelers make it.
BUT YOU ONLY TOLD US ABOUT THE AFC WILD CARD… THERE ARE OTHER TEAMS, BRO
You’re right. And regardless of whether it’s the Dolphins, Ravens, or Jets (the teams with the best chances, in order, by my complete speculation, assuming Rodgers returns)… the rest of the playoff picture is pretty clear.
– If Rodgers comes back, there’s a good chance the Lions need to win out to win the division and make the playoffs. Fortunately for them, they’ll be favored in all three games.
– Carolina looks locked into the 5th seed, even if they finish 12-4. Same with the Chiefs.
– The Bengals have a pretty good shot at the No. 2 seed, but it’ll take their best effort and subpar performances by the Pats. I don’t think it’ll happen.
– The Colts are almost certainly getting the No. 4 seed.
– The 49ers look like a safe bet to keep the No. 6 seed, even if they lose at Arizona Week 17. But they probably won’t pass Carolina.
– The Cardinals probably aren’t making the playoffs,
– Things could get dicey for Dallas if they lose to the Bears tonight, which is very possible.
– The Seahawks are probably the No. 1 seed. The Saints are probably the No. 2 seed.
THE BIG OL GUESS
There you have it. My completely subjective guess as to what will happen. An educated guess, though. I graduated fifth grade. (Yesterday. I am Billy Madison.)