Only a few weeks left in the regular season and there are still a lot of questions in the AFC playoff picture. Allow me to shed some light. Also, if you're curious about what's going on in the NFC, check out my amigo's blog.
Let's get down to business.
Indianapolis Colts- Obviously they're the favorite pick in the AFC right now they're undefeated. With that being said I've been hearing a lot of doubters out there because this team has had a few come from behind victories and close wins in the past few weeks. Really? How does this make you question that team? The 2007 Patriots had a few close games so don't start thinking that undefeated means blowing everyone out. I think winning close games shows character in a team, when the chips are down this team shows up to play. That scares me more than a team that's blowing teams out every week, because what comes with that is complacency. In other words you lose the hunger to win, you just expect it, which leads to a humiliating beat down. Closing thought, Peyton Manning. No explanation needed. REMAINING OPPONENTS (25-23): Denver (8-4), at Jacksonville (7-5), N.Y. Jets (6-6), at Buffalo (4-8).
San Diego Chargers- Every year we question this team because of a slow start. Then they heat up towards the end of the season and really start to play some solid football. I'm really surprised that Phillip Rivers name isn't being thrown in as an MVP candidate. Look at the numbers people, he's playing quality football. On top of that their receiving core is really coming along, we all know about Gates by now, but Vincent Jackson and all the other 6'5 monster wide outs they have give Rivers a few big targets. Sproles is an awesome spell back and an asset to special teams. Tomlinson is still capable of crossing the century mark given 25 carries. The defense to me is their achilles heal, Merriman isn't lights out like he used to be which has made Cromartie and the rest of the secondary not look so studly. Not to mention that Turner seems to take them to the playoffs and makes no guarantee after that. Look for a similar outcome this season.REMAINING OPPONENTS (25-23): at Dallas (8-4), Cincinnati (9-3), at Tennessee (5-7), Washington (3-9).
Cincinnati Bengals- Hi, where did you guys come from? A team last year that was dismal has really put it together which may save Marvin Lewis' job. We now see why Benson was a first-round pick, he's taken a serious load on his shoulders and at the same time taken a major one off of Carson Palmer. Then they add Larry Johnson into the mix who played well in Benson's place when he was injured. The defense is playing better than it ever has, and better than anyone ever would've expected. Golf clap. The question mark here is egos, and how long they'll stay in check. Right now everyone's happy, but with a bunch of questionable personalites on the team they're about as predictable as a manic depressant, but so long as this team can stay focused, they are extremely dangerous. Even with a tough remaining schedule, they still have an ace in the hole, the other two threats in the AFC north (Steelers, Ravens) have another game against each other and a tough schedule which means those two teams will likely eat each other and allow the Bengals to run away with the division and possibly have both teams miss the playoffs all together. REMAINING OPPONENTS (28-20): at Minnesota (10-2), at San Diego (9-3), Kansas City (3-9), at N.Y. Jets (6-6).
New England Patriots- Up until that massacre in New Orleans everyone still seemed to favor the Patriots. Now everyone has questions about how good they are and how far they'll go. Let me say right now that I had questions long before that. My questions were more defensively because I figured on offense they would just piece it all together like usual, but in the redzone this team has been stalling, the only place they're doing worse is on the road. Don't get me started on their play on the road. Back to the defense, this isn't that Patriots defense we all know and love. The heart of that defense is gone. Bruschi and Harrison are in suits talking about how bad the team is. Vrabel is finding out how the other side feels, losing that is, and let's not forget about Seymore who has been banished to football hell in Oakland. Their defense is a lot younger than it's been during any point when this was a Superbowl contending team, if they want to continue they're going to have to grow up. Lucky for them their schedule softens up right about now.REMAINING OPPONENTS (21-27): Carolina (5-7), at Buffalo (4-8), Jacksonville (7-5), at Houston (5-7).
Denver Broncos- Whatever you expect this team to do at this point is what they don't do. We expect them to stink up Invesco Field, they start out with a few wins. We accuse their first few games on the schedule to be soft, they beat two potential playoff teams in Dallas and New England. We see them as a serious threat in the AFC, they lose four straight. We think their luck has run out, they bounce back and win their last two. So it seems to me that wild card describes more than just their possible playoff position. They have two very winnable games on the schedule and two games that will give us a measuring stick on whether or not they're really contenders. I think this weekends game against the Colts will really set the tone for the rest of the season. If, and this is a big IF, they can upset the Colts I think they will really gain some momentum for the rest of the season. The only way they'll beat the Colts is if Dumervil and the Denver pass rush can get to Manning. Not likely. But if they can play them tough in a close game I think that will also give them momentum. On another note, why has no one mentioned Dumervil for Defensive MVP? He's playing like a man who might lose his job to the recession. REMAINING OPPONENTS (27-21): at Indianapolis (12-0), Oakland (4-8), at Philadelphia (8-4), Kansas City (3-9).
Jacksonville Jaguars- M.J.D. is a bowling ball of fury. This guy consistently gets a 100 on the ground and plays with a giant chip on his shoulder over being a second-round pick and I love it. David Garrard isn't winning games for them but he's not losing them either. Sims-Walker is becoming a receiver to watch which gives them a threat on the outside. Defensively is where I think their struggles lie, they haven't been that terrifying Jacksonville D that they used to be. You can contribute that to never recovering from losing Marcus Stroud, who was a phenom while he was there in Jacksonville. Also losing Mike Peterson to Atlanta after that whole feud with Del Rio. Three of their four remaining games are against playoff contenders so things don't look too bright for this team. I see them losing this spot to one of the teams in the hunt, which one you ask? Read on my friends. REMAINING OPPONENTS (26-22): Miami (6-6), Indianapolis (12-0), at New England (7-5), at Cleveland (1-11).
In the hunt
Baltimore Ravens- Defensively this team will hold tough down the stretch and hopefully they can get Ed Reed healthy and on the field. Offensively, this team has been creative in getting Ray Rice the ball in space and he has delivered. The guy's a stud. Moving onto Flacco, he's going to have to find another receiver to throw to than Mason if he wants to take this team into the playoffs. The question is who will step up and be the Miles Austin for Baltimore. The Ravens do have a very favorable schedule down the stretch, three very winnable games and then they face the Steelers on the road which may decide who goes to the playoffs. I choose the Ravens to move into the last wild card spot in the playoffs. REMAINING OPPONENTS (17-31): Detroit (2-10), Chicago (5-7), at Pittsburgh (6-6), at Oakland (4-8).
Pittsburgh Steelers- Since you already know my pick I'll keep these last few team breakdowns brief. Roethlisberger getting his bell rung is going to affect his play, should he choose to play. Concussions are iffy and it'll be a little while before he's a 100%. No Polomalu, no D. He's been injured for a lot of the season. He was on the cover of Madden. Coincedence? REMAINING OPPONENTS (21-27): at Cleveland (1-11), Green Bay (8-4), Baltimore (6-6), at Miami (6-6).
New York Jets- Let's have this conversation when you have Kris Jenkins back ok? Alright, thanks for playing. See you guys next year. REMAINING OPPONENTS (28-20): at Tampa Bay (1-11), Atlanta (6-6), at Indianapolis (12-0), Cincinnati (9-3).
Miami Dolphins- I just don't think that Henne is going to make enough plays to get them to the playoffs. I think he has a lot of upside, but not this year. I still have fun watching the wildcat though, if that makes you guys feel any better. REMAINING OPPONENTS (23-25): at Jacksonville (7-5), at Tennessee (5-7), Houston (5-7), Pittsburgh (6-6).
Tennessee Titans- Just too big of a hole to start off the season. But I'm glad to see the resurgence of Vince Young. Pat on the back. REMAINING OPPONENTS (21-27): St. Louis (1-11), Miami (6-6), San Diego (9-3), at Seattle (5-7).
Houston Texans- You are the definition of an underachiever. REMAINING OPPONENTS (19-29): Seattle (5-7), at St. Louis (1-11), at Miami (6-6), New England (7-5).
Anyone still hungry? That was a pretty heavy plate of food, if you've made it to this sentence I applaud you for making it all the way through. If you would like dessert, I recommend Cold Stone Ice Cream, or you can wait for my next blog. Thank you readers, hopefully you enjoyed, if you made it this far I assume you did.