Looking ahead at the schedule and some of the advanced stat sites I believe the success of our regular season hinges on the next three games: Redskins, Chargers and the Giants. Go 3-0 and we have a bye in the first round. 0-3 and we'll be watching the playoffs at home. Something in-between is most likely with the Charger game being the most important.
First, a quick look at our remaining schedule with expected win percentages from nfl-forecast.com:
83% @ Washington
70% San Diego
76% NY Giants
95% @ KC
40% @ Indy
60% @ Philly
Looking at the last 5 games, it's not tough to see that we have 3 gimmes and two tougher games. 60% chance of us winning @ Philly seems generous and Indy is just plain great so for this analysis, I'm going to assume we go 3-2 over these 5 games.
Now, let's take a quick look at the expected win totals for the AFC playoff contenders from coolstandings.com
11.7 New England
9.7 San Diego
What this says to me is that you need 13-14 wins for the top seed (I think Indy has this sewn up). 12 wins gets you the 2 seed and a first round bye. 10-11 wins and you get a division win. 9 wins means you miss the playoffs.
So, assuming we go 3-2 over our last 5, we'll be 9-4 outside of the three games coming up. 3-0 means 12 wins and a likely first round bye. 2-1 or 1-2 should give us the division and a home playoff game. 0-3 means no playoffs.
Of course, the game with San Diego is the most critical. If we win that one, beat the doormats, but lose every other game, we'll still be 10-6 and have the tie breaker over the Chargers. They would need to go 6-1 over their other games to pass us.
Looking at these three games, I think we beat Washington and drop one of San Diego or Giants. That gives us a projected final record of 11-5 which should win us the division.
So, to sum up, I think we'll end up being a 3 or 4 seed in the playoffs unless we go 3-0 over these next three games.