There are still several teams alive for a playoff spot, but only Denver and the surprising New York Jets control their own destiny. If each takes cares of business this Sunday they will be in with the Broncos taking the #5 seed and the Jets nabbing the #6 seed. Here is the team by team breakdown, and what each needs to do to sneak in --
- San Diego(13-2(10-2), ARI) -- The Chargers keep winning, and they need to if they want to stay home for the playoffs. It's pretty simple for the AFC West Champs, beat Arizona and they clinch the #1 seed
- Baltimore(12-3(9-2), BUF) -- The Ravens made a statement, driving the final nail into the Steelers coffin, in Pittsburgh no less. With the win the Ravens have kept the pressure on San Diego and if the Chargers slip can get the #1 seed themselves. They need to beat Buffalo and hope for a SD loss.
- Indianapolis(11-4(8-3), MIA) -- The Colts are in deep trouble, and really need to regroup, and quickly. After losing to Houston for the first time ever the COlts find themselves looking at having to play Wild Card Weekend. They haven't played real well with the BYE so it might be just what they need. A win coupled with a Raven loss and the Colts regain the #2 seed
- New England(11-4(6-4), @TEN) --
The Patriots finally clinched the AFC East with a tough win in Jacksonville and can still back in to the #3 seed with a win and a Colts loss. More likely, however, is the #4 seed and a first round matchup with Denver.
- Denver(9-6(8-4), SF) -- Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good, and the Broncos got a bit lucky beating the Bengals. I am a firm believer tha tyou make your own luck, and forcing the Bengals into 4 turnovers meant the defense came to play. Very simple for Denver - beat San Francisco in Denver and they are the #5 seed. Lose, and it becomes a convoluted mess. Just win.
- NY Jets(9-6(6-5), OAK) -- The Jets always seem to find a way to win, and last night victory in Miami has the Jets on the cusp of the playoffs. A win over hapless Oakland in the Meadowlands on Sunday and the Jets lock up the #6 seed and a probable trip to Indianapolis. If Denver should stuble the Jets can slip in to the #5 seed and a third matchup with the Patriots. Either matchup would be a lot of fun.
- Cincinnati(8-7(6-5), PIT) -- The Bengals will probably be the most talented team not to make the playoffs, kinda like the Chargers last season. With the way they played at certain times this season they probably don't deserve to get in. There are a couple ways the Bengals can get in -- Win + Jets Loss, or Win + Denver Loss + KC Win. Not looking good.
- Tennessee(8-7(5-6), NE -- What a run by the Titans. Another win, this time in Buffalo, has them right there heading into the last week of the season. It isn't likely, but if the Titans do get in no one will want to face them. For Tennessee, there is only one way to get in, but in four parts - Win + Cincy Loss or Tie + Denver Loss + KC Win
- Jacksonville(8-7(5-6), @KC) -- Backup quarterbacks are backups for a reason, and after having a couple decnet games David Garrard has fallen back to earth and brought the Jags playoff hopes with him. Jacksonvill needs alot of help to get in -- Win + NYJ Loss + Cincy Loss or Tie + Tennessee Loss or Tie
- Kansas City(8-7(4-7), JAC) -- A tie-break advantage over Denver has the Chiefs alive for a spot, though it is still a long shot. They need -- Win + Cincy Loss or Tie + Denver Loss + Tennessee Loss or Tie