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AFC Wild Card Picture as Wild as Ever

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Dec/29/2020

While the NFC tries to figure out which of its below-.500 teams will make the postseason, the AFC may find itself in a scenario where a team with 11 wins fails to make the Wild Card round.

Twice before, an 11-win team has missed the NFL playoffs. But only one of the previous 11-win teams to be left out of the postseason happened when the playoffs included six teams from each conference - the 2008 New England Patriots.

And this year, with the playoffs expanded to 14 total teams, it seemed like an impossibility that we might get a repeat. But thanks to a crazy Week 16, we’re set up for an even more unpredictable Week 17, as five current 10-5 teams battle for four playoff spots.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns were playing the lowly Jets in Week 16 and could have punched their ticket with a win. But the Jets are now world-beaters and on a two-game winning streak after beating the Browns, as all of Cleveland’s wide receivers were on the COVID-19/reserve list.

Take two in Week 17, where a win over Pittsburgh now gets the Browns in. Or if the Browns lose, they need Indianapolis to lose, or Tennessee to lose and Baltimore and Miami to win.

Baltimore Ravens

The 10-5 Ravens also have total control over their own fate after winning four straight games. A fifth straight win over Cincinnati on Sunday - a game in which the NFL odds have them as 11.5-point favorites - puts them at 11-5 and into a Wild Card slot.

But even if the Ravens were to lose to the suddenly frisky Bengals (winners of two straight), Baltimore will still make the playoffs if either the Browns or Colts lose their game.

Miami Dolphins

Do the Dolphins have one more week of Fitzmagic in them? Ryan Fitzpatrick came off the bench to pull off a miracle against the Raiders, saving the Dolphins season. Another win by Miami on Sunday against the Bills will clinch its first playoff spot in four years.

If, however, Buffalo beats them, all is not lost. The Dolphins will make the playoffs if Baltimore loses, Cleveland loses, or Indianapolis loses. Only one of those losses will get it done.

Indianapolis Colts/Tennessee Titans

One of these teams will be the winner of the AFC South and make the playoffs as a division champion. If the Titans beat the Texans - something many online betting aficionados believe they will do with ease - the division is theirs. If the Colts lose, Tennessee will win the division regardless of its own result.

If the Titans lose and the Colts win, Tennessee can still get a Wild Card spot with a Baltimore loss or Miami loss. So there are lots of possibilities to get last year’s AFC runner-up back in the playoffs.

For the Colts, if they beat Jacksonville and the Titans lose to Houston, they will win the AFC South. But they can still get in as a Wild Card if Tennessee wins. Indianapolis must win its game, and either the Ravens, Browns, or Dolphins must lose.

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