Who gets left out in the AFC Playoff Race?
As it stands right now, it looks like there are about 6 quality teams in the AFC East, North and South....and with one spot going to the winner of the West (Yes, the Chiefs and Raiders are improved...but not on level of these other teams yet imo) one quality team is getting left out.
So here is my look at each of those 6 teams:
New England Patriots - Best record in the league...offense keeps on rolling while their young defense shows flashes. It's hard for me to see them missing out on the playoffs.
New York Jets - Thier offense really sputtered vs. Green Bay last week, but they have the talent on both sides of the ball to be very dangerous. That defense is smothering and when the weather starts to turn and the high flying passing attacks slow down, they have the o-line and RBs to really grind out close playoff-atmosphere type games. I really feel like they're getting one of the Wildcard spots at least.
Pittsburgh Steelers - They had a hiccup against the Saints, but their defense is beastly and their offense is extremely well rounded with Ben back and Mendenhall running well. I think they win the North.
Baltimore Ravens - Another team who can play defense with the best of them and has balance on offense. I think they just beat out the AFC South loser for the other Wildcard spot.
Indy Colts - Or should I say Indy Peyton Mannings? He just keeps getting it done...not always as pretty as years past, and I think they may still lose a few against quality opponents, but it would be absolutely foolish to count them out of the playoffs until the day comes where they do actually miss out.
Tennessee Titans - Because I'm reluctant to rule out the Colts, Ravens or Jets, I guess by default I have to rule out Tennessee....but thats very hard to do. They're quietly the highest scoring team in the league (read that on TMQ) and are playing very solid defense. Their games remaining against the Colts are probably going to be the most imporant for any of the teams I've mentioned here...even if the Titans can split those games, they have a chance.
These 6 would make for a hell of a playoffs even without an AFCW team. There isn't a true "weak link" in there....any of those teams could beat any other team in there on any given day, it'd be hard to pick a winner.
So which of those teams do you think is most likely to miss out? Or could it be more than one? The Dolphins, Chargers and Texans are all dangerous and could have a say in how things fall, but I think each of them is overall worse than the 6 here.