This weekend’s slate of games had a ton of playoff implications as far as seeding goes. Saturday saw the Houston Texans take care of business on the road against the New York Jets, while the Cleveland Browns maintained playoff survival at Denver.
Entering Sunday, the New England Patriots needed a win to maintain a top seed for a first-round bye and the Pittsburgh Steelers needed a win to stay atop of the AFC North. The black and gold prevailed at home, and sit in 4th place in the conference, while the Pats dropped to the 3 seed and now have the most losses by a Tom Brady team (5) since 2009.
The Baltimore Ravens took down the Tamp Bay Buccaneers to keep pace with Pittsburgh, but to also stay inside the Wild Card picture, and the Tennessee Titans defeated the Giants in New Jersey to stay 1 game back of the Ravens.
The most impressive win on Sunday hands down was the Indianapolis Colts blanking the surging Dallas Cowboys 23-0. The Colts are the hottest team in the AFC and have won 7 of their last 8 games overall. This is easily the most dangerous football club entering Week 16 and I doubt any team wants to go toe-to-toe with Andrew Luck in January.
Kansas City lost to the LA Chargers on Thursday but own the tie breaker over LA based on wins against common opponents. Like Indy, the Chargers are peaking at the correct moment and are true road warriors. Their only loss at home came against the cross-town rival Rams in Week 3, and the Chargers are legitimate Super bowl contenders.
The 5 seed is secure, which means that the Ravens, Colts and Titans will be competing for the final spot, and a few teams need help such as the Dolphins and Browns. Baltimore controls their own destiny and plays Cleveland and the Chargers in the final weeks. Week 16 could push the Ravens out, and the way I see it, Indy can walk right in as they play the ailing Giants and the Titans in Weeks 16 and 17 respectively.
That means that if the Titans defeat the Redskins next week…the 6 seed could, and quite possibly will, come down to the tilt in Nashville as the Titans host the Colts in the regular season finale. Baltimore has a do-or-die game against the Bolts next week, but have lost to the Browns already this season.
The AFC and the NFC playoff races are tighter than we have seen in recent years, but don’t be surprised if the Colts sneak their way into the postseason after they began the year with 1 win through 6 weeks.