AFC Wildcard Playoff Race

 George Bridges/Associated Press

George Bridges/Associated Press

Only three weeks left in the NFL season, before the playoffs starts. One thing to look at now since the season is ending soon, is AFC Wildcard race. It is really close right now, with three teams with an 8-5 record and two teams fighting to sneak into the playoffs. Hoping to have some help from other teams to get the playoff spot. Here are a few teams still alive in the AFC Wildcard race.

1 Kansas City Chiefs 8-5 Starting out the season 1-5, losing five straight games after winning the first game of the season. Nobody expected this team to be in the playoff race, even after losing all star running Jamall Charles for the season. Everyone doubted this team, now the team is riding high winning seven straight games holding a record of 8-5 and hold the first wildcard spot in the AFC. Big reason why the team has made a massive turnaround is because of the defense which has been playing well in the past seven games. They have excelled at stoping the pass and the run ranking 8th in the league. While the offense is still struggling, the defense is what keeping the Chiefs in games. In the last three games, the team has to play Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Oakland Raiders. Which are all games that the team should win. Raiders are the only team that is left on the team schedule that has a decent record, and the team can beat that team. As long as the team does not go a major meltdown in the next three weeks, the team should be able to keep the wildcard spot making it into the playoffs. There is still a small chance that the team can win the AFC West crown, since the team is only a few games out of first place with Broncos. The team would need a lot of help in order to win the AFC West.

2 New York Jets 8-5 
The season started badly for the Jets, after quarterback Geno Smith was out for the large part of the first half of the season with a broken jaw. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been impressive in his place. It helps when he has big wide receiver targets like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, who have been putting up good numbers as the number one and two wide receiver targets. The defense has been huge to the Jets success this season, ranking in the top five in the league in defense. In the last three games, the team has to play Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and New England Patriots. 2 out of the 3 games are winnable games. So if the team can keep up what the team is doing, this team could be heading to the playoffs locking up a wild card spot.

3 Pittsburgh Steelers 8-5
One of the hottest teams in the league right now. Big reason why the team is on fire right now is because of the offense which averages 404.8 yards per game good for 2nd in the league. Even though Ben Roethlisberger has been banged up this season, he has been putting up good numbers with receivers like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Bryant started the year suspended but once he came back, he looked like a dominating force at wide receiver being Roethlisberger’s best option outside of Brown. Running game has not been a problem since losing Le’Veon Bell due to suspension and a season ending injury, averaging 120.1 yards per game good for 9th in the league. Defensively the team has been solid the past few weeks, stopping the pas and run. If the playoffs started today, this is one team you really do not want to face. In the final three games, the team has to play Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, and Baltimore Ravens. If the team plays offensively and defensively the next three weeks, this team could really win three straight. The toughest game the team has is vs Broncos, and on paper this team has the offensive firepower to score points on that defense and defensively they have the talent to stop the Broncos offense. Ravens and Browns do not even pose a challenge to the Steelers. So the next three weeks, are going to be really important for the Steelers and the team needs help with either Chiefs or Jets losing 1 or 2 of there next three games to take the wildcard spot.

4 Oakland Raiders 6-7 Playoffs and the Raiders do not belong in the same sentence. This season has been a good season for the Raiders, even though the team has a really small chance of making the playoffs. It is a really good young talent young football team, that is ready to contend in the next few years. Lead by second year quarterback Derek Carr who has been putting up good numbers with rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper,. Defensively the team is leaded by second year linebacker Khalil Mack, who has been a monster in this league since getting drafted. Coming off his best game of his career recording five sacks, in a win over Broncos. In the last three games of the season, the team has to play Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. Out of the next three games, one of them are winnable games for this team and that game is vs. Chargers. Raiders need a lot of luck to make in into the playoffs, the team would need to win all three of the last three games, have Steelers lose two out of the next three and either Jets or Chiefs loss two out of the next three as well.

At the end of the day, Chiefs will be keeping the first wildcard spot. Even though the Buffalo Bills are in this race as well, it is going to come down to the Jets and Steelers in the final three weeks. It is early to tell right now who is taking the second spot. If the Jets and Steelers keep winning, it will come down to week 17. All I know is the final three weeks are going to be really interesting.

 

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