The eight 2016 AFC playoff teams have all been determined with one week left to go in the season. The teams include two from the AFC East and West and one each from the South and North. However, which team will be AFC West division champs and which the wild card will not be determined until next week. Some teams are in better shape than others. In fact, two clubs will go into and through the playoffs without their starting quarterbacks. Those clubs will be severely tested during the postseason. Here’s a look at each playoff club, starting with the top seeds.
New England Patriots
The Patriots (13-2) come into the playoffs with a bye and the best chance of securing home field advantage. They play the Dolphins in Miami. The Fins won’t be a push over, but Pats will be favored. The other thing New England Has going for them is the fact that Oakland lost its starting quarterback this week Derek Carr and they have to play the Broncos. The Pats will not have star TE Rob Gronkowski for the playoffs. But they appear to have adjusted to that. We’re giving them an 80% chance of winning the AFC title.
As noted, the Raiders (12-3) will be without their starting quarterback throughout the playoffs. They lost him when they beat Indy this week 33-25. Oakland plays Denver and will still be in the postseason no matter what happens. However, if they lose to the Broncos and Kansas City beats the Chargers next week, which is quite possible, San Diego wins the tiebreaker and will take the AFC West. That means the Raiders would be the wild card.
Oakland has a productive offense, but a loose defense, and that will hurt them. Plus, there’s the problem regarding Carr. Matt McGloin, fourth season out of Penn State, will get the call to QB. He’s played in a total of 12 games and has tossed 266 passes completing 58.3%. He’s tossed 11 TDs and 11 INTs. We’re giving this club a 65% chance of winning the title.
The Steelers (10-5) have been on a role and they took it to the Ravens this weekend to knock Baltimore out of the playoff picture and capture the AFC North. Early in the season, Pittsburgh looked like they would easily take the division. Pittsburgh was 4-1 when they went on a four-game losing streak. They lost to the Dolphins, Patriots, Ravens, and Cowboys. Then the turnaround, where they won six straight including this week’s defeat of Baltimore 31-27.
Pittsburgh has an explosive offense and Ben Roethlisberger has it running efficiently and effectively. The team has had some injuries and needs to stay in good health. We think the Steeler have a 75% chance to taking the AFC Championship.
The Texans (9-6) have won three and have one more to go this week against the Titans. They won the AFC South in around about way. They have a very good defense that manages to keep them in the game. I a little less than two games, QB Tom Savage has no touchdown passes and no interceptions. He is completing 63.1% of his passes.
We’re really bothered by the Texans -42 point differential. Their defense is overall solid, but their offense tends to come and go. Maybe Savage can guide this team to the title game, but that will be a tough road for him to complete if he can’t toss a TD pass. Give the Texans a 35% chance of getting to the Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs (11-4) are presently in the wild card spot, but as we noted above a Kansas City win next week and an Oakland loss gives them the AFC West title. The team has a solid offense that utilizes the pass and the run. Their defense has really played well. Plus, this is a club that can win games in the waning seconds.
The team has a penchant for being in a lot of games that are decided by five or fewer points. They’re 4-2 in such situations, which is comforting. But they tend to let some teams stick around for too long. We expect them to win their final game. Of all the 2016 AFC Playoff Teams, what are their chances of winning the title? We’d say 70%
The Miami Dolphins (10-5) started the season losing four of five. Then they went 9-1. That included a six-game winning streak. In those wins, they’ve been scoring around 29 PPG. Although Tannenhill has been lost for the playoffs, backup Matt Moore (58.5%, 6 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 Sack) has played well.
Their PF/PA differential is just +4. However, in recent weeks they’ve been widening that gap. If Moore can carry this team, that will be great. But it won’t be easy. Of the 2016 AFC Playoff Teams, we’re giving them a 68% chance of winning the conference.