NFL Playoffs 2016: AFC Wild Card race Week 15
With three games remaining, six teams are still alive for the AFC Wild Card
With the NFL season entering week 15, the AFC West’s Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos lead the Wild Card race, but four other teams playoff hopes remain alive.
Raiders clinch playoff berth win week 15 win
The Raiders path to the playoffs is simple. If the Raiders win in San Diego on Sunday they clinch their first post-season trip since they lost Super Bowl 37. Oakland defeated San Diego 34-31 in the teams’ first match up in week five. Behind a very pro-Raider crowd in San Diego, expect the Raiders to clinch at least a wild card berth this weekend.
Even if the Chargers can pull off an upset and beat Oakland, it is only a matter of time before the Raiders claim one of the two wild card berths. Oakland currently sits two games ahead of Denver and Miami in the wild card race.
Miami’s favorable schedule could see them overcome the loss of Tannehill
Despite losing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill with a sprained knee, the Miami Dolphins still have a favorable chance of claiming the second wild card. Saturday night the Dolphins travel to play the Jets. Even with backup Matt Moore starting, the Dolphins have to be favored over the Bryce Petty-led Jets team that seemed to give up on their season two weeks ago on Monday Night Football when the Indianapolis Colts blew them out.
The Dolphins close out the season with three divisional games. The Dolphins travel to Buffalo on Christmas Eve to play a Bills team that maybe eliminated from the playoffs with a loss in week 15. The Bills fan base has seemingly given up on the season, as ticket prices on the secondary market have dropped rapidly.
The Dolphins close out the season, by hosting a New England team that may have already clinched the number one seed in the AFC. If the Patriots chose to rest starters, the Dolphins could be gifted a win, and an AFC Wild Card.
Can Denver hold onto their Wild Card spot?
Entering Week 15, Denver holds the last wild card spot. But Denver has struggled since the beginning of November. The Broncos started the season 6-2, but have lost three of their last five games.
With Tom Brady and the Patriots coming to Denver, the pressure is on Trevor Siemian and the Super Bowl champions. Denver closes out the season, at Kansas City and hosting Oakland. The second Wild Card team in the AFC will need to win 10 games. For Denver to do that they need to win two of their remaining three games, against three teams that all have superior records and against two teams that Denver has already lost too.
Baltimore’s playoff hopes remain alive
Baltimore hosts the struggling Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15. At 7-6, Baltimore needs a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The game that will determine whether Baltimore’s playoff chance will come on Christmas when they go to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers. A Baltimore win,could see the Ravens win the AFC North. But a loss to Pittsburgh all but ends their chance at the playoffs.
Houston and Tennessee will battle it out for a playoff spot
Houston and Tennessee enter Week 15 tied for the AFC South lead at 7-6. The Titans have the difficult task of going to Kansas City this week. Houston gets luckier and hosts Jacksonville. Ultimately, expect the AFC South to be decided in Week 17 when Tennessee hosts Houston. The winner likely claims the division. Unfortunately, for the a loser, it will likely mean that they will miss the playoffs. It will take ten wins to claim an AFC Wild Card. The loser of the Week 17 match up could finish with nine wins and miss the playoffs.
Buffalo and Indianapolis are alive, but have almost no chance of winning a Wild Card
At 6-7, the Bills and Colts are technically still alive in the AFC Wild Card picture. With Oakland already having 10 wins, even if both teams win out, only one of the two can make the playoffs. But for either team to make the playoffs, they have to win out, and hope that Baltimore, Miami, Denver, Houston and Tennessee lose out.
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