And I do mean miracle... even if we win out, we'll need help to get in. So why not get it now?
Before looking at this week's games, here are the current AFC standings:
1. Indianapolis Colts (13-0)
2. San Diego Chargers (10-3)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)
4. New England Patriots (8-5)
5. Denver Broncos (8-5)
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6)
7. Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
8. Miami Dolphins (7-6)
9. New York Jets (7-6)
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7)
11. Tennessee Titans (6-7)
12. Houston Texans (6-7)
13. Buffalo Bills (5-8)
(Oakland, Kansas City, and Cleveland cannot make the playoffs.)
Week 15 games (roughly in order of decreasing importance):
Dolphins at Titans: Titans... not that I needed to tell you that. But a loss this week eliminates us: we would finish at best 8-8; Denver and Miami would finish 8-8 at worst, and we lose the tiebreaker to both (by conference record).
Colts at Jaguars: Colts. We need the Jags to lose twice in order to pass them. Luckily for us, they play Indy and then NE, and we really need them to lose both of those games, as they close at Cleveland. (Indy plays the Jets next week, so here's hoping they choose to pursue 16-0 instead of resting everybody.)
Bears at Ravens: Bears. They're the Ravens, so we generally want them to lose anyways. But they also need to lose two of their last three in order for Tennessee to pass them. Their last two games are at Pittsburgh and at Oakland.
Falcons at Jets: Falcons. The Jets, too, must lose two of their last three in order for us to pass them, OR the Titans, Dolphins, and Jets must all finish with the same record (in which case we win the tiebreaker, as the Dolphins-Jets intradivisional tie is resolved first and the Fins win that). But I'd feel better about it if they just went ahead and lost two. Their last two are at Indy and home versus Cincinnati.
Packers at Steelers: Packers. The Steelers need to lose just one more to finish behind us. They play Baltimore next week, and we need them to beat the Ratbirds, so best they get their loss here (and hopefully a bad one so they're PO'ed when Baltimore comes calling). The Steelers finish at Miami.
Patriots at Bills: Pats. The Patriots would have to lose all of their last three in order for us to pass them. And we need them to beat Jacksonville, so that's not really in our best interest. Nor do we want another team near the 9-7 quagmire to potentially mess things up... it's best they go ahead and win the East. Their last game is at Houston.
Raiders at Broncos: Raiders. The Broncos need to lose all of their last three for us to pass them, and given their remaining schedule (they travel to Philly, but finish at home versus KC), it's not likely to happen. But we can hope, right?
Bengals at Chargers: Chargers. While it's unlikely that they'll completely secure the #2 seed this week (not only must they win, the Bills and the Raiders must also win for that to happen), it would be almost certainly theirs... a fact which would hopefully drain a little bit of their motivation when they come to visit us.
Texans at Rams: Rams. We don't need the Texans to lose any more, as we own the tiebreaker over them (better divisional record). But still, I wouldn't complain if it happened.
I think that about does it... feel free to correct anything I might have erred on.
Links for your reading pleasure:
- NFL Tie-Breaking Procedures
- PlayoffStatus.com (An interesting site with probabilities, clinching/elimination scenarios, etc. for each team. And not just for the NFL, but other leagues too!)