AFC Playoff Picture

Updated 11/29/2005.

Seed
Team
Record
Div.
Conf.
1
Indianapolis Colts
11-0
4-0
9-0
2
Denver Broncos
9-2
3-0
6-1
3
Cincinnati Bengals
8-3
3-1
5-3
4
New England Patriots
6-5
2-0
4-4
5
Jacksonville Jaguars
8-3
2-1
6-2
6
Pittsburgh Steelers
7-4
3-1
6-4
San Diego Chargers
7-4
2-1
5-2
Kansas City Chiefs
7-4
2-2
6-3

TIEBREAKERS:

1.) Pittsburgh wins the tiebreaker over San Diego and Kansas City by virtue of having a better division record. Woo.

I don’t care what anyone says — especially this dork — about the Colts’ weak schedule. They’re that good. They’ve taken all comers so far and beaten them with offense and defense. Well, they beat the Bengals with offense, but that’s all they needed, and they still won by 8.

What may stop the Colts from going undefeated? Tony Dungy clinching home-field advantage early and deciding to rest his starters the last two weeks of the season. The Seahawks may still be trying to fend off the Bears and Panthers come Week 16, when Indy travels to Seattle. The Jaguars will be without Byron Leftwich for the rest of the regular season. The Chargers… well, they mighthave a shot, but the way Naptown shut down the Steelers running game, you’d think they could shut down LaDainian Tomlinson, too. It’s been done at least once before, and that Colts’ defense swarms in on the ball like paparazzi on Paris Hilton. And it’s just as creepy.

Can David Garrard keep Jacksonville afloat in the Wild Card race? Take away the home game against the Colts, and the Jags draw Cleveland, San Francisco, Houston and Tennessee. Those teams are a combined 10-34. Yeah, it seems possible, which isn’t good for those NFC West teams struggling to catch the Broncos. Or for Pittsburgh, because Jacksonville has the tie-breaker on them if they choke again.

THIS WEEK’S BIG GAMES:

1.) Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (Sun., 1:00 PM, CBS): The Steelers have to win this game. Period. If the Steelers lose this one, their season is over. Done. Finished. And the entire coaching staff should be shitcanned. Shit. Canned. Someone needs to remind Bill Cowher and Ken Whisenhunt that Antwaan Randle El is not a free agent yet. The only way Randle El re-signs with Pittsburgh after the season is if Cowher gets fired and replaced with San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who found lots of creative uses for Randle El at my alma mater.

2.) Denver at Kansas City (Sun., 4:15 PM, CBS): So how good is that Kansas City defense this year? This game should answer that question. Then again, it’s Denver’s defense that’s doing the job, isn’t it? They could kick some sand in Trent Green’s face by winning this one.

3.) Oakland at San Diego (Sun., 8:30 PM, ESPN): The Raiders have been reduced to the role of spoiler, but how is that different from any other season lately? The Chargers need to minimize the turnovers and keep feeding Tomlinson the ball. Last time LT faced the Raiders? 1 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD, and 1 passing TD. Oh, and 140 yards rushing. Antwaan Randle El will follow Cam Cameron anywhere.

4.) Jacksonville at Cleveland (Sun., 1:00 PM, CBS): The Browns may be a different team at home (3-2 in Cleveland vs. 1-5 on the road) but I fully suspect Jack Del Rio to institute the Tommy Maddox defense — stop the running game at all costs and make the QB win it. As long as David Garrard doesn’t lay an egg, it’s all good for the Jags.

5.) N.Y. Jets at New England (Sun., 4:15 PM, CBS): If Miami beats Buffalo on Sunday, the Pats can all but clinch the AFC East by beating the hollow shell that used to be the Jets. We know it’s not Herman Edwards’ fault, but damn.

6.) Tennessee at Indianapolis (Sun., 1:00 PM, CBS): The Colts may lose a game this year. It won’t be this Sunday.

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