The Red Shamrock: AFC Playoff Speculation And Week 13 NFL Picks
Red Shamrock Notes: The Red Shamrock left off the picks of Denver -3.5 and Packers +4 (noted on Twitter) for his Week 12 picks. Those picks have been calculated into his season total. Sometimes we just have to accept that he should not be his own editor.
It’s speculation time. Five games left in the NFL regular season and we have some interesting and not so interesting division races along with log jams at the wild card spots. For those that don’t understand how the NFL playoffs work, it goes something like this:
The Red Shamrock will now break this video out for his wife every year
Time to look at the AFC division leaders and determine who is going to be the top two seeds and who will be playing on Wild Card Weekend (playoffs start January 7th, 2017). Let’s list the division leaders, any teams that could steal the division lead, and denote the games back the chasing team is. For example, Oakland is the AFC West division leader and the Kansas City Chiefs -1 (one game back) and the Denver Broncos -2 (two games back).
AFC East: New England Patriots (9-2), Miami -2
We all know I hate New England. I hate their smugness. I hate how officials favor them in games. I hate Brady and Belichick. I hate Gronkowski only due to the fact he is a New England Patriot (and he tortures fantasy owners). The Patriots currently have a two game lead over the Miami Dolphins and three game lead over the Buffalo Bills, their “closest” challengers in the division. If the playoffs were to start today, they would be the one seed in the AFC.
New England (9-2) Remaining Five Game Schedule
The Patriots have their division locked up. It’s just a matter of where they will be seeded for the playoffs. The Rams and Jets are a combined 7-16 while the rest of the teams the Patriots face are a combined 20-13. Let’s go ahead and assume the Patriots when their last three home games (not guaranteed as they are 3-2 at home this year with losses to the Bills and Seahawks, but one loss came without Brady at QB). 3-2 seems to be the number (and don’t tell me the Dolphins have a chance at home because they rallied back in week two against Jimmy Garoppolo). That would put them at 12-4, so definitely making the playoffs; we just have to determine if they will be the one or two seed.
The Red Shamrock will continue to hate the Patriots and Tom Brady no matter what!
Miami (7-4) Remaining Five Game Schedule
Everyone is pointing to the Dolphins schedule as a good chance to grab a Wild Card. I think the road is a lot tougher than people think. The Dolphins are 2-3 on the road this year and I have no reason to believe they can win in Baltimore. We’ll give them a win at home against the Cardinals and road wins against the Jets and Bills (not guaranteed either). That leaves the final game against the Patriots and their first meeting with Tom Brady this year. I don’t see them winning that game, so I’ll hope for 3-2 down the stretch to finish 10-6 and hopefully grab the Wild Card.
AFC West Oakland Raiders (9-2) leaders, Kansas City Chiefs -1, Denver Broncos -2
Ah, my man crush Derek Carr (and forgotten MVP candidate) and the Oakland Raiders. Currently 9-2 and would be the two seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today. The Raiders are currently one game up on the Chiefs and two games up on the Broncos. They are the projected two seed based on multiple tie breaking scenarios explained here.
Oakland (9-2) Remaining Five Game Schedule
The Raiders look to have the toughest road to hang on to their division. Only the Chargers and Colts are below .500 on their remaining schedule.
Kansas City (8-3) Remaining Five Game Schedule
The Chiefs are a game back and the Broncos are two games back, making this the best division race of the season in the NFL. We will give the Chiefs wins over the Broncos and Chargers, with losses to the Falcons, Raiders and Titans, making them 2-3 down the stretch, finishing 10-6 and grabbing a Wild Card.
Denver Broncos (7-4) Remaining Five Game Schedule
Like KC, Denver has a bit tougher schedule than the Raiders. We will give them wins over the Jaguars and Patriots, with losses at the Titans, Chiefs and hosting the Raiders making them 2-3 down the stretch as well finishing 9-6.
It’s going to be very difficult for Oakland to win in Kansas City and Denver, but they are 5-0 on the road this season. We will give them wins over the Bills, Chargers, Colts and/or Broncos/Chiefs with a lone loss on the road at Kansas City or Denver. For the Raiders, that’s 4-1 down the stretch, putting them at 12-4, locking down the two seed.
AFC North Baltimore Ravens (6-5) (tie breaker), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
This race should go down to the wire as well. Baltimore is currently ahead of the Steelers by way of the Ravens victory over the Ravens. Both teams are so-so on the road, so this one definitely comes down to schedule.
Baltimore (6-5) Remaining Five Game Schedule
I think this comes down to the home schedule as Pittsburgh has three home games remaining to Baltimore’s two. We’ll give the Ravens wins over the Dolphins, Eagles and Bengals with losses to the Patriots and Steelers. I’m predicting the Ravens to go 3-2 down the stretch to finish at 9-7.
Pittsburgh (6-5) Remaining Five Game Schedule
Pittsburgh should get wins over the Giants, Bengals, Ravens at home and the Browns. I’ll give them a road loss to Buffalo as they are a tough out, but I think they can go 4-1 for the rest of the year and steal the division at 10-6.
AFC South Houston Texans (6-5), Tennessee Titans -1, Indianapolis Colts -1
Call me crazy, but I think the Titans come out of this the division winners. They are currently one game back by way of playing one more game this year. Colts are in it just based on the numbers, but I don’t think anyone is going to give them a real shot. The Texans are struggling with Brock Osweiler at quarterback and a refusal to run Lamar Miller in some key situations. The Titans seem to be the most consistent team in this group currently.
Houston (6-5) Remaining Five Game Schedule
We can’t trust Brock Owseiler, can we? Let’s give the Texans wins at Indy, Jacksonville and the Bengals with losses at Green Bay and at Tennessee. 2-3 down the stretch to finish 8-8.
Tennessee (6-6) Remaining Five Game Schedule
I think everything is breaking Tennessee’s way. They are on the bye for week 13. I’ll give them a win hosting Denver, at Jacksonville and hosting the Texans with a loss at Kansas City. 3-1 down the stretch to finish 9-7.
Indianapolis (5-6) Remaining Five Game Schedule
Indy is still in this based on the math. I have them winning hosting the Texans and Jaguars, but losing at the Jets, Vikings and Raiders to finish 7-9. I think the Titans sneak away with the division.
Next week, we tackle the NFC playoff picture. Enjoy this week’s picks (all games have been listed this week!).
This week’s picks (home teams in CAPS)
Last week: 12-3-1
Season record: 93-75-9 (.551)
Pat Himes aka The Red Shamrock is a huge fan of sports, movies, poker, and fake sports betting. He is also cohost of The 80/20 Movie Show podcast with Gary Smith, which you can listen to for guy humor, movie reviews, and additional fake sports betting picks at www.fatherhoodrules.com. You can interact with Pat on Chaostrophic by hitting him up on the comments section with him on the threads under his handle, Dalux247.