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2023 NFL playoffs: Breaking down the ultimate AFC wild card contenders, with remaining schedules, predictions

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With just two weeks remaining within the 2022 regular season, the NFL playoff picture is on everyone’s minds. The highest teams within the AFC have the No. 1 seed to fight for, while others are still battling for division crowns, and the seven teams around .500ish are in the course of a really entertaining wild card hunt. 

Some teams control their very own destiny, while others need some help to grab a playoff berth. These next two weeks are all the time among the most entertaining within the NFL, so let’s take a take a look at the present state of the AFC because it stands entering Week 17. Which teams will make the postseason, and which of them will fall short?

AFC teams which have clinched a playoff berth

1. Buffalo Bills (12-3)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
5. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
6. Los Angeles Chargers (9-6)

There are two playoff berths available within the AFC, however it’s a bit more complicated than that. There’s only one wild card spot available, after which we still should determine the AFC South champion, which can be the No. 4 seed. 

Below is a take a look at the present AFC wild-card race in addition to predictions for each team still within the hunt for a postseason berth.

The four-seed Jaguars are surging, a lot in order that they now have a 74 percent probability to make the playoffs, in response to SportsLine. Trevor Lawrence didn’t throw a touchdown within the win against the Recent York Jets last week, but he did a fantastic job stringing together long drives despite the windy, rainy weather, and in addition showed he’s pretty effective at running the ball, too. The Jags are coping with some notable injuries, but I even have them winning the AFC South.

Interestingly enough, their Week 17 matchup against the Houston Texans doesn’t matter. It’s all about Week 18 vs. the Tennessee Titans. Win that matchup, they usually’re in. I feel that happens. 

Remaining schedule: at Texans (W), vs. Titans (W)
Final record:
9-8
Playoff prediction: AFC South champs, No. 4 seed

Not way back, the Dolphins looked like they were on their option to winning the AFC East. Now, we aren’t sure if they are going to even make the playoffs. Miami is on a four-game losing streak, and can leave the month of December without earning a victory. Not one of the 87 teams in NFL history that went winless in December before the Dolphins made the playoffs. The defense clearly has some issues, but everyone seems to be desirous about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at once.

Tagovailoa led the NFL in passer rating through 12 weeks, but has ranked No. 23 since this losing streak began. Miami’s quarterback is coming off a troublesome outing against the Green Bay Packers, as he threw three interceptions on back-to-back-to-back drives within the fourth quarter while the Packers scored 13 unanswered points within the second half to flee with a 26-20 victory. It was a tale of two halves, as Tagovailoa accomplished 9-of-12 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown in the primary two quarters before falling apart within the second half. Some hypothesized that he suffered a concussion within the second quarter after bouncing his head off the turf, and it appears they were right, as Tagovailoa is now in concussion protocol.

We do not know Tagovailoa’s status for Week 17 against the Recent England Patriots, which is big since the Patriots aren’t dead yet. With them being at home in Foxborough, that is a troublesome game for Miami. The Dolphins get the Jets in Week 18, in what could also be a win-and-you’re-in game. The Dolphins are a troublesome team to attempt to predict at once, but I’ll give them a loss this week, and a win at home vs. the rival Jets in what may very well be the sport of the week. 

Remaining schedule: at Patriots (L), vs. Jets (W)
Final record:
 9-8
Playoff prediction: No. 7 seed

8. Recent England Patriots (7-8)

The Patriots have lost 4 out of their past five games, which isn’t something you need to be doing late within the regular season. The offense still hasn’t been good, after which the defense has taken a step backwards as well. This Patriots’ pass defense began off the season as the most effective, but over the past five games Recent England has allowed a 70 percent completion rate, 11 touchdowns in comparison with just five interceptions and a median passer rating of 96.8. 

As we discussed above, Recent England could be very much alive with a win this week against Miami, but unfortunately, the Patriots get the Bills in Buffalo in Week 18. The Bills likely won’t be resting any starters since the No. 1 seed within the AFC will still be up for grabs. Bill Belichick misses the postseason for the second time in three years. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Dolphins (W), at Bills (L)
Final record:
 8-9
Playoff prediction: OUT

9. Recent York Jets (7-8)

The Jets have lost 4 straight, but get Mike White back within the starting lineup this week. He doesn’t exactly solve all the things, nonetheless, because the Jets defense has struggled recently. Recent York has recorded only one takeaway within the last 4 games. It was weird watching the Jaguars put together three straight scoring drives against the Jets, including a 16-play, 96-yard touchdown drive. 

I feel decent in regards to the Jets on the road against the struggling Seattle Seahawks, but a showdown against the explosive Dolphins in Miami in Week 18 with the season on the road may very well be tough. My gut tells me that No. 7 seed goes to come back right down to the Jets and Dolphins, and at once, I’m leaning toward the latter.  

Remaining schedule: at Seahawks (W), at Dolphins (L)
Final record:
 8-9
Playoff prediction: OUT

10. Tennessee Titans (7-8)

As soon because it was reported Ryan Tannehill would likely miss the remainder of the season, I went out and acquired my flowers for the Titans funeral. Clearly I didn’t overreact, because the Titans lost to the Texans at home in Week 16. Malik Willis has potential, but he’s still very, very raw.

It isn’t just the quarterback that is a difficulty for Tennessee, because the Titans are banged-up in every single place. The defense is injured in any respect three levels and the offensive line is a multitude. The Titans were the most-injured team within the NFL last 12 months, but still fought and earned the No. 1 seed within the AFC. This 12 months, they simply couldn’t overcome all the adversity. From 7-3 to potentially 7-10. Unreal. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Cowboys (L), at Jaguars (L)
Final record:
 7-10
Playoff prediction: OUT

I’m glad Kenny Pickett may lead a game-winning drive on what was a really special night in Pittsburgh, but overall, the Steelers didn’t look superb. At this point, it’s technically “possible” the Steelers make the playoffs, but unlikely. That Sunday night matchup against the Ravens can be interesting, as we do not know Lamar Jackson’s status yet. 

Remaining schedule: at Ravens (L), vs. Browns (W)
Final record:
 8-9
Playoff prediction: OUT

It’s too late for the Raiders. I like Derek Carr greater than most individuals probably do, but on Saturday night against the Steelers he looked … cold. Almost like he was looking forward to fourth down, so he could return to the sideline and placed on his coat. 

Possibly the Raiders can surprise the San Francisco 49ers in Vegas this week, but I still think it’s too little too late for this team. 

Remaining schedule: vs. 49ers (L), vs. Chiefs (L)
Final record:
 6-11
Playoff prediction: OUT

Final standings prediction

1. Buffalo Bills (14-3, AFC East winner)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3, AFC West winner)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (12-5, AFC North winner)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8, AFC South winner)

5. Baltimore Ravens (11-6, wild card)
6. Los Angeles Chargers (10-7, wild card)
7. Miami Dolphins (9-8, wild card)

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