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The Tomfoolery That Is The AFC Playoff Race: Part 2

Sure, there are some win and in scenarios. But the AFC playoffs wildcard spots could be clinched in some wild and crazy ways.

Allegiant Stadium by JediRich is licensed under CC BY 3.0

The Tomfoolery That Is The AFC Playoff Race: Part 2

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

The NFL playoffs used to be a 12-team affair. With the extended season and a new playoff format, 14 teams now have the opportunity to fly in the postseason. And this has been the year of “nobody seems to really want it”, as every time we think there’s a clear path to the Super Bowl for a team, they shoot themselves in both feet.

But we’ve talked about those who are already in on the AFC side. Now it’s time to dive into the five teams who are vying for the final two spots.

The Colts, Raiders, and Chargers are the most likely teams to punch their tickets. The Colts travel to Jacksonville while the Raiders host the Chargers in prime time on Sunday night. Pittsburgh will travel to Baltimore in a matchup best dubbing its winner’s chances as “Highly Unlikely, But Definitely Possible”.

The most absurd way things could turn out…

Okay, I realize that what I’m about to talk about is an absurdly unlikely scenario, but let’s dig into this banger of a scenario first.

First off, the Jags just got roasted by the Patriots. They have an interim coach, are playing RB3s as their top backs, and winning this game would likely boot them out of the number one pick in the 2022 draft. And that, to me, is what makes this delicious. Indianapolis has lost every game that Jonathan Taylor did not rush for at least 100 yards (and one that he did). If Jacksonville can somehow go all out in stopping the rush, forcing the game into Carson Wentz’ hands (LOL), they could actually pull this off. Indy could have sealed the deal last week, but lost at home to the Raiders. So it would be wild to watch them tumble right out of contention.

Now, that game is at 1PM. By then, the Raiders and Chargers will know that a tie would get them both into the playoffs. WHAT!? Yes. Yes, this is beautiful. The idea of both teams draining the clock for a 0-0 tie on Sunday Night Football to close out the season is next-level poetic justice for the NFL who has forced teams to play through COVID.

You’re probably asking yourself, well what about the Steelers and Ravens? In the above scenario, both are irrelevant. If Pitt were to win, Baltimore would be 8-9 and we’d have three teams at 9-7-1. That’s a crazy record to look at. But Pittsburgh lost to both the Raiders and Chargers, giving the AFC West teams the leg up and booking their tickets. If the Ravens were to win, LV and LA would edge them out by half a game.

Tell me you don’t want this to all transpire and I’ll call you a liar.

Okay, but if the Jaguars win and that game DOESN’T end in a tie?

Fine, be boring. Well, not boring, but I would love nothing more than the NFL to have to take a 0-0 primetime game to close out the season on the chin.

Anyway, if Jacksonville somehow does win, that opens the floodgates. The winner of the Raiders/Chargers game would clinch the six seed. But then the seventh could be any of the others.

If the Raiders win…

The Steelers would get in with a win (9-7-1). They would hop a half game ahead of both the Chargers (9-8) and Colts (9-8), and will have eliminated the Ravens (8-9).

The Ravens would be able to get in with a win, as they would move to 9-8 and hold the head to head tiebreaker over the Chargers and Colts.

The Colts are toast.

If the Chargers win…

The Steelers would get in with a win (9-7-1). They would hop a half game ahead of both the Raiders (9-8) and Colts (9-8) and will have eliminated the Ravens (8-9).

The Raiders (9-8) would get in with a Ravens win (9-8), as they would hold the head to head tiebreaker over both the Ravens and the Colts (9-8).

The Colts are toast.

But, more likely…

The Colts are going to roll over the Jaguars. And, in that case, a tie would not be good enough for the Chargers or Raiders. They’d have to play to a win to guarantee a spot. The Steelers and Ravens would both be eliminated automatically if the Colts win.

To Recap…

  • Indianapolis is in with a win.
  • Las Vegas is in with a win over the Chargers.
  • Los Angeles is in with a win over the Raiders.
  • Pittsburgh is in if they win, the Colts lose, and the Chargers/Raiders game does not end in a tie.
  • Baltimore is in if they win, the Colts lose, and the Raiders win.

Prediction: Colts and Chargers win and book their tickets to…somewhere against a division winner.

All scenarios in this article are based on the Playoff Picture data as well as the NFL Tiebreaking procedures as stated on

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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