LOS ANGELES, December 26, 2012 —The AFC Playoffs are dedicated to Jim Mora Sr. and his legendary tirade “Playoffs!?!”
With one week left in the NFL 2012 regular season, it is time to look at the various playoff scenarios. The top four division winners in each conference advance along with the top two non-division winners in each conference, the wild cards. The top two teams in each conference get a bye week to rest their players and get healthy while the lower seeds beat each other up in the opening round. The three and four seeds do not get the week off but their opening round games are at home. The wild cards are the five and six seeds, and they would have to win three road games to get to the Super Bowl, which has been done.
Here is the NFC picture. Now for the AFC.
The AFC picture is somewhat boring since the six playoff teams are already known. This rarely happens, but the only suspense will be where they will be seeded. Here is how things stand, and how they can shake out. In parentheses is who they play in the final week, whether at home or on the road.
1) 12-3 AFC South Champion Houston Texans (at 10-5 Colts)
2) 12-3 AFC West Champion Denver Broncos (Hosting 2-13 Chiefs)
3) 11-4 AFC East Champion New England Patriots (Hosting 7-8 Dolphins)
4) 10-5 AFC North Champion Baltimore Ravens (at 9-6 Bengals)
5) 10-5 AFC Wildcard Indianapolis Colts (Hosting 12-3 Texans)
6) 9-6 AFC Wildcard Cincinnati Bengals (Hosting 10-5 Ravens)
All of the divisions are clinched. So the only issue with the top four teams is the order. The Colts are locked into the # 5 seed and the Bengals are locked into the #6 seed. So even though both of them will be hosting hated rivals, they may sit all over their starters since they have nothing to play for. The big argument in this situation is “rest vs rust.” The risk is giving players the week off may make the team rusty. Yet given the brutal nature of football, it is better to not risk getting a player injured in a game that has zero effect on the playoff picture. So the Colts and Bengals might just play with their backup players.
Now let’s look at the top four seeds:
If the Texans win next week, they remain the top seed with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They are on the road against a good Colts team, but the Colts may just rest everybody.
If the Texans lose and the Broncos win, the Broncos would have the top seed. Denver hosts the worst team in football, and a loss would be one of the biggest upsets in football history.
Right now the Patriots are the three seed. They host a fairly weak division rival. If the Patriots win and either the Texans or Broncos lose, the Patriots would get the two seed and a first round bye. If the Patriots win and both the Texans and Broncos lose, all three teams would be 12-4. The Patriots would be the top seed with home field throughout the playoffs. The Texans would be the two seed with the other first round bye. The Broncos would drop to the three seed without the bye.
The Ravens right now are the four seed, but they cannot get a first round bye. If they win and the Patriots lose, the Ravens can move up to the three seed and drop the Patriots to the four seed. Given that neither team would have a first round bye, usually the difference between the three and four seeds never matters.
AFC: Everything stays the way it was, with the top four seeds all winning, even on the road against the two wild cards.
1) 13-3 Texans
2) 13-3 Broncos
3) 12-4 Patriots
4) 11-5 Ravens
5) 10-6 Colts
6) 9-7 Bengals
On the other end of the spectrum, the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars are both 2-13. Whoever finishes with the worst record in football gets the top pick in the April 2013 NFL Draft. Either way it will be an AFC Team.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian who is obsessed with the National Football League. There is no offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” When not watching football, his only other hobby is Republican, Jewish women. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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