2013 NFL Power Rankings, Week 13 Edition
In the top-heavy AFC, the Broncos (11/10) and then Patriots (11/5) are prohibitive favorites to represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.
That said, there are a number of teams in contention to just get a ticket to the dance and then who knows what will happen from there.
As it stands, six AFC teams are tied with a record of 5-6 for the final wild card spot and three more teams are only one game behind that group.
With the exception of the Jaguars and the Texans, both 2-9, every other AFC team has a legitimate shot to be playoff bound in January.
Which team will secure the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs?
Kevin Hanson (follow on Twitter):
When looking at the standings, one of the first things that stood to me was that the Chargers have already played seven road games, which means four of their five remaining games are at home. That said, they face a several playoff-bound opponents (Broncos, Chiefs and Bengals) in addition to the Giants, who have played better over the past month, and the division-rival Raiders.
Therefore, I'm going to say that the Steelers will secure the No. 6 seed in the AFC as they have been playing much better. If they are able to beat the Ravens on Thursday night (and I think there is a good chance that happens), they will hold the tie-breaker over the Ravens. Then with a mini-bye down the stretch, three of their final four games will be at home.
On a three-game winning streak, the Steelers are playing better defense allowing only 48 points combined in those three games. In addition, the offense is firing on all cylinders as the Steelers have scored a minimum of 23 points in each of their past four games and are averaging 29.5 points per game during that span.
John Trifone (follow on Twitter):
The sixth seed in the AFC is anybody's guess right now. Every team in the conference is still alive for the spot, other than the Texans and Jaguars, so who knows what kind of tie-breakers we'll need to consider down the stretch.
I think the three teams that are playing the best and look like they could sneak in are the Steelers, the Chargers, and the Dolphins. My answer to who will come out of it could change as early as this weekend, but for now, I'll say that Pittsburgh plays their way in.
They have a lot of veteran experience, a good coach, and a culture of winning. They started off so poorly, and the fact that they're in a position where they can still make the playoffs, I think they might just take advantage.
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Sean Beazley (follow on Twitter):
The only way to actually predict who will make the playoffs is to pick the rest of the games and know how the tie-breakers work. Thankfully, ESPN.com has their playoff machine up where it will do all the dirty work for you.
If you think talking about a 5-6 team making the playoffs is crazy, I picked every game for the rest of the year, and I have a team that is 5-9 at the end of Week 15 making the playoffs. It just ended up that way and the answer is the Tennessee Titans.
I wouldn't count them out in the division race yet either. If they beat the Colts this week, and beat Arizona at home, which is a possibility, they could finish 9-7. The way Indianapolis looked this past week and two weeks ago against the Rams, anything could happen.
The way this playoff scenario unfolds is Tennessee has a win-and-you're-in game Week 17 at home vs. Houston. If the Titans lose, the winner of the Browns-Steelers game wins the tie-breaker at 7-9 and makes the playoffs.
My projected finish for current 5-6 teams:
- Titans (7-9): Wins - Jacksonville and Houston; Losses - Indianapolis, Denver and Arizona
- Ravens (7-9): Wins - Pittsburgh and Minnesota; Losses - Detroit, New England and Cincinnati
- Steelers (7-9): Wins - Miami and Cleveland; Losses - Baltimore, Cincinnati and Green Bay
- Chargers (7-9): Wins - NY Giants and Oakland; Losses - Cincinnati and Denver (twice)
- NY Jets (7-9): Wins - Miami and Oakland; Losses - Miami, Carolina and Cleveland
- Miami (6-10): Wins - NY Jets; Losses - NY Jets, Pittsburgh, New England and Buffalo
Dan Yanotchko (follow on Twitter):
This year, the No. 6 seed for the AFC is wildly up for grabs, and right now the Ravens, Steelers, Dolphins, Titans, Raiders, Chargers and the Jets could lay claim to the final spot. This is such a logjam, and it will inevitably come down to tiebreakers, which puts the Titans in the driver's seat.
The Titans already hold wins over the Steelers, Chargers, and Jets and they still have remaining games with the Jaguars and Texans. I like the Titans to prevail, as they have a decent passing attack with Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, and of course, the rushing attack led by Chris Johnson.
I am taking the team that has the best hand right now, as I don't forsee any of the other teams in play getting more wins than the Titans to overcome their tiebreakers.