AFC Playoff Hunt: Raiders, Patriots, Ravens on Bubble

Behold! The NFL playoff hunt begins! Seven AFC teams will advance to the postseason with three wild-card spots available, and three teams sitting on the bubble: the Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, and the New England Patriots.

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New England Patriots QB Cam Newton and Bill Belichick find themselves in a tough spot on the AFC Wild Card bubble.

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New England Patriots QB Cam Newton and Bill Belichick find themselves in a tough spot on the AFC wild-card bubble. (Image: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0) have yet to lose a game and top the AFC standings. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Steelers would hold the #1 seed. The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs would earn the #2 seed.

Last season, the Tennessee Titans advanced as far as the AFC Championship game before their sizzling run ended.

The Buffalo Bills advanced to the postseason twice in the past three seasons, but were bounced out of the wild-card round. The Bills Mafia hasn’t celebrated a playoff victory in 25 years.


2020 AFC PLAYOFFS STANDING
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-0
  2. Kansas City Chiefs 10-1
  3. Tennessee Titans 8-3
  4. Buffalo Bills 8-3
  5. Cleveland Browns 8-3
  6. Miami Dolphins 7-4
  7. Indianapolis Colts 7-4

The Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Indianapolis Colts currently hold AFC wild-card spots. The Browns last advanced to the postseason in 2003 and are on the cusp of ending a 16-season drought.

The Miami Dolphins made the postseason only twice since 2002 with two wild-card losses in 2008 and 2016. The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa in hopes he could make them into contenders again. But the QB combination of FItzMagic and Tua has resulted in seven wins and a #6 seed.

AFC Bubblicious

The Las Vegas Raiders are attempting to secure a postseason spot in their inaugural season in Sin City. Since 2003, the Raiders qualified for the playoffs only once, but lost in the 2016 AFC wild-card round. The Raiders have three upcoming games against losing teams, including the winless Jets (0-11), LA Chargers (3-8), and Denver Broncos (4-7).

The Raiders are a 45% chance to advance to the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight. Jon Gruden’s squad holds a tiebreaker over the Ravens with a better conference record.

The Ravens dropped three-straight games and slipped to third place in the AFC North. Aside from a smashmouth divisional tilt against the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens have a good shot at the wild-card, as they will face four losing opponents, including the Dallas Cowboys (3-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10), New York Giants (4-7), and Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1).


AFC PLAYOFFS – WILD-CARD BUBBLE
  • Las Vegas Raiders 6-5
  • Baltimore Ravens 6-5
  • New England Patriots 5-6

Can Bill Belichick keep his postseason streak alive? The New England Patriots won three out of their last four, but they’ll have to run the table if they expect to secure an AFC wild-card spot. The Pats have three tough remaining games against probable playoff teams, including the LA Rams (7-4), Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills.

“Hopefully we can continue to play good football on offense, defense and special teams, and have a chance of being competitive this week and moving forward,” Belichick told NESN.

The Pats also get to play the three-win Chargers in LA and the lowly LOL Jets in Week 17. FiveThirtyEight’s bubble assessment has Belichick and the Patriots as a 13% probability to advance to the wild-card playoffs.

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