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Tzimisce


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:41 pm    Post subject: State of the AFC Reply with quote

Five teams we can already consider eliminated:

Jaguars
Raiders
Bills
Texans
Steelers

Yes, the Steelers are tenacious, but let's face it, they're a bad football team. Not underachieving, not plagued by injuries, just bad. They have the 2nd worst turnover differential in the NFL and their problems with pass protection are as bad as they've ever been. Their remaining schedule is pretty harsh with games against the Lions, @Baltimore and @Green Bay [week 16]. Plus they still have one more against Cincinnati. There's just no realistic way they'll get to 9 wins.

Five teams I'd categorize as 'in the hunt', though precariously so:

Dolphins
Chargers
Titans
Ravens
Browns

The two from the AFC North are living on a razor's edge. The Ravens narrowly avoided a disaster against the Bengals that would've put them at 3-6 and effectively out of the hunt. They still sit at 4-5 with trips to Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago still on their schedule, as well as a week 16 game against a Pats team looking for payback. I don't see them getting into the postseason unless their offense somehow elevates itself back to its postseason '12 form, which seems unlikely, given how bad their offensive line has been all year. I'd classify them as OUT.

The Browns are, if nothing else, feisty. They're capable of winning low-scoring games, certainly. Their defense is 5th in the league in total yards and they're allowing a measly 6.0 yards per attempt through the air. Problem is, they also have one of the league's worst rushing attacks, and their QB [until the next injury] is Jason Campbell. Plus, their remaining schedule features road games against the Bengals, Pats and Jets. 8-8 is feasible for this team, but that won't be good enough to make the postseason. They're still a year away. OUT

The Titans just lost Jake Locker for the season, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick to hold down the fort, and they still have two games against the Colts and a trip to Denver on their schedule. And frankly, after losing to Jacksonville, I wouldn't be surprised to see them completely tank the rest of the way. OUT.

The Chargers' 4-5 record screams 'underachievement' to me. Their pythagorean w/l suggests the same. Philip Rivers is suddenly back to his all-pro form of 2008-2010 and as a team they've posted the 7th most yards in the league. Defensively they've struggled. Their opponent passer rating is the worst in the league and they have only 6 takeaways all season, which is also the worst in the league. However their games against Indianapolis suggested that they're capable of doing better.
The biggest problem for this team is that they failed to take advantage of a relatively soft early-season schedule, losing to the Texans, Titans, Raiders and Redskins. Now they face an uphill climb with two games remaining against Kansas City and a trip to Denver in week 15. My gut tells me that they'll pick off one of the KC matchups, which should leave them in good shape to finish 9-7 and take the #6 seed, but they'll need to play better on defense for that to happen.

The Dolphins are a mess, let's not kid ourselves. They might be sitting at .500 with a couple of impressive wins under their belt and a game against the winless Bucs tonight, but their locker room situation and the way they unraveled in the second half against the Pats suggest that they're not as good as their record indicates. Their offense is still one of the worst in the league. Ryan Tannehill has been dismal in the second half of games all year, and in the 4th quarter especially. If they get behind in games, which they likely will with matchups remaining against San Diego, Carolina and New England, they're not equipped to mount comebacks. And if they can't get turnovers, they can't win. 8-8 is this team's ceiling. And that's assuming Joe Philbin doesn't totally lose the locker room [if he hasn't already]. OUT.

That leaves us with the 6 teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

1. Kansas City
2. New England
3. Indianapolis
4. Cincinnati
5. Denver
6. NY Jets

The one team here that's really vulnerable is, of course, the Jets. They're 5-4 but a couple of bonehead opponent penalties away from being 3-6, and their pythagorean w/l is even worse [2.9-6.1]. They're -10 in turnover differential [3rd worst in the league] and despite strong showings against New England and New Orleans their pass defense sits at 21st in the league in opponent passer rating. Geno Smith's rookie season has been a roller coaster, and while he's shown great arm strength and above-average [for a rookie] accuracy, especially on downfield throws, he's still making a ton of typical rookie mistakes, which are bound to cost them at least a game or two down the line. Their remaining schedule is favorable, but a team like this is fully capable of losing against subpar opponents. Further complicating matters is that all of their losses so far have been within the conference, which will cost them if it comes down to a tiebreaker. Right now I have them pegged as out of the playoffs at 7-9, losing the 6th seed to San Diego though they can definitely prove me wrong.

So we're left with the question of seeding. The most interesting battle is, of course, between Denver and Kansas City. Great offense versus great defense, with both head-to-head matchup still to come. It's easy to pooh-pooh an offense led by Alex Smith with a mediocre group of receivers versus one led by Peyton Manning, but we've seen Manning struggle greatly in years past against elite defenses, especially ones that run a 3-4 base as the Chiefs do. KC also excels at creating turnovers and has the league's best pass rush, which can definitely take advantage of Chris Clark filling in for Ryan Clady at LT. I think ultimately the two teams will split head-to-head, with each winning at home. So basically it'll come down to who does better against their other remaining opponents. KC has the more favorable schedule, with the toughest opponent being Indanapolis at home - a game I expect them to win handily. Buuuuuut KC have looked vulnerable at times against lesser opponents this year, so I do think they'll drop a game in which they're favored. My money would be on the game @Washington, in the wake of the home game against the Broncos. Denver still has to go into New England, and that's a game that'll come down to whether the Pats' offense has righted itself to the extent that it can match Denver's onslaught point-for-point, which I don't think it will be able to. So we might well end up with a 14-2 wild card team this year thanks to tiebreakers.

The Pats are in the driver's seat right now for the #2 seed right now, with a favorable schedule. Going into Baltimore is always tough but the Ravens offense is a mess this year so I think they'll be able to win a low-scoring contest. The toughest remaining games are the next two, @Carolina and Denver. Like I said, everything hinges on how much progress the offense has actually made. But I can definitely see this team finishing a strong 12-4.
The Bengals have tough contests remaining @San Diego and home against the Colts. I think they'll split those but lose a couple of the games they're supposed to win - my guess would be next week against Cleveland and @Pittsburgh. I'm looking at 10-6 and the #4 seed for them.

The Colts are resilient, so I expect them to bounce back from being embarrassed at home by the Rams. @Cincinnati and @KC both look like losses on their remaining slate, but I see them matching last year's 11-5 mark and holding the #3 spot, but then losing in the WC round at home to San Diego [just like old times].

Projected seeding:

1. Denver [14-2]
2. New England [12-4]
3. Indianapolis [11-5]
4. Cincinnati [10-6]
5. Kansas City [14-2]
6. San Diego [9-7]
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ChazStandard


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was going to disagree with you about Indy, saying that 11-5 is a flattering prediction for team that looked so dreadful yesterday. But...they've got 4 more games against a division that just seems to get worse and worse so I guess it's pretty doable. Somebody's gotta win the AFC South.

Like you said, they'll probably go out in the WC round. They can't run the ball and without Wayne that offense is frightening nobody.

I really hope you're wrong about the West. Would love the Chiefs to sweep the Broncos.
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mcmurtry86


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're projecting San Diego to go 5-2 against this schedule:

at Miami
at Kansas City
vs. Cincinnati
vs. NY Giants
at Denver
vs. Oakland
vs. Kansas City

I guess it's possible given how bad the Giants and Oakland are. But the Chargers D is horrific. 31st in yards per pass play, 29th in yards per rush attempt and 32nd in takeaways. They're amazingly 13th in points allowed thanks to one of the best opposing starting field positions in the league but it's a bad unit. I think a split of the KC/DEN/CIN games is unlikely unless KC has nothing to play for week 17.

I think it's much more likely that the Jets go 4-3 against this schedule:

at Buffalo
at Baltimore
vs. Miami
vs. Oakland
at Carolina
vs. Cleveland
at Miami

Assuming they lose in Carolina, I think 4-2 against the rest is feasible. Miami and Cleveland will be dead in the water most likely in late December and winning 2 of their next 4 seems quite likely.

I'd probably peg both New York and San Diego as 8-8. The Ravens and Dolphins both have much harder schedules so I'd say they're almost out of contention (though Flacco is capable of going on a run like we saw last year).
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Tzimisce


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the Chargers' defense will do a better job of keeping them in games as the year plays out simply because they face a bunch of run-heavy offenses in that span. Miami, KCx2 and Oakland are all games in which their pass defense shouldn't be as much of an issue, and the Giants are so bad at pass protection [despite what the numbers suggest] that they should be able to tee off against Eli with their pass rush.

I just don't trust the Jets. They're too turnover-prone on offense and their defense only seems to show up every other week.
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mcmurtry86


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tzimisce wrote:
I think the Chargers' defense will do a better job of keeping them in games as the year plays out simply because they face a bunch of run-heavy offenses in that span. Miami, KCx2 and Oakland are all games in which their pass defense shouldn't be as much of an issue, and the Giants are so bad at pass protection [despite what the numbers suggest] that they should be able to tee off against Eli with their pass rush.

I just don't trust the Jets. They're too turnover-prone on offense and their defense only seems to show up every other week.


The Chargers can't really stop the run either. They have the most offensive talent amongst the wild card contenders but I just can't buy 5-2 out of that remaining schedule.

That said, maybe 8-8 is good enough this year. That would be amusing - the two wild card teams being 14-2 and 8-8 respectively. Talk about a huge advantage for the #3 seed over #4.
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PoWww


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So we're in the driver seat for the #2 seed, with the #1 seed being a long shot.

Our remaining schedule:
@ Houston
vs. Cleveland
@ Miami
@ Ravens
vs. Bills

Winning out is possible, but I see us slipping up in one of those games. The Chiefs and Broncos play next week and the winner of that game will be in the driver seat for the #1 seed.
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Tzimisce


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ended up with Miami getting the #6 seed in my playoff machine thingy. Confused
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patsfan06


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PoWww wrote:
So we're in the driver seat for the #2 seed, with the #1 seed being a long shot.

Our remaining schedule:
@ Houston
vs. Cleveland
@ Miami
@ Ravens
vs. Bills

Winning out is possible, but I see us slipping up in one of those games. The Chiefs and Broncos play next week and the winner of that game will be in the driver seat for the #1 seed.


The #1 seed is hardly a long shot. We aren't favorites, but a long shot implies that a lot has to happen for that to play out when that isn't the case. Just one thing needs to happen. The Pats need to win 1 more game than the Broncos.
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Dalton


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

patsfan06 wrote:
PoWww wrote:
So we're in the driver seat for the #2 seed, with the #1 seed being a long shot.

Our remaining schedule:
@ Houston
vs. Cleveland
@ Miami
@ Ravens
vs. Bills

Winning out is possible, but I see us slipping up in one of those games. The Chiefs and Broncos play next week and the winner of that game will be in the driver seat for the #1 seed.


The #1 seed is hardly a long shot. We aren't favorites, but a long shot implies that a lot has to happen for that to play out when that isn't the case. Just one thing needs to happen. The Pats need to win 1 more game than the Broncos.


And the Chiefs.
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dhunt2402


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

patsfan06 wrote:
PoWww wrote:
So we're in the driver seat for the #2 seed, with the #1 seed being a long shot.

Our remaining schedule:
@ Houston
vs. Cleveland
@ Miami
@ Ravens
vs. Bills

Winning out is possible, but I see us slipping up in one of those games. The Chiefs and Broncos play next week and the winner of that game will be in the driver seat for the #1 seed.


The #1 seed is hardly a long shot. We aren't favorites, but a long shot implies that a lot has to happen for that to play out when that isn't the case. Just one thing needs to happen. The Pats need to win 1 more game than the Broncos.


Or the same amount of games, as we own the tiebreaker
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patsfan06


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dhunt2402 wrote:
patsfan06 wrote:
PoWww wrote:
So we're in the driver seat for the #2 seed, with the #1 seed being a long shot.

Our remaining schedule:
@ Houston
vs. Cleveland
@ Miami
@ Ravens
vs. Bills

Winning out is possible, but I see us slipping up in one of those games. The Chiefs and Broncos play next week and the winner of that game will be in the driver seat for the #1 seed.


The #1 seed is hardly a long shot. We aren't favorites, but a long shot implies that a lot has to happen for that to play out when that isn't the case. Just one thing needs to happen. The Pats need to win 1 more game than the Broncos.


Or the same amount of games, as we own the tiebreaker


No, we need to win one more than them cause they have 9 wins right now. We have 8.
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patsfan06


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dalton wrote:
patsfan06 wrote:
PoWww wrote:
So we're in the driver seat for the #2 seed, with the #1 seed being a long shot.

Our remaining schedule:
@ Houston
vs. Cleveland
@ Miami
@ Ravens
vs. Bills

Winning out is possible, but I see us slipping up in one of those games. The Chiefs and Broncos play next week and the winner of that game will be in the driver seat for the #1 seed.


The #1 seed is hardly a long shot. We aren't favorites, but a long shot implies that a lot has to happen for that to play out when that isn't the case. Just one thing needs to happen. The Pats need to win 1 more game than the Broncos.


And the Chiefs.


Or the Chiefs. Broncos and Chiefs play each other one more time meaning one of them is going to lose at least one more. And after next week if the Pats win they will hold the tiebreaker over whichever team is 9-3.

The Key is the Pats need to win which is the hard part. But we did get through the meat of the schedule.
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Tzimisce


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing but true: the Bills are still very much alive.
They have, I think, the easiest remaining schedule in the league and there's a scenario where, if the Pats are locked into the #2 seed, they could rest their starters in week 17 and give the Bills a path of least resistance to 9-7.
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mcmurtry86


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The most plausible scenario for the #1 seed is for Denver to lose to KC next week, KC to lose to one of their remaining AFC teams (San Diego/Oakland/Indianapolis) and the Patriots to run the table.

If the Pats end up 12-4 there's almost no realistic way they end up with the 1 seed barring both of the AFC West teams slumping.
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