The AFC playoff picture goes into the final weekend with two open spots. One of those spots belongs to an AFC South team, the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Tennessee Titans. However, there is one wildcard spot left and three teams battling for that spot, the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and possibly the Jacksonville Jaguars.
An Astounding AFC
With the NFL season ending, we have found out who will be competing for the final spots in the AFC. Two teams will have the opportunity to clinch the AFC South title and claim a place in the playoffs. However, the last and final spot belongs to one of the wildcard teams in the AFC, and it is narrowed down to three teams.
The Miami Dolphins have the best chance of clinching the final wildcard out of the three teams. According to Football Outsiders, the Miami Dolphins have a 48.9% chance to clinch the wildcard. The New England Patriots are next, with a 23.3% chance to clinch the wildcard. Last but not least is the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a 22.6% chance to win the final spot in the AFC wildcard this weekend.
A Motivated Miami
Miami going into the week with the best odds to clinch the wildcard will motivate this Dolphins team. This will be the first time they have been in the playoffs since the 2016 season. However, the Dolphins do not control their destiny; they will need to win against the New York Jets and the Patriots to lose to the Buffalo Bills.
What does Miami need to do to make their playoff dreams come to fruition? With the New York Jets struggling lately, the name of the game for the Dolphins should be to take care of the football. With Tua being ruled out this week, it will also come down to Teddy Bridgewater or Skylar Thompson. Regardless of who it is, possession of the football and limiting turnovers will win this game for the Dolphins.
The Notorious New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are in familiar territory, competing for a playoff spot. However, it’s different from what they have been used to for the last two decades; this will be for the final wildcard spot. Unlike the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots control their destiny. If they beat the Bills on Sunday, they will clinch the playoffs. However, if they lose, they will need some help. The Patriots would need the Dolphins to lose, the Steelers to lose, and the Jaguars to win against the Titans.
Beating the Buffalo Bills is a tall task, huge. New England has yet to be in peak form as of late; they have lost three of their last five games. To beat the Bills, the Patriots must play fantastic defense. The Patriots have the fifth-best defense regarding opponents scoring, so it’s not impossible. However, they rank 17th in points per game, and against the stingy Buffalo defense, that number will need to come up to compete with the Bills.
The Persistent Pittsburgh Steelers
Another year with Pittsburgh fighting for a playoff spot, familiar territory for them. The Steelers started the season 2-6 and have since roared back to become 8-8. The Steelers will need a lot of help on Sunday to make the playoffs. The Steelers will need to win against the Cleveland Browns, and they will need a Dolphins loss and a Patriots loss to clinch the wildcard.
The Steelers have been struggling offensively as of late. However, in their first meeting with the Browns, Mitch Trubisky was the quarterback. T.J. Watt was also out with an injury. Since that game, a ton has changed, Kenny Pickett is the quarterback for the Steelers, and T.J. Watt has returned from injury. Pittsburgh’s defense is a ton better with T.J. Watt back, which makes this game interesting. However, Deshaun Watson playing for the Browns this time could cause problems. If the Steelers offense is not scoring, it could be a heartbreaking loss for Pittsburgh.
With the Patriots having to play the Bills, I must say my favorite to clinch the last wildcard spot is the Miami Dolphins. They are playing the Jets at one of the best times; they are struggling offensively and have been a mess for the last couple of weeks. The Steelers should be the second favorite for that final wildcard spot, but I understand they are not because they would need multiple teams to lose.
If the Titans somehow beat the Jaguars on Sunday, the Jaguars could still clinch the wildcard with all three of the team above losing. However, the Jaguars should beat the Titans and secure the AFC South title.