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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Playoffs coming into focus...

The AFC Playoff situation came into a little more focus today with Denver locking up the 2nd Seed and a bye week with their victory over Oakland and Jacksonville clinching a Wild-Card spot with their victory over Houston.

That leaves only a few somewhat unresolved situations in the AFC picture.

Pittsburgh has not locked up their playoff spot, but with Detroit on their schedule for the last game of the year, chances are very good that they will be in. At this point, The Steelers would have to have a complete meltdown and lose a home game to the 5-10 Lions to blow their playoff chances. Highly unlikely.

Meanwhile, showing a bit of inexperience (or immaturity depending on your inclination), Cincy blew their game against the Bills today, losing 37-27. Now the Bengals will go into Arrowhead next week to face a very good K.C. team that will be playing for its playoff life in an absolute must win situation. That will be a very tough game for Cincy.

I thought K.C. was all done but surprisingly, they knocked off San Diego today and kept their playoff hopes alive, though their chances of getting into the post-season are in critical condition at this point. K.C. needs a win and a Steeler loss. With Pittsburgh getting an easy opponent in Detroit next week, it's highly unlikely that K.C. will get in. However, if K.C defeats Cincy in their last gasp effort for a shot at the playoffs, the door will be open for The Pats to take the #3 seed with a win over Miami.

Of course, that scenareo is all predicated on The Pats winning their game on Monday Nite vs. The Jets.

The Pats should be able to win against The Jets without too much difficulty, but when facing off against a divisional opponent, I am always wary of putting a check next to the W column before the game is actually played.

I continue to find myself asking the question, would moving into the 3rd seed even benefit The Pats? I still tend to think the answer is no because that would mean the Pats would then face either The Steelers or, potentially, K.C. I'd rather face Jacksonville than either one of those teams.

Jacksonville is not to be taken lightly. They have beaten some good teams this year, with wins over Seattle, Cincy and Pittsburgh, but those wins were all early in the season. If you look at their schedule since their bye week, you'll see they had about as weak a schedule as you could ask for. When they went up against a high quality team, The Colts, The Jags made it somewhat competitive, but in the end could they not hang with the Big Boys.

The Jags play in a comfortable, warm weather environment and have had an incredibly easy schedule for the last few months. I think those two factors will leave Jacksonville unprepared to go into The Razor and face a team like the Patriots in their element with a playoff win on the line. For this reason, I'm hoping the playoff situation will remain unchanged, with The Pats keeping the #4 seed.

That Cincy / K.C game could be a big game next week in determining the final playoff picture...



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