Go Titans!! 5 down - 5 more to go! And thanks to the 49ers today, the Titans are one game closer to passing the Jags in the wild card race! I was asked to analyze the Titans' playoff chances this morning - I think it was the first time I've ever done that for a 4-6 team!
The way I see it is this: 10-6 "should" get an AFC team a wild card spot, and 9-7 is "iffy". There could be a few teams in that 9-7 bracket and it might come down to tie breakers. The Colts clinched the division today, so they are in. The Patriots should win the East. The North is still a bit up in the air, but the Bengals do have a 2 game lead, and looking at schedules have a good chance to win it. I am going to assume they do. Either the Chargers or Broncos will win the West. Both of those teams can easily go 10-6, possibly 11-5, so whichever one doesn't win the division should get a wild card spot.
The Browns, Bills, Chiefs, and Raiders are already out of it, and the Dolphins and Jets are on the verge of being out. So that basically leaves 5 teams - Titans, Texans, Jaguars, Steelers, and Ravens - to battle it out for the last playoff spot.
The Titans have two difficult games left, against the Colts and Chargers. If they win both, they should be in good shape to go 10-6. If they split, 9-7 drops them down into that "pack". The Jags and Texans play each other, and both have a game against the Colts still. They also both have a game against the Pats, but Houston gets them in the final game of the season - when the Pats may have nothing to gain/lose. Either of those teams could go 9-7, but doubtful either hits 10-6. Likely the Jags go 8-8 and out of the hunt, and possibly the Texans too depending on the Pats game.
The Ravens and Steelers are both 6-5. Baltimore has a tough game coming up against Green Bay, and a rematch with Pittsburgh. I think they are the most beatable of the teams in the hunt, and have the most chance of dropping a game they would be expected to win. I think 9-7 is the best they could do this year, with 8-8 being more likely. That leaves the Steelers to possibly play spoiler to the Titans playoff run! They have a tough game against Green Bay, and that same rematch against Baltimore - but the rest of theor schedule is fairly easy. I think they will beat Baltimore, since they should have had the game tonight - without Big Ben in the line-up! They have a chance to go 11-5, and even if they drop the game to Green Bay, they are in good shape to go 10-6.
It's amazing - the strength of the AFC! To think that if the Titans do win out, that they, the Steelers, and Broncos could all go 10-6, and one of them wouldn't make the playoffs.