NFL playoff picture: AFC South and West divisions

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  • NFL playoff picture: AFC South and West divisions

NFL playoff picture: AFC South and West divisions

After 12 weeks of play in the NFL, the playoff picture is slowly coming into focus, although in some divisions there is still much to be decided. Here we look at the AFC South and the AFC West.  

AFC South

The Indianapolis Colts have been one of the NFL’s best teams in recent years, winning their division in six of the past seven years, but this year they’re in a fight for first place with every other team in the division.

They’re tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for first place right now with identical 6-5 records, and the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans are both close with 5-6 records.

The Colts have three divisional games remaining, two of them against the Titans, and they are expected by many to win the AFC south with the best passing offence in the league. Quarter back Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and wide receiver, Reggie Wayne is on pace for one of his best seasons in the NFL.

The Jaguars have already beaten the Colts once this season, and if they can do it again when they play at Lucas Oil Stadium on 19 December they’ll be in a very good position to win the division themselves. They have the fourth ranked rushing offence in the league, and they’ll put the Colt’s 30th ranked rushing defence to the test when they meet.

The Texans have Philadelphia and Baltimore to go through which will make their hunt for the franchise’s first playoff spot difficult. The Titans are plagued with injury, mainly at quarterback, and are coming off a shutout loss to the Texans. Both teams can win the division, but they’re going to have a very difficult time doing it.

Only one team will make the playoffs from this division. The wild card spots will be taken by teams from the AFC East and North.

AFC West

Another division that won’t submit a wild card to this year’s playoffs is the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs have surprised the league with their 7-4 record while the Chargers surprised the league by stumbling out of the gate. The Chargers were 2-5 before winning four straight to improve to 6-5. The question in this division is whether or not the Chiefs can fend off the surging Chargers.

The Chiefs and Chargers face off on 12 December in a game which could decide the division. Kansas City beat the Chargers once already, 21-14 on 13 September. They needed a 94-yard punt return to win that game, and probably won’t get that when they next meet, but since that win, Kansas City has established the best rushing defence in the league, something that San Diego will not be taking for granted.

The Chargers on the other hand rank highly in almost every team statistic. Their early season losses had many scratching their heads, but they seem to have turned it around. Philip Rivers was on pace to become only the third person to break 5000 yards in a single season, but has trailed off in recent games. He can still pull off 5000 yards with games against teams with weak passing defences left on the schedule, but winning the division will take top priority to setting records.

The Chiefs weren’t the only surprise team of the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders also turned a few heads this season. They had won three straight before dropping the last two, and were looking like a team ready to challenge for the division when they beat the Chiefs on 7 November. Now they’re 5-6, but they have a 3-0 divisional record, and if they can beat the Chargers and Chiefs in their remaining games they could still find themselves in first place come January.

The Denver Broncos are 3-8 even though quarterback Kyle Orton is having a career season. They’re 31st in rushing offence and rushing defence, and they’re the worst team in the league in points allowed.  Looking at those numbers, it’s surprising they’ve managed to win three times.