For the AFC, most of the divisions are starting to shape up. Although the top seeds keep changing, the division leaders have not. Some teams could surprise you by the end of the season. Tough schedules, young quarterbacks and banged up defenses don’t always hold up.
2018 Division Leaders! (Through Week 12) pic.twitter.com/6FaRAh50MP
— NFL (@NFL) November 27, 2018
The wild card teams are the Los Angeles Chargers at 8-3 and the Baltimore Ravens are 6-5. One team, the Indianapolis Colts, sit on the bubble at 6-5 as well. Four other teams including the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans are fighting for their playoff life at 5-6.
Here are a couple changes that might just blow your mind.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is the top seed with only two losses the season- the Patriots and the Rams. They face their division rivals the Oakland Raiders twice as well as Baltimore. But they face the Seattle Seahawks and their other rival the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Chargers lost to the Chiefs earlier in the season, but have not lost much since then. They just took a shocking loss to the Broncos but Phillip Rivers is having an MVP season. They will most likely have Melvin Gordon back by then and defensive end Joey Bosa has finally returned.
The Seahawks are on the bubble of getting into the playoffs as a wild card. Their running game is hot and Russel Wilson is unstoppable in the fourth quarter. They are a hard team to beat at home and the Chiefs are forced to face this team in Seattle.
The Chiefs are hot, but took a loss at home Week 11. Mahomes has held up, but will crumble at the end of the season. The two losses they will take to the Chargers and the Seahawks will knock them out of the first round bye and force them to play during the wildcard weekend.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are always on top. It is hard to remember the last time they weren’t a part of the first round bye. Their first two losses of the season didn’t come as a shock because that is how they always start their season, but their loss to the struggling Tennessee Titans in Week 10 came as a big shock. With an 8-3 record, they sit as the second seed in the AFC.
With three inner division games left, they will most likely pull out the wins. This week, they travel back home to face the Minnesota Vikings. They are a team that has a hot quarterback and, as of right now, a top-five receiver in Adam Thielen. This team is sitting in the wild card spot and the last thing they want is to give up that spot. They are trying to catch the Bears for the division and need to keep winning. they are strong and their defense is getting back to the defense it was last year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled but are a completely different team when they are home. The Steelers are a team that has Antonio Brown, James Connor and a good defense.
The Patriots will fall to the Vikings at home and to the Steelers at Heinz Field. With the two losses, they will most likely end 11-5 and be forced to play during the wild card week for the first time since 2009.
The Houston Texans have been the team that everyone has slept on all season. They started 0-3 then turned their season right around winning eight straight. Lamar Miller has been a standout running back, Deandre Hopkins is outstanding and able to catch practically anything that is thrown to him. The addition of Demaryius Thomas was a perfect fit and was proven last Sunday in their game against the Titans. Deshaun Watson has been able to break tackles when running and escapes sacks that most quarterbacks couldn’t. This team is the third seed right now at 8-3 and is a comfortable two game ahead of the Colts.
Their remaining schedule is highly in the Texans favor. At home, they face the Browns, the Colts and the Jaguars. Away, they leave Texas to face the Giants and the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles.
Andrew Luck has been hot, he hasn’t been sacked in five weeks and has thrown three or more touchdown passes in eight straight games. This game will be hard but the home crowd will give the Texans the push they need to take the win. Their defense includes two of the best linebackers in the game.
The last five weeks will mostly be a breeze for Houston. They will win the last five taking their winning streak to 13. Houston will end their season 13-3 and sitting pretty in one of the top two spots in the AFC, surpassing the wild card weekend.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers ended their winning streak in week 11, losing to their division rivals the Denver Broncos. Yet, they are still a team to look out for. They boast a record of 8-3 and are only one game behind the Chiefs, looking to sneak up and take the division win.
Their schedule has some strong teams but the return of Joey Bosa will strengthen their defense. It’s possible that their star running back Melvin Gordon will be back by the time they face their division rival the Chiefs. If he hasn’t returned yet, their back up running back, Austin Ekeler, will be able to do more than enough to keep their running game alive. Rivers has been hot. Last week, he completed 96.9% of his passes for 259 yards.
The Chargers have the chance to run over the Steelers, Bengals, Chiefs, Ravens and Broncos. If they stay hot and run the table, this LA team will end 13-3 and along with the Texans hold one of the top two seeds in the AFC as well as bypassing the wild card weekend.