Power Rankings and Playoff Hopes

ESPN has their post draft power rankings up. It's here:

They have Buffalo at #19, behind 7 AFC teams and 12 NFC teams. Evidently, ESPN no longer believes that the NFC is the weaker of the two conferences. To focus on what matters (i.e. Buffalo playing in January) let's take a look at the 7 AFC teams ranked ahead of Buffalo.

Patriots: Look for them to go no worse than 5-1 in the AFC East games. The won't go any worse than 4-1 in their other home games (Broncos, Chiefs, Steelers, Rams, Cards). Even if they're bitten by the Super Bowl Loser Curse I can't see them going any worse than 3-2 in their non-division away games (Chargers, Raiders, Colts, 49ers and Seahawks). They should finish somewhere between 12-4 and 16-0. They're a mortal lock to win the AFC East (unless a meteor slams into their practice facility) and occupy one of the 6 playoff spots.

Colts: They play in perhaps the toughest division in football, and certainly the toughest in the AFC. Let's call it 3-3 in their division games. They should go no worse than 4-1 in their other home games (Ravens, Bengals, Pats, Bears, Lions) and no worse than 3-2 in their non-division away games (Browns, Steelers, Chargers, Vikings, Packers). That's 10-6 but more likely 11-5 or 12-4. Even if they don't hold the division title, they're pretty much a shoo in for one of the two Wild Card spots.

Chargers: The AFC West is almost as much of a mess as the AFC East and the Chargers are clearly the best team in the division. They should be at least 4-2 in their division games. They've got some tough home games (Pats, Jets, Colts, Falcons, Panthers) but should win at least 3 of them. Their road games (Bills, Dolphins, Steelers, Saints, Bucs) should be a bit easier and they should win at least 3 of those as well. 10-6 should be more than enough to win the AFC West and take the third playoff spot.

Jaguars: The Jags may be able to grind down the Colts this season and win the division. I'm betting they go 4-2 in their division games. Their other home games (Browns, Steelers, Bills, Packers, Vikings) look tough on paper but the Jags beat down the Steelers twice last season (not to mention smacking around the Bills) so they should win at least 3 of those games. Their slate of non-division away games (Ravens, Bengals, Broncos, Lions Bears) seems tailor made for a 5-0 sweep. With 12 wins as the basement they'll take a Wild Card slot if they don't win the division.

Steelers: They should storm through their division, winning no less than 5 of those games. They've got a brutal home slate (Texans, Colts, Chargers, Cowboys, Giants) but should still win 3 of those games....though don't ask me which. Their non-division road games (Jags, Titans, Eagles, Redskins, Patriots) are just as bad. Even so, I can see them winning at least 2 of those. That puts them at 10-6. Not only that, with everyone else in the division being smacked around by most of the same teams, even if they go 9-7 or 8-8 they would probably still win the division.

Browns: I'm not as high on the Browns as some people seem to be. My guess is that they do no better than 3-3 in the division this season. Their non-division home games (Texans, Colts, Broncos, Cowboys, Giants) might make their fans reconsider buying season tickets this year. My prediction for that series of games is 1-4. Their non-division road games (Jags, Titans, Bills, Eagles, Redskins) may have the fans calling for Romeo's head. Those 5 games could all turn ugly, though I don't see them dropping all 5. 1-4 seems far more likely. 5-11 (or even 8-8 if things go really well) won't get them to the post season. It's nice to see some other team slapped with a brutal schedule...

Titans: They're kind of a mystery. One week Vince Young lights up the scoreboard and the next the entire team seems like they're in a funk. They do play their division foes tough (Ask the Jags about the almost 300 yards in rushing the Titans hung on them.) so they'll win at least 3 of those games. Their other home games (Browns, Steelers, Jets, Packers, Vikings) aren't backbreakers and they should win at least 2 of them. Their non-division away games (Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Bears, Lions) must have Jeff Fischer quite literally salivating. They should run the table and go 5-0, putting the Flaming Thumbtacks at 10-6.

Bills: I'm already on record predicting a 9-7 finish for the Bills.

If my prognostications are more like those of Nostrodamus than those nuts who predict the end of the world in 3 weeks the playoff picture should be:

Division winners: Pats, Colts (chance Jags could get it), Steelers, Chargers

Wild Card: Jags (or Colts if Jags win division), Thumb Tacks.

I guess we should hope for that meteor, or at least for most of the Pats' players to eat some tainted shellfish and be out for several weeks.... Other than that, it seems unlikely that Buffalo will compile enough wins to qualify for a Wild Card slot--particularly if Buffalo loses to Jacksonville.

Oh, and I hate to admit it, but the Jets could be a Wild Card threat themselves. They've got a soft schedule and a bunch of free agents. If they pan out the Jets could make some noise. I, of course, am hoping the only noise they generate is bickering and backstabbing in the locker room about who got what fat contract.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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