AFC Outlook: Playoff Picture Clear

It only took until the end of week sixteen to get a clear view of the outlook of the 2004 playoff run. With the varied level of teams the seedings are an important aspect of a team?s chances at succeeding. Even though a team may have clinched a third seed, it could present match up problems that wouldn?t have been there at the fourth seed. Excuses though aren?t going to get a true champion anywhere, and playing your strengths over your weaknesses is ultimately going to be the decider in any contest. The seedings are all but stable locks and now is the fun part where we can break down all presentable future matchups.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the NFC.


1. Pittsburgh Steelers-
It?s great when a veteran quarterback can sit back and accept the fact he has lost his job to a youngster. This situation is developing in the same shape of the Brady-Bledsoe encounter, as Tommy Maddox has shown veteran leadership to help develop Maddox. Roeslinberger?s rib injury shouldn?t be a factor with him not having to play for three weeks. With the advanced treatment for an athlete he should be 100 percent or fully protected with a device. Hopefully with Ben going down, other teams will take notice to not leave their starters out on the field to long in week seventeen. With clinched spots, there is no need to risk your team?s season after coming this far.

2. New England
Keeping the spotlight off himself, Tom Brady quietly macks on and off the field. All of the AFC talk has constantly been about stellar rookie Ben Roeslinberger and Peyton Manning with his record year. With their controlled style of play, there isn?t a team that can beat them if Brady stays away from mistakes. Sure they?ve added a January running back, but will their injuries on defense hurt them in shootouts.

3. Indianapolis
Any quarterback that waves the punting team off the field you would think is a cocky player. It?s the exact opposite with Manning though as he just wanted to win, and that move just pumped up his team even more. He doesn?t give a damn about any records, and they?d be worthless to him if he doesn?t win the Super Bowl. Dan Marino will tell you himself, that?d he give up all his records for a Super Bowl. If you?re the Colts you can?t help but look ahead to the future possible matchup against the Patriots in the divisional round. It?s the team that has had Manning?s number, and will be an ultimate fight until the end.

4. San Diego
A loss usually doesn?t bestow confidence in a team, but the Chargers have to be somewhat high on themselves going into the playoffs. They may have collapsed in the fourth quarter, but at least they know that they can go into Indianapolis with extreme confidence. Another great factor is that they have one of the best coaches in NFL history on their side in Marty Shottenheimer. They?ll get a tough draw on wild card weekend with a game against the Jets. It may be a trap game but the Chargers just will prove to have too much offensive firepower than the Jets.

5. New York Jets
The Jets have had a successful year but it just seems like they don?t have any room or talent to be a deciding factor this season. Chad Pennington is already starting to get the label for not being able to win big games, and all you have to do is look at the Jets losses for evidence. Losses to New England twice, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh all of which are playoff teams or contenders is a standout statistic. Plus they?ve had a lot of close wins against weak teams. In all honesty there are a few teams that will be left out that would serve a better shot at knocking off the stronghold AFC teams. They?ll have an immediate exit in the wild card weekend against the Chargers.

6. Buffalo
The Bills will need the Colts to beat the Broncos, and win against the Steelers to get in. The deciding factor will be how much the Steelers and Colts coaches will play their starters. Hopefully Buffalo can get in because they would be able to do more damage than the Broncos. The Bills would be riding a seven game winning streak, and clinch the idea of making the playoffs ( November story). Willis McGahee is establishing the running game against every opponent, which has lead to Drew Bledsoe?s ability to hit rookie Lee Evans for nine touchdowns. The Bills 10-6 record is misleading considering they lost their first four games by close margins. Buffalo could definitely compete and have a great shot at knocking off the Colts in the wild card game.


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