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AFC Breakdown: Raiders Are Super Bowl Contenders

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The AFC is finished for Week 11. Here is the current playoff picture and breakdown:

  1. Steelers, 10-0
  2. Chiefs, 9-1
  3. Bills, 7-3
  4. Colts, 7-3
  5. Wild Card 1: Titans, 7-3
  6. Wild Card 2: Browns, 7-3
  7. Wild Card 3: Raiders, 6-4

The 10-0 Steelers are going to lose a game. It’s going to happen. Perhaps, as soon as this week to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night. That said, expect Pittsburgh to hold on to the 1st seed. Losing two of three to the Ravens, Bills, and Colts is the Steelers’ worst case, which is a stretch. But if that’s so, only the Chiefs, with one loss, can knock them out of 1st. 

Kansas City’s big win Sunday night just about ensures them the AFC West. That’s the positive. Their defense is the negative. Derek Carr embarrassed the Chiefs’ defense. Twice this season, Kansas City has turned Carr into Patrick Mahomes. The defending champs have similarly failed to stop other reasonable 2020 QBs. Kansas City’s “statement” win, crushing the Ravens, no longer looks like much of a statement.

The Chiefs have the Bucs, Saints, Dolphins, and Chargers on their remaining schedule. Their declining defense puts the No. 2 seed at risk with four AFC Teams at 7-3 (Chiefs hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills).

Both the AFC South and AFC East are essentially 50-50 divisions. Titans-Colts play Week 12, while Bills-Dolphins end the season in Week 17. Those matchups could decide both divisions, which to use a familiar phrase, are currently too close to call.

The AFC’s Wild Card race is fascinating. Each conference has an extra spot this season, and in the AFC, at least two playoff-caliber rosters will still miss out. 

I’m banking on the Raiders securing a Wild Card. Las Vegas can beat any team, anywhere. Their potential mirrors last year’s Titans, who as underdogs, knocked off the Patriots, 14-2 Ravens, and led the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. What’s more, Derek Carr might be as good as any AFC QB not named Patrick Mahomes. And against Kansas City, he’s as good as Mahomes. The Raiders, not Steelers, are the team the Chiefs fear in the postseason.

Vegas is making the playoffs and has a chance to advance to the Super Bowl.

The Ravens, Browns, Titans/Colts, and Bills/Dolphins will compete for the remaining two Wild Cards. If Tennessee loses the AFC South, it should be favored for one. Baltimore has the best roster among the options but has unfixable issues on offense.

Division winners are crossing their fingers that the Browns make it in…

*NFC breakdown coming this week.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

5 Comments

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  1. you Raiders fans are funny. It was a great game, but we all knew once Mahomes got the ball back at the end it was over. I remember last year the Chiefs and Raiders were both ~6-4 and ol’ David Carr predicted the Raiders would win out and the Chiefs would lose out – lol, how’d that work out? Raiders play their best against KC, no doubt, but until proven otherwise, the NFL is still Chiefs and everyone else … Mahomes is Jordan with the ball in his hands with game on the line, has proven it every game of his career so far. No moment too big. Derek looks great against no pass rush (embarrassing Chiefs) and no opposing fans to rile him up and get too noisy for him. No playoff wins 8 years in and we’re still trying to figure out if Derek Carr is good? Haha, I think I have the answer for you (he’s not). QB purgatory with him, enjoy. I lived a lifetime of it as a Chiefs fan.

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