Ok, maybe not the hardest road, but it sure feels like it given we would have had the top seed wrapped up right now if it wasn’t for
the refs the defense us losing to the Chargers in absolutely brutal fashion on Thursday.
But the past is in the past, and altogether we’re still in a pretty decent spot.
I will go through all the details (as usual), but with the Patriots losing it is basically win the division and get the 1 seed, or lose the division and get the 5 seed. It is impossible to get lower than the 5th seed (since other than the Chargers, every non-division winner will be at best 10-6), and if we win the division it will almost certainly mean doing enough to finish above the Texans and Patriots.
Last week our magic number in the division was 2, and it remains 2 with 2 games to go. That means we either need to win out, have the Chargers lose out, or us win lose one game and the Chargers lose one game and we got the division. Now the question is, how likely is that to happen?
We have at Seattle and the Raiders at home remaining. The Raiders at home is about as sure of a bet as you can get. If we can’t even beat them at home when we need it we might as well give up in the playoffs. At Seattle will be a tough game, but we’re favored and rightfully so.
The Chargers have the Ravens at home this week, then go to Denver. Both of those games will be tough for them, although they’ll likely be favored in both.
In short, as long as we take care of business against Oakland, we only need 1 of those 3 tough games to go our way. It’s certainly possible for the Chargers to win the division, but it’s highly unlikely.
Having the 2nd best team in the conference makes this side of the equation pretty easy. Win the division, and we have the 1 seed.
The Patriots, who looked like our biggest barrier last week, suddenly have been reduced to almost no threat at all. The only way they will impact us in any way is if we finish 0-2, the Chargers also finish 0-2, and the Patriots finish 2-0. That’s not going to happen.
Interestingly the Texans are now more likely to be an issue after I dismissed them last week. They needed the 6 combined remaining games on our schedules to go a certain way, and last week both games went just that way. They beat the Jets, and we lost to the Chargers. They have those same 3 scenarios open to them to pass us:
- Texans go 2-0 and Chiefs go 0-2, or
- Texans go 1-1 with the loss being against the Eagles and Chiefs go 0-2, or
- Texans go 2-0 and Chiefs go 1-1, with the win being against Seattle
At least one of the bullets will get eliminated this week. If the Chiefs win, only the last bullet will remain. If both lose only the middle bullet will remain. If the Texans win and Chiefs lose only the first bullet will remain. If the Chiefs win and Texans lose then the Texans won’t be able to pass the Chiefs.
One consequence of this is that it seems unlikely that we’ll rest our starters in week 17. For us to clinch the 1 seed this week we need a win, a Chargers loss, and a Texan’s loss.
- Win the division, and the 1 seed is almost certainly ours.
- We clinch the division with a win and Chargers loss.
- Patriots are very, very unlikely to be an issue.
- The Texans could still pass us, but it’s highly unlikely.
- Plan on us playing our starters against the Raiders in week 17. We only clinch our seed with a win, Chargers loss, and Texans loss.