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AFC Wild Card Watch: Week 17

NFL: DEC 25 Colts at Cardinals Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Current Standings

5th Indianapolis Colts 9-6 (98% chance)

6th New England Patriots 9-6 (80% chance)

7th Miami Dolphins 8-7 (30% chance)

OUT Los Angeles Chargers 8-7 (50% chance)

OUT Baltimore Ravens 8-7 (10% chance)

Patriots

Score this week: Lost 21-33 vs. Bills

1-10 on 3rd downs, 0-2 in the turnover battle, while not forcing a single punt. Two consecutive losses against direct opponents in the playoff race means that the Pats went from the #1 seed to the second wild card spot. Mac Jones is crashing back to earth and the Patriots once feared defense is not looking as dominant.

Next week: vs. Jaguars

Luckily for the Patriots, they have the perfect chance to end the losing streak against the Jags without a head coach, without a starting running back, and without any clear path. This will probably be the easiest win of the season for the Pats, who will be looking to get back in form before a key matchup against the Dolphins in the final week.

Dolphins

Score this week: Won 20-3 @Saints

Don’t look now, but the Dolphins are in the midst of an unbelievable comeback. Sure, they have faced by far the easiest schedule of anyone in the league in the last 10 weeks, but they did have a quality win against the Ravens. Their offense is just a one man show with Jaylen Waddle, as they have nothing worth writing about other than him, but they do have a stingy well coached defense.

Next week: @Titans

Even when they have to go against a tough opponent, the Dolphins can rest easy knowing they won’t be facing Derrick Henry. The Dolphins will now have two tough matchups to prove if they are for real and deserve to get into the playoffs or if they will be left looking from the outside once again, much like last season.

Chargers

Score this week: Lost 29-41 @Texans

Oof, this is a tough, tough loss for the Chargers. Had they done what they were supposed to do and beat the Texans, they would be 9-6 and with a playoff spot all but guaranteed for them. Instead, they allowed Davis Mills to torch their secondary and Rex Burkhead to run all over them, while Justin Herbert struggled against an uninspiring Texans D. Overall just a terrible loss for them.

Next week: vs. Broncos

Denver finally came crushing back to earth and is now out of the playoff race, but they can still be a dangerous team. Their running game is dangerous with rookie Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, and their defense is still stingy. The Chargers will need to put that hurtful loss quickly behind them if they are to have a shot at making the playoffs.

Ravens

Score this week: Lost 21-41 @Bengals

The Ravens were forced to start Josh Johnson at quarterback (the same guy that torched the Colts’ secondary with the Jets). This team is just not the same without Lamar Jackson, who is the heart and soul of that team. With Lamar now reportedly “limping noticeably” at practice, the season could be over for the Ravens as soon as this Sunday.

Next week: vs. Rams

I cannot think of a tougher matchup for the Ravens right now. If Lamar is not ready to go and misses this game, then the Ravens have almost no chance of winning, and if Lamar is not fully healthy yet but forces the issue then the Ravens are risking a serious injury playing him against a front that has Aaron Donald and Von Miller.