AFC Week 17 Hot Takes

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: For so many of these teams, this season mercifully came to an end on this past weekend. The Bills were one of them, although their nightmare is likely to continue. As Deadspin points out, this is a team without answers, leadership, or a quarterback. They finished their season losing to the LOLJets, fired Rex Ryan a week ago, and apparently their GM doesn’t know what his job is exactly. Where do you even start making that better? – Jordan Curet

Miami Dolphins: It feels good for the upstart Dolphins to make the playoffs and it’s something they can really build off of. However Week 17 vs New England showed how flawed of a team they really are and will likely get blown out by Pittsburgh in Round 1. – Randy Haines

New England Patriots: The Patriots are going to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for 7th time since 2001. I know they still have to win two playoff games to get there, but who is going to be able to go into Foxboro and beat them? The only two teams who might be able to challenge them are the Chiefs and Steelers, but I think Tom Brady and company are a lock to make the Super Bowl. – Nick Bair

New York Jets: The Jets played maybe their best game of the season and could’ve cost themselves big in the draft by doing it. Well done Jets, well done. – RH

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: I wouldn’t read too much into the loss to the Bengals. That was a letdown game after losing that heartbreaker to the Steelers on Christmas. Like I said last week, I hope the Ravens show some caution this offseason. I would keep Harbaugh and most of the coaching staff. They need to upgrade their running game (maybe with the 16th pick in the draft?) and see what they can do to keep some of their key players entering free agency. If they nail both of those things, the Ravens will be back in the playoffs next season. – NB

Cincinnati Bengals: As of now Marvin Lewis is still employed by the Cincinnati Bengals. That is a problem and this team will never reach its potential as long as he is still on the sidelines. – RH

Cleveland Browns: I was somehow charged with writing about the Bills, 49ers, and Browns all season. First off, my colleagues hate me. Secondly, it is incredible I’m not clinically depressed from having to check in on all three of them week in and week out. I feel for the people who follow these teams by choice. I really do. The Browns got their first pick in the draft (again) and managed to win one game this season. Hooray. – JC

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have a chance to redeem one of their more embarrassing losses of the season when they host Miami in the AFC Wild Card game on Sunday. The Pittsburgh run defense was exposed that day as swiss cheese when Jay Ajayi ran for over 200 yards on them. The key to the game will be if the Steelers can slow him down. Matt Moore isn’t going to beat them, so if they do that, they will be moving on to Kansas City. – NB

AFC South

Houston Texans: Just when we thought we were done with the Brock show this season. The Texans may have to throw Brock Osweiler back out there this weekend if Tom Savage isn’t ready to play. The sad thing about all this is some how the Texans will likely have the better quarterback this weekend when they host the Raiders. What a year this has been. – RH

Indianapolis Colts: This team is technically up there on the saddest stories of the year. This team is WASTING some of the best years of Andrew Luck’s life. It is a testament to Luck’s character that he doesn’t tell everyone to suck it and run his book club full time. That and not being able to beat the other teams in this division enough times to make the playoffs is offensive on a human level. I guess beating the Jaguars to make it to 8-8 counts as something but whatever it is feels like a mix between sadness and emptiness. Go home, Colts. We’re all disappointed in you. – JC

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars waited until the last couple weeks of the year to play some of their most competent football of the season. At least they have some hope going into next season. They are still loaded with young talent on both sides of the ball including Allen Robinson and Jalen Ramsey. They also have the fourth pick in the draft to grab another (hopefully) impact player. The two biggest issues this offseason will be finding a new coach and deciding if Blake Bortles will be the QB of the future in Jacksonville. Personally, I think they can immediately turn this franchise around with the right coaching hire (not Doug Marrone), but I also think it’s time to move on from Blake Bortles. – NB

Tennessee Titans: The Mariota injury will stung last week, but the Titans should be pretty happy with how this season went. Mike Mularkey seems like he knows what he is doing running the show, their offense was humming, and the team was actually fun to watch at times. Now they have another top 5 pick courtesy of the Rams, as well their own pick at 18th overall. If they get two more impact players and Mariota returns to full health, the Titans should be the AFC South favorites next season. – NB

AFC West

Denver Broncos: Now, this actually is something of a redeeming, feel good win. Especially in light of the news that Gary Kubiak is stepping down, the Broncos beating the Raiders meant they sent their coach out by playing spoiler to a division rival. If you can’t make the playoffs, at least make everyone else’s life miserable. There will be some soul searching in Denver this offseason, as they will need a new coach and decide whether Trevor-I-might-be-decent-Siemian is their QB of the future, but it certainly wasn’t all bad. – JC

Kansas City Chiefs: With the flaming hot garbage that is the AFC playoffs the Chiefs have a real shot at going to the Super Bowl this season. They will need their offense to, click on all cylinders to keep up with New England and Pittsburgh, but they have the talent this year unlike in years past. They will also need Alex Smith to stop throwing interceptions in the end zone. That will also go a long way to helping this team advance. – RH

Oakland Raiders: Welp it looks like the Raiders’ season ended with the Derek Carr injury. The team completely no showed in Week 17 and lost their first round bye. Now they have to travel to Houston this week in what might be a matchup of (avert your eyes) Connor Cook versus Brock Osweiler or Tom Savage. I know Houston is also a mess in their own right, but I think the Raiders are done. Congrats Texans, you get the right to lose to the Patriots. – NB

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers gave it all they had again this weekend, but are just not there yet. At the beginning of the season I thought Mike McCoy deserved to be fired, but the way this season has played out I’m not so sure anymore. Either way the Chargers will have a new coach and more than likely a new home next season. – RH

-Nick Bair, Jordan Curet, and Randy Haines

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