On Pro Football: The A.F.C. Doesn’t Have 6 Playoff-Worthy Teams

The N.F.L. likes to brag about the competitiveness across the league, how in every year since 2000 at least one team with a winning percentage of .500 or lower midway through its season has gone on to make the playoffs.

Seeing that the top 10 in the N.F.C. have winning records, if the streak continues this season it will likely be because of an A.F.C. team: Oakland (4-5), Baltimore (4-5) and Miami (4-4), which plays at Carolina on Monday night, remain very much alive.

In the event the N.F.L. decides to keep the current playoff format (sigh), six teams will nonetheless qualify from the A.F.C. Barring a collapse, New England, Pittsburgh and Kansas City are well positioned. As for the other three?

Here’s a look at the leading candidates:


Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has struggled this season, but Jacksonville’s defense has kept the team in games.

Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6-3): By no means was Louis Riddick comparing Jacksonville’s quarterback, Blake Bortles, to Peyton Manning. But, he said, the Jaguars’ formula for…

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