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AFC Playoff Outlook: Lord Lamar, The Wild West, Steelers Resurrection

Lamar Jackson is a God. The second coming of Micheal Vick and a generational talent that will revolutionize the NFL. After this past weekend’s demolishing of the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s widely believed that Lamar Jackson will win the MVP and perhaps a Superbowl. At this point every sports fan had the luxury of watching Lamar Demeatrice Jackson Jr. COMPLETELY fool an entire defence and create one of the greatest plays in NFL history. I can already see myself talking about this play for decades to come. If you haven’t seen it yet (which has to be impossible) here it is:

Lamar Jackson will be a generational talent because he is by far the best athlete in the NFL. He is crafty and flexible runner and just as intelligent when throwing in the pocket. Along with this, he was drafted by a team smart enough to understand his potential. I distinctly remember his detractors say he was an inaccurate QB that wasn’t smart enough to understand an NFL playbook… okay, maybe not those words precisely… but you catch my drift. I watched every other team in the NFL pass on Lamar Jackson (including the Ravens, who draft Hayden Hurst before him). Looking back, he couldn’t have landed in a better spot. He has one of the most creative offensive coaches in the NFL calling the offence and a great defence to cover up and random off games he might have. The Ravens even traded for Marcus Peters to bolster an already great defence that creates turnovers every single game. There was a play in this game that blew my mind. In the video below you’ll see the Ravens perform “The Heisman Package”

It’s a three man option play featuring RG3 / Lamar Jackson Jr. / Mark Ingram. The options are endless. If this doesn’t give you chills, you have no blood. It’s that simple.

Anyways, back to reality. I’m back home, nerding out to this play on my couch with my dog barking at GOD KNOWS FUCKING WHAT. Nothing, however could distract me from this play. The ball is snapped, Lamar fakes it to Ingram, runs past the first down mark and shovels it to RG3 for extra mustard. It was awesome to watch and an example of John Harbaugh’s genius play-calling. Ravens will win the AFC as long as they stay healthy and the rest of the league better be on notice. Lamar Jackson will not be a flash in the pan. Every team that passed on him will regret this decision forever.

Now that we know who Thanos is, let’s have a look at the rest of the AFC. There’s a lot of really interesting teams and some really bad ones. Here’s my breakdown of who I think will make the AFC playoffs and who’ll be on the outside looking in.

Playoff Bound

New England Patriots (8-1)

Patriots have had one of the easiest schedules in the entire NFL. It’s obviously not their fault (If you think it’s a conspiracy, you’re a moron and probably eat pasta with hotdog slices), the AFC West shits itself every year. While we can never bet against Tom Brady, we need to question whether they can stop the Ravens in an AFC divisional game. The Ravens dismantled the Patriots and exposed every weakness they had. That being said, I’ve eaten my words before and this team should never be underestimated.

Houston Texans (6-3)

Deshaun Watson is playing lights out this year and has carried this offenc. Much like Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson has been an absolute spectacle to watch. Losing JJ Watt sucks and they traded Clowney to Seattle but this defence is still holding their own. Their entire season has consisted of close games that come down to final plays and Watson has generally been resilient. That being said their remaining schedule isn’t a cake walk. With teams like the Patriots, Ravens and Titans (twice) coming up, their fortunes can quickly turn.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

The Chiefs struggled to stop Ryan Tannehill and the Titans this past weekend and man… they really need to get out of their own way. It’s insane how the majority of their losses come down to late game miscues. In their two recent losses The Chiefs had more than 200 yards of penalties and had a kick blocked late to lose to The Titans. This loss will surely worsen the chance of a first round bye. Sure Patrick Mahomes masks any weaknesses this team has, but sloppy teams don’t win Superbowls. Just ask Bill Belichick. All this being said, even as a Raiders fan I don’t see the Chiefs losing control of the AFC West.

Buffalo Bills (6-3)

The Bills managed to lose to the Browns this weekend in a really messy penalty filled game. The Bills continue to be a mystery and a non-conformity in the NFL. I really want them to be amazing. I can’t get enough of their insane fans and love watching Josh Allen. He is both really talented and so damn frustrating. While they do face off against the Dolphins and Broncos in the coming weeks, they will be looking down the barrel of a rough end of season stretch: Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers & Bills. Trial by Fire, just perfect for the underrated Bills.

Wild Card Watch

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)

After an absolutely rough start to their season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the picture. They lost Big Ben and had to rely on Mason Rudolph. No one saw this team going anywhere….Then they traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick. This move not only changed their defence, it transformed them into a divisional threat that will probably take a wild card spot. This team needed a spark after Ben went down and they have responded. They might not over take the Ravens this season, but there are few teams as well coached as the Steelers in the AFC.

Oakland Raiders (5-4)

The Raiders have found their mojo. After a huge beatdown of the Chargers, many are starting to consider the Raiders as a dangerous threat in the AFC. This is a team that had to deal with the Antonio Brown clown show and a rough road trip to start the season. Needless to say, they have found their identity and have relied heavily on a terrific offensive rookie. Josh Jacobs has been unstoppable weapon and looks to be a future star in the league. While their defence was inspired last week against the Chargers, they still have ways to go. They do face off against the Bengals, Jets and Broncos in coming weeks.. but we’re talking about the Raiders afterall. They’ve disappointed me my whole life. Things look nice right now, but I do not see them taking the final wild card spot.

Indianapolis Colts (5-4)

Andrew Luck retired. Jacoby Brissett is injured. Brian Hoyer lost to the Dolphins. This is where we stand with the Colts. It’s a shame really, this was a team that looked like a favourite to take the AFC South. As luck would have it, their hopes are sliding on thin ice and they might not even make the playoffs. Hopefully Brissett can make it back in time before this ship sinks. They have tough games coming against the Panthers, Texans and Saints. I just don’t see them making it in this year.

Tennessee Titans (5-5)

The Titans came out with a gutsy win against the Chiefs this weekend. Their change at Quarterback might have completely changed their fortunes this season. While I feel bad for Marcus Mariota, I think it’s safe to say he’ll be looking at backup duties the rest of his career. Ryan Tannehill on the other hand, is about to bring home the bag. Whether the Titans choose to keep Tannehill is yet to be determined, but he has proven to give them exactly what they were looking for. With matchups coming up against the Colts, Jaguars, Raiders, Saints and Texans, the Titans have an opportunity to win crucial games and take the final spot of the playoffs. I believe that their defence and stellar coaching is going to make the difference down the road.

AFC Purgatory

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)

Jags are at the ass end of an overcrowded division. While anything at this point with many inter division games coming up, it’s safe to say this team isn’t scaring anyone. The run game just isn’t what we expected, The Minshew miracle has kind of fizzled out and this defence sorely misses Jalen Ramsey. Jaguars will most probably be on the outside looking in the AFC playoffs.

Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)

It’s over for Philip Rivers. The loss to the Raiders this past week stole their soul and their identity. They couldn’t move the ball and when they did, it was because of ticky tack penalties. Rivers overthrew receivers all game and was pressured all night. Their schedule does not get any better as they look to end the season on a rough three game stretch against the Vikings, Raiders and Chiefs.

AFC Trash

Denver Broncos (3-6)

Vic Fangio will probably get fired this off-season and the Broncos have no idea what they are doing at Quarterback. While not mathematically out of the playoffs Branden Allen just won’t cut it. Their defence isn’t all that bad but they haven’t produced nearly enough this season. The Broncos front office better hope they land a top prospect QB next year because this car is stuck in neutral. Also, why didn’t they trade Von Miller? It’s not like they’ll make the playoffs the rest of his career and he’s worth plenty to a playoff bound team!

Cleveland Browns (3-6)

Freddie Kitchens continues to keep his job despite calling a terrible offence that couldn’t score with eight straight shots in the endzone this past weekend. Yes the Browns won, but it’s mostly due to the Bills tripping over themselves throughout the game. Baker Mayfield has been nothing but embarrassing this year and that locker room is one more bad loss from completely exploding. I don’t think Baker is finished, but they really need to being in a better play caller and better blocking next season.

Tank For Tua

Miami Dolphins (2-7)

Did the Miami Dolphins decide to stop tanking? Was Joe Burrows THAT impressive in LSU’s throttling of Alabama? Why trade a generational talent like Minkah Fitzpatrick and risk mutiny just to get a couple of measly wins? There’s a lot of questions we all have about the Dolphins. Better just move on, I’m already getting a headache thinking about them.

New York Jets (2-7)

Okay we know that the Jets aren’t interested in Tua. They have Sam Darnold despite his brief stint with mono and looking lost every game. There’s really nothing to look forward to if your a Jets fan, this season is a complete wash. They won’t be drafting Chase Young, Tua or Burrows… That being said they could really use the services of Jerry Jeudy who already has elite route running ability (here’s a clip for all you non-believers!)

Cincinnati Bengals (0-9)

I can already see the headlines “Bengals pass on Tua, draft Burrows”, it would a be perfect Bengals story: passing up on a future hall of famer for another average Quarterback. Look, I’m in the Joe Burrows fan club, I love everything about this kid from his superman hair swirl to his canon-like arm. I just don’t think he is at the level Tua Tagovailoa is at. The Bengals will probably over think this and hand the Dolphins their future star QB. Bengals are in the worst kind of purgatory: They are in a rough division, have shown no sign of life and still have the worst jersey in the NFL.

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