Note: Working to make my homemade conference standing images less-hobbitlike
The biggest shocker in the current AFC playoff picture is that if the season ended today, Jacksonville would be in, and the Peytonmannings would be out. Jacksonville would then take over the mantle of worst-playoff team ever from the 2004 Seahawks.
Not only did the Texans' collapse likely cost Gary Kubiak his job and cause the media to force-feed Mark Sanchez down our throats in the current Favre-ian quarterback void, but the loss effectively eliminates the Texans from playoff consideration. They are 3 games out of a wild card spot with 6 to play, and even though they're only 2 games out of the division lead, there are 3 teams ahead of them. The more things change, the more the Texans finish disappointingly out of the playoff race in the end.
No team wants to end up in a tiebreaker with the Patriots for a wild card spot. They've beaten 4 teams they could easily be competing with for seeding (or a spot itself) head-to-head. Their one blemish? The loss that's keeping them in the wild card spot right now: the week 2 loss to the Jets.
Also interesting: No team on this list has played more than 3 games against teams in its own division. Smart move by the NFL keeping a good amount of divisional games till the end of the season.
Miami and Tennessee are both on this list, but barely. Both have 4 conference losses already (which hurts their chances at winning tiebreakers). In Miami's case, they sit behind 2 8-2 teams, so the division is out of the question. Tennessee sits 1 game behind 2 teams, but they've beaten one of those teams H2H so far, so they have slightly more hope.
This is almost always a bittersweet exercise, for when I look at the numbers, I usually see my Seahawks easily in 4th place with a poor record. Sure enough, they're 2 games behind the other 3 division winners, but still in a playoff spot with a .500 record thanks to the ineptitude of the rest of their division. The Rams lurk at the very bottom of the list, but actually only 1 game out of a playoff spot, at 4-6. The final game of the season is STL at SEA, which could be for the division...and a .500 record.
Speaking of Week 17 games for the division, CHI at GB, I think we've found our end of the season Sunday night flex game.
Tampa picked a rough year to be surprisingly good. Looking closer at their schedule though, the only team on this list they have beaten is the only sub-.500 team on the list, which makes me feel a little less sorry for their current outside-looking-in position.
2 weeks ago, the New York Giants looked like the best team in football. Right now, their the 8th team in the playoff race. If that's not worth a Manningface I don't know what is.