Which AFC Team Will Miss the Playoffs?

Will the loss to New York cost Cleveland?

Despite the NFL regular season officially wrapping up this upcoming Sunday, the AFC playoff picture is far from decided. Five teams currently sit with a record of 10–5. The Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and Indianapolis Colts will all be fighting for their postseason lives this weekend. One team however, will be left out.

The question is which team is it?

As of right now, the Indianapolis Colts would be the odd man out. This would also be the case next week if the other four teams win their games. There’s a decent chance that doesn’t happen though.

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Indianapolis is currently on the outside looking in. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

I believe two of the five teams are basically locks for the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans will be making an appearance in this year’s postseason. The Ravens just have the beat the Cincinnati Bengals and they’re in. Tennessee similarly must beat the Houston Texans and they’re in. If both of these results happen, which most people expect to, then the real drama starts.

Three teams, but only two spots.

Indianapolis, while being on the outside of the playoff picture, have the easiest remaining game of the three. The Colts will face the 1–14 Jacksonville Jaguars in Indy on Sunday. Yes the Colts are Jacksonville’s only win on the season; however, a repeat of that result is highly unlikely given the circumstances. Indy knows they have to win in order to have any shot at the postseason. The Colts will likely win this game handily.

That means the door would be open for Indianapolis if either Miami or Cleveland loses their game. There’s a real possibility both teams lose though, considering Miami plays Buffalo, while Cleveland plays Pittsburgh. But let’s look at each possible scenario.

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Miami can lose and still make the postseason. Harry How/Getty Images

The first being both Miami and Cleveland win. Let’s say both the Bills and Steelers rest their starters. Then unfortunately, in Indianapolis’ case, the Colts will be left out of the playoffs.

The second scenario would be both Miami and Cleveland lose. In that case, Cleveland would be extending their postseason drought. The Browns would also miss the playoffs if Miami wins and they lose. Cleveland’s hope is that they can upset the Steelers, while Miami loses against Buffalo. In that scenario the Dolphins would be out of the playoffs.

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Cleveland’s playoff chances took a major hit against the Jets. Bill Kostroun/AP

Unfortunately for Browns fans, Cleveland is likely going to be the team that misses out on postseason football. The Ravens, Titans, and Colts are likely going to secure victories on Sunday. And even a Miami loss won’t be enough if history repeats itself in the Cleveland-Pittsburgh game (Steelers won 38–7 in October). Looks like the Browns will have to wait another year to break their playoff drought.

Written by

University at Buffalo ’20 | BA in Communication | Writer for The Sports Scientist

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