AFC playoff picture: Predicting Week 15 results for Chargers' wild-card foes

Jason Reed
Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers
Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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The LA Chargers massively boosted their playoff chances in Week 14 with a huge win over the Miami Dolphins on primetime. Now, the Chargers essentially control their own destiny as winning out would guarantee a playoff spot while going 3-1 and finishing with 10 wins would still give the Chargers a really good chance.

We already made our predictions for how the Bolts will finish the season in the final four games but there are other teams to consider as well. As it stands right now, the Dolphins, New York Jets and New England Patriots are competing with the Chargers for the final two wild-card spots. There is a possibility of a surprise team joining the fold down the line as well.

Week 15 could really shake up the AFC playoff picture depending on the outcomes of these four games. We predicted a Chargers win over the Titans, and now it is time to predict the outcomes for the other three teams.

Predicting the Week 15 outcomes for the Chargers' playoff competitors:

Buffalo Bills defeat Miami Dolphins

The first of three games is on Saturday as the Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins. Miami shocked Buffalo earlier this season but that is likely not going to happen again with this game being in Buffalo and the film being out on how to slow down this Miami offense.

The Bills are competing for the top spot in the AFC and can essentially lock down the division by beating the Dolphins. There is a reason why Buffalo is a touchdown favorite in this game and it should lead to an outright victory for Josh Allen and co.

New York Jets defeat Detroit Lions

This is a really compelling game and is one of the most intriguing of the entire weekend. Both the Jets and Lions are playing for their playoff lives in this game and the arrows for both teams are pointing in opposite directions.

This is also a classic matchup of a really good offense (Detroit) coming up against a really good defense. Meanwhile, a stagnant Jets offense is coming up against one of the worst defenses in the league.

While he has played well, Jared Goff is still the quarterback of the Lions and if anyone knows his strengths and weaknesses it is Robert Saleh, who was the defensive coordinator of a 49ers team that faced Goff a lot. A Jets loss would be huge for the Chargers but they right the ship after back-to-back losses.

New England Patriots defeat Las Vegas Raiders

This is another compelling game that can certainly go either way. While the Patriots have a better record than the Raiders, they have not necessarily been playing great football this season and the gap between the two teams is minuscule, if there is one.

That being said, Bill Belichick historically dominates his former assistant coaches and we have to pick off of that trend and not the hope that Vegas wins this game. The Patriots stay in the race with a big win over the Raiders but the Chargers shouldn't be too worried as the schedule gets much tougher after this game.

New England finishes the season against the Bengals, Dolphins and Bills. This could be the last win on the schedule for the team.

AFC playoff picture with these outcomes:

After plugging these outcomes into ESPN's NFL Playoff Machine, the backend seeding of the AFC playoff picture would look as followed:

  • 6. New England Patriots (8-6, 6-3 vs AFC)
  • 7. LA Chargers (8-6, 6-4 vs AFC)
  • 8. Miami Dolphins (8-6, 6-4 vs AFC)
  • 9. New York Jets (8-6, 6-5 vs AFC)

Since it is a three-way tie between the Chargers, Dolphins and Jets, the head-to-head tiebreaker does not matter. However, it is very important to note that the Bolts have the tiebreaker over the Dolphins if it were to come down to a two-way tie between the two teams for a playoff spot.

Additionally, the Jets currently have the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Dolphins as well but they play again this season. Regardless, this would be a great position to be in for the Bolts as they have the easiest remaining three games of any of these teams and it is not even close.

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