After the divisional round of the playoffs concluded, two big contenders in the AFC were eliminated. The Bills and Titans were two teams who had great seasons that would ultimately end in defeat. Next year the Browns, Chargers, Dolphins, and Ravens will all be back in the mix. with healthy rosters. With the AFC getting even more crowded heading into next year there is a real wonder of who will make the playoffs next time around.
While the Titans were the number one seed, many people saw the Bills as the best contender in the AFC. Although they had a disappointing end to the season the Bills were one of the best teams coming down the stretch. A big part of that was due to their defense being the best in the NFL and Josh Allen playing well. They also lost in their divisional round with a coin toss. The Bills didn’t even get a chance to show what they could do because of the NFL’s botched rules. While I could write and write about the issues with the NFL overtime rules that is not what I am here to talk about. The Bills got robbed out of a genuine shot to the Super Bowl. Sure the Bengals would be up next, but that roster is so young and I have no doubt the Bills would be able to take care of business. The real question is whether the Bills will ever get another shot like this at a Super Bowl.
The Titans are also in a similar position with the roster they have right now. Sure they got the one seed and held on to it with King Henry out, but a lot of things went right for them. The Cheifs had lost early in the season which I think they learned a real lesson from and that would be enough to knock them into a Wild Card Matchup. The Titans also got robbed in their matchup with a late-game interception which led to the game-winning field goal. Sure they have a roster that will continue to make the playoffs, but how will they fare playing an extra game. This was their best shot at the Super Bowl from my perspective at least. With other teams in the AFC barely missing the playoffs, I can’t help but wonder how they would play if they were fully healthy.
The AFC playoff race was certainly tighter this year than it has been in the past. There are five teams that I would think have a decent shot next year to make the playoffs. This would be the Browns, Ravens, Chargers, and Dolphins. All of them look like they could have been playoff teams this year and quite honestly the Chargers would have if they didn’t call a timeout. There is plenty of talent with these teams and honestly, injuries stack up late in the season and are going to affect teams.
The Browns for example were playing Baker Mayfield who was clearly way too banged up. They also lost OBJ in the middle of the season leaving them a gaping hole in their wide receiver room. Not to mention they are going to get a top 16 pick (assuming they haven’t traded it away) and a full offseason to fix any offensive issues. They had potential throughout most of the regular season, it was just a tough schedule that got a lot harder with your QB1 playing hurt.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were another team that could not find a way into the playoffs. Lamar was sidelined for much of the back half of the Ravens campaign which seriously hurt their odds. I think this was one of those years where the Ravens could have made a deep run into the playoffs with the team they had earlier in the year. Injuries would get the best of them and they would have to settle with last place in the AFC North. They also look like they might be adding AB in the offseason which would only help Lamar find another receiver to get the ball to.
The bottom line for Bills and Titans fans is that this was one of your best shots to make the Super Bowl. This is especially true for Buffalo fans who unfortunately lost the way that they did. Maybe they will make a run and make it next year, all I am saying is that it will be a lot more difficult than it was to make that jump this year. Maybe one day we will see one of these underrated teams make it to the top.
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