The AFC Wild Card weekend is almost underway and it got us thinking. There are a few teams that are massive underdogs, but how far could they go? Assessing more than just their NFL stats, we’re going to look at these teams and make our predictions. Perhaps they’re one and done, maybe they could compete for an AFC Title. Lastly, could these Wild Card teams win it all this season?
Now, we’ll only be covering the seventh, sixth, and fifth-seed in this particular piece. We’ll be sure to touch on the other ones as time goes on. However, this time, we’re focused on the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New England Patriots, and the Las Vegas Raiders. We’ll go over what these teams do best, where they lack, and their potential of having a solid playoff run.
Seventh Seed: The Pittsburgh Steelers Prepare For Battle
Some (including us) are shocked that the Steelers were able to get into the playoffs. Their roller-coaster season ended with them landing the final No.7 spot in the AFC. Now, the question is how far can they go under Ben Roethlisberger. Unfortunately for them, their first stop is Kansas City, so a one-and-done trip is all we see for the Steelers. A tough break to be sure.
The main problem in Pittsburgh is their lackluster offense led by Ben Roethlisberger. He’s an immobile quarterback that used to rely on his huge arm to make plays. Now that the arm has been worn down, the Steelers offense is too. Roethlisberger has a QBR this year of 34.8, one of the worst in the league. Don’t expect too much from the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.
Sixth Seed: The New England Patriots Might Just Shock the World
It might seem as if the Patriots don’t have a chance because they’re the sixth seed. However, if you take a look at who they’ve beat this season, you might change your mind. Both the Titans and the Bills have fallen to the Patriots this season. The Titans are the No.1 seed and the Bills are the No.3 seed this season. Making New England a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.
They also have one of the best NFL coaches in the history of the sport. Bill Belichick turns it up a level once they enter the playoffs. Their defense ranks No.2 in the NFL, allowing just 17.8 points per game. The only big question we have is the rookie Mac Jones. If Belichick can keep him composed, you could see New England in the Super Bowl this season.
Fifth Seed: The Las Vegas Raiders Have a Big Test on Saturday
Much as the Steelers face stiff competition to start the playoffs, the Raiders are in the same boat. Their first opponent is the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that beat them 32-13 when they met this season. However, the regular season is behind them and they finished it with four straight wins. The question is, can they win this rematch against the Bengals on Saturday?
One thing we know is that the Raiders have a really great passing offense. The only big problem is that they’ll be playing in 21-degree weather, making it hard to pass. Their running game isn’t great this year, they only average 95.1 yards per game, 28th in the NFL. Taking this into consideration, we don’t see the Raiders going very far in the playoffs, at most a divisional game.
Our Favorite For a Solid Playoff Run: New England Patriots
When you put together exactly what the Patriots have, you’ll see they’re the best out of these three. With a rookie quarterback, the Patriots have the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 27.2 points per game. Not to mention, Mac Jones averages 226.9 passing yards per game ranking 14th in the NFL.
Sure, he might be young, but he comes from a college known for winning big games. The pressure of the playoffs might be heavy, but he also has a great guide as a head coach. Don’t fall asleep on the Patriots, the dynasty might be starting all over again.