The Buffalo Bills' playoff hopes are already fleeting, the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to completely squash them. In case you hadn't noticed, the Jags have been playing fairly well over the last three weeks.
They have only won one game in that span, but they pushed the Houston Texans to the brink in Week 11 and they knocked off the Tennessee Titans in Week 12. The Bills have played teams close, but they seem to find a way to lose.
At 4-7, losing is one thing they can't really afford to do. Generally, 9-7 is the worst record a team can hope to have and make the playoffs. That should hold true in the AFC this season with four teams seemingly set to battle it out for the Wild Card spots.
The Bills will likely need to run the table, and that simply won't happen.
The emergence of Justin Blackmon as a go-to receiver has helped to give the Jags offense some balance. He has 12 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Sure, 236 of those yards came in one game against the Texans, but he had five grabs and a score against the Titans as well. Expect him to create matchup problems for the Bills' secondary all game.
The Bills' passing offense has struggled this season. They are ranked just 25th in the NFL in passing yards.
They depend heavily on the ground game, and that one-dimensional approach is the reason for their recent struggles. Even though the Jags are on the road, Mike Mularkey has this team buying in to his system, and they appear far more confident with Chad Henne at quarterback.
The Jags will pull the mini-upset and all but eliminate the Bills from the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are in an almost the same situation as the Bills. What's worse is that the expectations for the Chargers were higher. They sit at 4-7 looking up at the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Any chance of the Chargers winning the AFC West went out the window when the Baltimore Ravens stunned them in overtime in Week 12. Their playoff chances will be the next thing that flies away.
The hot Cincinnati Bengals come to town in Week 13, and they will finish the Chargers off. Norv Turner's offense has been inconsistent all season, and it is clear they desperately miss the deep threat Vincent Jackson used to represent.
I'm not confident the team can score enough points to beat anyone right now.
Meanwhile, the Bengals' offense has been incredibly efficient and balanced. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has put together back-to-back 100-yard games, and in the last three weeks, Andy Dalton has tossed nine touchdown passes and no interceptions.
The Chargers won't contain the Bengals, and they certainly can't keep pace on the scoreboard. This may be the weekend Turner gets his walking papers.
The Chargers will be all but banished from the playoff picture after they lose to the Bengals.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints' resurgence just happened to run through a very difficult part of their schedule.
In Week 10 they handed the Atlanta Falcons their only defeat. In Week 11, they had an active bye week (i.e., they played the Oakland Raiders), and in Week 12 they hosted and lost to the San Francisco 49ers. Now they have to hit the road for a rematch with the Falcons.
Having started the season 0-4, they really don't have a lot of room for error. The loss to the Niners on Sunday was just about the final straw. They are already 3-4 in the conference and 5-6 overall.
Picking up that seventh loss would be a major blow to their playoff hopes. Unfortunately for them, that's exactly what is going to happen.
The Falcons have been great all season, but with an opportunity to stamp out the Saints' playoff hopes at home, they will be at their best.
The Saints defense still isn't getting enough stops, and without the aid of the Superdome crowd, they won't stop the Falcons offense. The Saints offensive line is struggling and Drew Brees was sacked five times against the Niners.
Look for him to be under pressure in this game as well. The Falcons will win and clinch the division title as the Broncos will handle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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