I am as depressed as the next guy following our loss yesterday to Tampa. Nevertheless, it’s time to step back and gain some perspective. It’s hard to maintain high expectations with new coaches, scheme, etc. However, the mediocre AFC may be just what the doctor ordered for us to slip into the playoffs. I know this isn’t a Super Bowl team, but there’s no harm in at least hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Right now we sit at 3-5, with the difficult part of our schedule completed. Through our first eight games our opponents’ combined winning percentage was 0.500 (32-32). Our opponents’ combined winning percentage in our latter portion of our schedule is 0.392 (25-39).
Breaking down the schedule further, I see four must win games for us to have a shot at the playoffs. These games include @Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, and KC. Good news, three of those four are at home. Bad news, winning these four requires us to go on an unprecedented four game winning streak. I titled these four “must-wins” because they are winnable games in conference. If we can win those four to go along with one other win somewhere else in the schedule, we will finish 8-8 with a 7-5 or 8-4 conference record (depending on where the other win comes from). Conference record is huge when considering tiebreaker scenarios.
I am fairly confident we slip into the playoffs with eight wins because nobody in the AFC is good if you exclude the division leaders and the PIT/BAL loser. Right now the six seed is Indianapolis. Well, Indianapolis’ schedule gets significantly harder. Next in line is the 4-4 Dolphins. They may very well get the six seed, but rookie QBs tend to hit a wall once teams get a fair amount of tape against them. Also keep in mind; Miami has to face New England twice, Seattle, and San Francisco. Not an easy schedule by any stretch of the imagination. San Diego follows Miami. The Bolts have difficult games against Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, Pittsburgh as well as some other toss ups (@Jets, Cincy, and Oakland).
I am going to reiterate my previous statement. IF we can manage to win that stretch of four games (even if we are 3-7 at the time), we should sneak into the playoffs because of the external circumstances. At this point, we can only hope that Dennis Allen, Tarver, and Knapp can straighten out our problems. Have faith! Without faith and something to wish for, these games become unwatchable. I may be drinking the "wishful thinking" kool-aid, but you just never know. You just NEVER know.