Saturday NFL Liveblog: Jaguars, Titans Decide the AFC South

Jaguars WR Christian Kirk and QB Trevor Lawrence
Jaguars WR Christian Kirk and QB Trevor Lawrence
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 18 - It's the playoffs!

...OK, it's not literally the playoffs, but what else can you call a game where one team advances to play next week and the other team goes home?  That sounds like a playoff game to me, and the AFC South Championship between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans have those stakes!

...OK, so it doesn't literally have those stakes, as the Jaguars could sneak back into the playoffs if all the other AFC wildcard contenders flopped at the last moment. But it is win-or-go-home for the Titans, and a battle of two playoff-caliber teams!

...OK, calling these teams playoff-caliber might be a bit of a stretch. It's fine for the Jaguars -- they're 14th in DVOA at 1.8%, and their offense has really picked things up over the back half of the season. Trevor Lawrence is up to seventh in passing DYAR and 10th in passing DVOA, and is beginning to realize the potential he's been carrying with him, the presumptive first-overall pick since the moment he picked up a football at Clemson.  But the Titans? The Titans are stumbling along in the playoff race due to the poor general quality of the AFC South and not much else. Sitting at 7-9, and 23rd with a -8.4% DVOA, they've been forced to turn to Josh Dobbs in order to try to salvage a playoff berth which once seemed inevitable. But still, one win tonight and they're playing bonus football once more.

And we'll be covering it live in a special Saturday edition of the Football Outsiders liveblog, kicking off just before the game starts at 8:15 PM Eastern.  But we're also getting the post up early, as this will serve as an open-discussion thread for the Chiefs/Raiders opening act, where Kansas City can clinch the top seed in the AFC.  And we'll get into what that means, too. And because we're live, you can participate in the discussion as well! Join in on the conversation -- either in the comment section in this article, on Twitter by tagging @FBOutsiders or @BryKno, or on our brand new Discord server, where some of your favorite writers will be hanging out and reacting live.

Saturday Afternoon: Chiefs at Raiders

If this game gets particularly interesting, we'll pop on a bit early to cover the ending of it live, but the Chiefs are 9-point favorites and shouldn't have too much trouble pulling this one. Jarret Stidham impressed in his first ever start against the 49ers last week, and I wouldn't be at all shocked if the Raiders managed to escape with a backdoor cover -- the Chiefs are, after all, just 23rd in defensive DVOA and have had a nasty habit of playing down to their competition in recent weeks -- but when all is said and done, I expect the Chiefs to be celebrating the top seed in the AFC.

And that, in and of itself, will be somewhat controversial. As you're well aware, the Bills-Bengals game last Monday was cancelled due to Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest. And that's hugely important for the AFC playoffs, as both the Bills and Bengals had chances for the top seed depending on the outcome of that game. By not playing it, the Chiefs have been granted something of an unfair advantage. Through no fault of their own, mind you, but that's what has happened.

A win over the Raiders today will give the Chiefs the top seed in the AFC. That would have happened anyway, but only if you assume Cincinnati would have held on to win Monday's game.  Had the Bills won, they could have earned the top seed with a win over the Patriots, regardless of what the Chiefs do against the Raiders.  The Bengals, meanwhile, could have stolen the top seed with a win Monday, a win Sunday, and a Chiefs' loss today.  That's out of the picture now, with either the Chiefs or Bills still getting the top seed depending on what happens in the Bills-Patriots game tomorrow.

Because of this, the NFL has taken the unprecedented decision to declare that the AFC Championship may be played at a neutral site.  If both the Chiefs and Bills win this weekend, a Kansas City-Buffalo title game will be held somewhere neutral.  The same thing will happen if both the Chiefs and Bills lose, only with the Bengals also getting the benefits of the neutral-site title game if they should win, as well.  Here it is in a chart:

Is this fair? Not fully so, though it's difficult to find a solution that was fair to everyone involved; it's sort of a least-worst option. The Bengals lose the opportunity to host the AFC Championship game -- and possibly their wildcard game, which we'll talk about on Sunday.  They also don't get the benefit of a neutral-site game if they have to play in the divisional round against Buffalo  The Chiefs get a leg up, with them winning the bye week more frequently than they would if either the Bills or Bengals had won on Monday. Trading the possibility of a home AFC Championship is probably worth the extra chances at the bye week, as well as avoiding having to play either Buffalo or Cincinnati in the divisional round. That is, however, just how the cookie crumbles. Rescheduling the Bengals-Bills game and pushing everything back would have created inequities in rest, logistical nightmares around the league. Sometimes, you just have to make the best out of a bad situation.

In less depressing news, Patrick Mahomes could break two single-season records today. With 430 passing yards, he'd pass 2013 Peyton Manning's record of 5,477. It's a tall task for sure. Mahomes has only topped that mark once this year, in the Week 9 win over the Titans when he ended up just putting the entire team on his back and led them to win in overtime, making up for misses by his kicker and defensive failures and an utter lack of a running game. He'll need the Raiders' help to break that one, as it's not going down without a shootout.

A more reasonable target is the total offense record, which Drew Brees set in 2011 with 5,404 yards of offense.  Mahomes needs just 195 yards to break that, which seems almost a given if he plays the entire game; his lowest total this year is 220 against the Bengals in Week 13.  The total offense record isn't quite as exciting as the passing yardage record, but taking down a mark held by a presumptive Hall of Famer is always worth celebrating. To which we should also note that Mahomes has 27 touchdown passes to running backs and tight ends this season, one short of the record set by Y.A. Tittle.  Consider these marks consolation prizes, with the passing yards mark probably out of reach.

Saturday Afternoon: Titans at Jaguars

On November 17th, the Titans beat the Packers, 27-17. They had just won seven of their previous eight games, Ryan Tannehill was dealing through the air, and they held a healthy lead in the AFC South. At the end of Week 11, our playoff odds gave them a 97.8% chance to win the division. And why not!  They were sitting easy a 7-3; their closest rivals were the Colts at 4-6-1, and the Jaguars? 3-7 and not really worth being concerned about. The Titans were going to cruise to victory; it would take a minor miracle for anyone to catch them.

The Titans haven't won a game since.  They haven't scored more than 22 points in a game since.  Meanwhile, the Jaguars have been 5-1 since that bye week, including a win over these Titans back in Week 14. Trevor Lawrence threw for three touchdowns in a rout, beating the Titans in Tennessee for the first time since 2013.  The defense destroyed Tennessee, with four sacks and four turnovers leading to 20 points. The game ended 36-22, but even that's a bit flattering towards Tennessee, as the Jaguars scored 29 straight points and let their feet off the gas at the end.

To be fair to the Titans, they were missing three defensive starters for that one. And Tennessee did get to rest most of their key players in a meaningless Week 17 game; having a fully-rested Derrick Henry is a terrifying thing for most defenses to face. But they're still down to third-string quarterback Joshua Dobbs, as Ryan Tannehill is on injured reserve and rookie Malik Willis has not exactly won over the confidence of the coaching staff. The Titans might also be without receiver Treylon Burks and safety Amani Hooker, both of whom went from limited participation earlier in the week to not practicing on Thursday -- usually bad signs for participation, though I'm sure they'll do everything they can to hit the field in a must-win game. Watch their status, as well as cornerback Kristian Fulton, who has missed the last month with a groin injury but is working his way back towards participation.

As for the Jaguars? They're looking ready to rock. Travon Walker looks to have fully worked himself back into health, and everyone else should be ready to go.  The Jaguars are a better, healthier team on paper, which is why they're 6.5-point favorites. But they don't play games on paper; it's a terrible surface. Playoff games tend to bring out some strange results, so even though this one isn't technically a playoff game, it should be fascinating to watch.

6:15 PM: Chiefs at Raiders

So, how is this one going?

That didn't count, so the Chiefs had to score normally on the next play.  Boo.  Boo, I say!

Either way, with a 24-6 lead halfway through the third quarter, it's safe to say the Chiefs have won the AFC at this point.  Now, they'll need the Bills to lose to ensure they host the AFC Championship.  It's been an odd year.

6:46 PM: Titans at Jaguars

There is a record that can -- nay, will -- fall in this one.  Ryan Stonehouse is going to knock Sammy Baugh out of the record books.

In 1940, Baugh averaged 51.4 yards per punt. That record has stood ever since -- challenged by Shane Lechler, Andy Lee, Corey Bojorquez, etc -- but never beaten.  Until now.  Stonehouse comes in averaging 53 yards per punt; it would take an absolute nightmare of a game for him to lose it. And by nightmare, I mean averaging somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 yards per kick. It's just not going to happen.

Not to put any shade on Baugh, a true NFL legend, but he had some advantages Stonehouse did not. His record was set on only 35 punts; Stonehouse has about two and half times as many punts. Baugh also had quite a few quick kicks, booting the ball on first- or second-down without a returner back to field the punt. That gave him credit for rolls that Stonehouse just doesn't get. That was the way the game was played in 1940, and so Baugh's punting stats are slightly inflated by today's standards. For Stonehouse to break the record, despite that handicap? Impressive indeed.

7:16 PM: Titans at Jaguars

Good news for the Titans -- all the questionable players are active! Treylon Burks, Amani Hookier and Kristian Fulton are all good to go. They're not at full strength by any means, but they'll have enough ammunition to at least fight back against Jacksonville.  Here's to the best possible game.

8:08 PM: Titans at Jaguars

JHeidelberg, via the FO Discord: Has anyone had a 6 game losing streak at any time during the season and made the playoffs? I know that the Jets were 10-1 and lost 5 straight and made the playoffs at 10-6 in 1986. Then they won the first game of the playoffs

It's happened twice, actually!  The 1970 Bengals won the first-ever AFC Central title that way.  And the 2020 Bears slipped into the seventh seed despite going 0-6 in the middle of the year.

The 2014 Panthers deserve an honorable mention, as they went 0-6-1 over a seven-game streak on their way to the postseason.

The Titans would join an illustrious list.

8:30 PM: 7:20, 1st Quarter

Cagey beginning, which is polite speak for "nothing much going on".  The well-rested Derrick Henry has one rush for 10 yards...and four more for a total of seven.  Not much going on there.  Meanwhile, the Jaguars lined up for 4th-and-1 after Zay Jones slipped and fell, but they were just going with the ol' hut-hut and ended up punting.  Given the same choice, the Titans went for it on 4th & 3...and converted.  Something to keep in mind, there...

8:40 PM: 1:23, 1st Quarter

The Titans convert not one but two fourth-downs on their second drive of the game. Our model likes both decisions, as Tennessee is playing this like a playoff game. Which it is, for them! They've got to win! Time to open all the stops!

...Except maybe this one.  Leave this one in the playbook.

That's an illegal forward pass, which knocks the Titans back to the spot of their last fourth down conversion.  That basically necessitates the 51-yard field goal, and the Titans take the 3-0 lead.

8:54 PM: 9:21, 2nd quarter

The Jaguars get their first extended drive of the game, as things begin to settle in to more what I was expecting out of this one.  The Jaguars are, on paper, the better team, so seeing them move the ball effectively makes sense; they're averaging 4.6 yards per play to Tennessee's 3.8. It did require a big conversion on 3rd-and-13, but the combination of a too-soft Tennessee zone and the arm of Trevor Lawrence converts that one; an absolute bullet to Christian Kirk keeps the drive alive.  Yes sir, there's no way the Jaguars are coming up empty on this one, no siree...

I'm not sure why the Jags felt the need to get a little tricky there with the option pitch, but they're fortunate this one didn't go the other way. The Jags won in Week 14 in large part due to turnovers; this one goes against them, and it's still 3-0.

9:01 PM: 5:32, 2nd quarter

The Jaguars had 20 points off of turnovers in the Week 14 win.  The Titans now have seven tonight.

Derrick Henry is beginning to get warmed up after getting nowhere in the first quarter.  12 carries for 47 yards isn't all that astonishing, but he's averaging nearly five yards a pop since the Titans' first drive, and is beginning to punish defenders -- he had a hellacious stiffarm on his way to a first down. And then, with the Jags defenders sneaking up and Joshua Dobbs sitting at a sub-1.0 aDOT, Chigoziem Okonkwo goes up the sidelines...

10-0 Titans lead.  We weren't expecting that, now were we?

9:09 PM: 2:36, 2nd quarter

The ensuing kickoff after the Titans touchdown is a 54-yard return from Jamal Agnew. There's been a discussion about the difference between Ryan Stonehouse' gross punting and net punting stats; how much he's responsible for that versus his coverage units. Well, I know the kickoff and punt coverage units aren't exactly 1-to-1 comparable, but giving up a return like that does put a point into "not the kickers fault" box.

Excluding the weird flip, Trevor Lawrence has looked pretty darn solid so far.  11-for-13 for 98 yards and a touchdown.  The touchdown was a good throw, sure, but he was helped by perfect protection and a coverage scheme that seemed to just let Christian Kirk run free.

We have a ballgame.  Still 10-7 Titans, but at least it's not a runaway.

9:26 PM: End of the Second Quarter

Tight end.  Tight end.  Tight end.  Okonkwo and Hooper have combined for six of Tennessee's 12 receptions, for 69 yards and a touchdown. This is not surprising - the Jaguars are 31st in DVOA against tight ends and, well, Tennessee isn't exactly loaded at wide receiver; no one's going to even have 600 receiving yards on the team.

The Titans manage to drain the last 2:31 off the clock and kick a field goal, taking a 13-7 lead at the half. They've been controlling the ball for the vast majority of the contest; they've run 36 plays to Jacksonville's 20, and have held the ball for nearly 18 minutes. On a per-play basis, the Jaguars have still been better, but that doesn't matter so much when you don't have the ball. The turnover, and the decision to punt, are looming large. As things stand right now, the Jaguars would be counting on the other AFC wildcard teams to screw up if they wanted to get into the postseason; the Titans have the AFC South in their sights.  This is about as close to an even game as you can get.  I was fearing a blowout, so this is good!

9:52 PM: 10:09, 3rd quarter

Oh, Trevor.

The Jaguars' first drive of the second half is only their fourth possession of the game, and it's their best. Lawrence keeps the Jaguars marching right down field, converting a big third-and-7 to Christian Kirk, hitting Marvin Jones down the middle to get the Jaguars into the red zone, and has them set to take their first lead of the game.  On 3rd-and-7 from the 8, Zay Jones gets wide open in the end zone, and Lawrence...misses him.  Just plain overthrows it.

That HAS to be a touchdown.  4th-and-7 is a very, very tough decision spot, too.  The Jags opt for the field goal to cut the lead to 13-10, but that's a missed opportunity.

10:02 PM: 6:02, 3rd quarter

Josh Dobbs is playing...good?  Let's leave it at 'good'.  14-for-20 for 136 yards and a score isn't going to headline anything, but it's been efficient and effective when he's been asked to make plays.  And zero turnovers and zero sacks are great, too; avoiding making the back-breaking mistake.

They nearly make the backbreaking mistake when Derrick Henry, with multiple players draped over him, fires a pass into triple coverage, but a pass interference penalty bails them out some.  The drive sputters to a stop not long after, but it's in field goal range, and Randy Bullock makes things a 16-10 game for Tennessee.  Still just a one score game, mind you...

10:10 PM: 4:02, 3rd quarter

Christian Kirk is having himself a night.  Six receptions, 99 yards and a touchdown, as he keeps finding ways to get wide open.  He may have been an overpay, but he's at least delivering for Jacksonville tonight.

But this drive comes to naught, as the Titans force a punt.  That's another opportunity wasted for Jacksonville, and they're getting to the point where possessions are going to start coming at a premium. They might be limited to just two more possessions to eat into this six-point deficit; something has to give and soon.

10:18 PM: 0:41, 3rd quarter

Something has given, and soon.

The Titans ripped off a huge run from Derrick Henry...but a holding flag brought it back, pinning the Titans inside the 20.  On third-and-a-mile, Dobbs feels like he has to force a throw deep, when he really didn't have to...

Jaguars find themselves in scoring position...

10:24 PM: 14:49, 4th quarter

...And stop in scoring position, as well.  Jacksonville holds them to a quick three-and-out.  Faced with 4th-and-3 from the 18, the Jaguars opt to kick another field goal.

Our model has that as a small mistake; about a 2% loss in win probability. It's close enough that's probably fine as a judgment call, but the Jags have made a few of these judgment calls so far, and they're trailing 16-13.  They have to find a way into the end zone at some point, you would think...

10:39 PM: 9:45, 4th quarter

Three-and-out.  Three-and-out.  Three-and-out.   The fourth quarter has been spent going nowhere, which means it's been mostly played with Tennessee's back to their own end zone.  But we've lost about five minutes, and Jacksonville hasn't been able to cut into Tennessee's lead any more.  Something has to give at some point; we're surely not going to punt away the last ten minutes of this...right?

10:53 PM: 2:51, 4th quarter

Another three-and-out, and then the most exciting thing -- first downs!  The Titans start moving the ball and chewing clock.  Getting the ball with 8:06 left, the manage to drain five minutes off the clock.  And maybe thet get a little cocky, because they drop back to pass.  Josh Dobbs has no sense the pressure is coming from his blind side, and...

That's reviewed, and confirmed.  The Jaguars take a 20-16 lead with 2:51 to play.  WOW.

10:59 PM: 2:00, 4th quarter

We've hit the two-minute warning, with the Jaguars holding onto a 20-16 lead. More importantly, perhaps; Tennessee has the ball at midfield with all three time-outs remaining. It feels like there's another chapter to be written in this one.

It hasn't been the cleanest game in the world, but you couldn't ask for much of a better ending.  Redemption for Josh Dobbs? Or is Duval going to host a playoff game?

11:06 PM: 1:30, 4th quarter

4th-and-13, the game on the line, the season on the line.  What do you call? What brilliant play do you have in your arsenal?

...A little dump-off to Hassan Haskins that ends up four yards short of the first down. You're kidding me. Not even a throw to the sticks? Tennessee deserves to go home for that.

And go home they will.  Jacksonville is kneeling out the clock.  Tennessee is going to end the year with seven straight losses, and lose the AFC South.  What a disappointing end to the game.

...But hey, at least Ryan Stonehouse broke Baugh's punt record!  That's something, right?  No?  OK.

The Jaguars are going to the playoffs, and we're signing off the liveblog.  Congratulations to Jacksonville, and we'll see you tomorrow for the rest of Week 18!


43 comments, Last at 08 Jan 2023, 7:56pm

#1 by Sixknots // Jan 07, 2023 - 3:21pm

Ok, ok...I'm sure I'm missing something.  But, how is 5,477 passing yards not more than 5,404 yards of total offense?

Points: 0

#3 by Vincent Verhei // Jan 07, 2023 - 3:31pm

Individual passing yards do not include yards lost on sacks. Total offense does. Manning also lost yards as a rusher. 

In 2011, Drew Brees had:
5,476 passing yards
86 rushing yards
-158 yards on sacks
5,404 yards of total offense. 

In 2013, Peyton Manning had:
5,477 passing yards
-31 rushing yards
-120 yards on sacks
5,326 yards of total offense.


Points: 1

#2 by Anger...rising // Jan 07, 2023 - 3:22pm

Is this fair? Not fully so, though it's difficult to find a solution that was fair to everyone involved; it's sort of a least-worst option.

The least-worst option would have been to adhere to the rules that already existed.  You cease to have a sporting contest when rules can be changed midstream.

Points: 1

#6 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 07, 2023 - 4:17pm

The rules that already existed compelled the teams to finish the game. Once Hamlin was treated on the field and transported to the hospital, there was no more emergency affecting the remaining players.

But the league didn't force that, because it would have been disgusting. So they made one unprecedented decision and then tried to balance the scales as best they could.

Points: 1

#7 by Run dmc // Jan 07, 2023 - 4:26pm

I agree. As a Chiefs' fan however, I am not upset at the outcome. They bye is the big advantage. The Chiefs are 2-2 at home in AFC Championship games so its not like they are losing some huge home field advantage. The Chiefs had better road records in 2019 and 2020, although they have been better at home in 2018, 2021 and 2022.

Indianapolis looks like the perfect place to play as its just about equidistant from KC and Buffalo and it's indoors which is probably a plus for the NFL although I'm sure a lot of fans would prefer it to be outdoors.

Points: 2

#8 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 07, 2023 - 4:46pm

Indy apparently declined due to a conflict. Minnesota is possibly hosting a game, so I think that leaves Detroit and maybe (doubtfully) St. Louis as domed Midwestern NFL stadia.

Ohio State would be kinda cool though. 

Points: 1

#11 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:29pm

Detroit is out. They weee planning to replace their turf this year and accelerated their schedule once it became apparent the Lions couldn’t host a playoff game. 

Points: 0

#35 by John_Mosher // Jan 08, 2023 - 1:38am

Why does it need to be a domed stadium? KC and Buffalo are outdoor stadiums. 

Points: 0

#23 by NYChem // Jan 07, 2023 - 6:55pm

I'm not in the loop on these discussions, but for traveling fans sake I think it's best if it's new orleans. Given the decision comes down to goodell it will probably be Atlanta. 

Agree that Detroit makes the most sense, sucks that's not an option. There is no way they pick an outdoor stadium. Unfortunately... 

Although if they want a neutral site, what are the stadiums like in Switzerland?

Points: 1

#26 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 07, 2023 - 8:27pm

Not sure about Switzerland, but Vancouver's domed stadium seats about 60,000 for football.  It's Pacific time zone, though.

Edmonton's seats about 60,000 for football, too, but it's outdoors.  And Edmonton's really, really far north.  For a game in January.  

Points: 0

#29 by apocalipstick // Jan 07, 2023 - 9:16pm

Man, I'd love to see an NFL game at Mosaic in January. Just for grins and giggles, make 'em play on CFL field with CFL rules. Andy Reid might stroke out contemplating all the offensive possibilities of the waggle.

Points: 1

#40 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 08, 2023 - 2:40pm

Yeah if it can be anywhere you could have Soldier Field in Chicago or Lambeau Field in GB in the mix. GB if they get in will be a 7 seed so have no chance of hosting anything so their stadium would potentially be available too.

Points: 0

#9 by dwhitehead2010 // Jan 07, 2023 - 4:48pm

What doesn't seem to be addressed in this compromise is the potential divisional game between Cincinnati and Buffalo. Cincinnati was at home Monday night, leading the game and moving the ball on their second possession. If they had won the game and won their final game, they would have had the second seed at worst. Let's consider the most likely scenario, where Buffalo and Kansas City won their last games. Cincinnati would have had the second seed and would have probably played Buffalo AT HOME in the divisional round.

The compromise reached allows the AFC Championship to be played at a neutral field, and even potentially a Cincinnati-Baltimore game in round 1. But what about that divisional game? Why was that ignored? 

It seems to me that Cincinnati really got the worst result from this. I could have understood a compromise for only the AFC Championship game -- I guess you could argue that it's special, and that Buffalo potentially missed out on a bye. But why the extra consideration for the Cincinnati-Baltimore wild card game, and not the Cincinnati-Buffalo divisional game? It makes no sense to me. 

Points: 1

#10 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:10pm

Cincy and Buffalo will have played the same number of games so they are not using the coin, just the regular standings. If Cincy wins and Buffalo loses, Cincy is the 2 seed and hosts the WC and divisional over Buffalo. If the Bengals lose, the coin decides the WC and they are on the road for the divisional vs Buffalo. 

Points: 1

#15 by dwhitehead2010 // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:34pm

I get it. That's the rationale. It's not that I don't understand it. I just think it is unfair to Cincinnati. 

Points: 2

#16 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:37pm

They're saying it's no less fair than if the two had not been scheduled to play at all. Same as San Francisco and Minnesota in the NFC.

Points: 1

#19 by dwhitehead2010 // Jan 07, 2023 - 6:11pm

Yes, I do see your point. I don't think you see mine. The whole thing is based on counterfactuals. I think the AFC Championship compromise is a decent one, because both sides give up something. But once you start awarding Baltimore a neutral site wild card game, you are making assumptions about results (or the probabilities of those results) rather than just accepting that the game didn't get played. And I think that the way that they did it, by using the reasoning that you are parroting, is unfair to Cincinnati. It would be better to call the Cincinnati-Buffalo game a tie, with all that entails.

Points: 0

#20 by Bryan Knowles // Jan 07, 2023 - 6:18pm

I think the Cincinnati-Baltimore part is less fair than the #1 seed part, and I'm a little surprised they were a package deal.

Points: 0

#22 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 07, 2023 - 6:45pm

Are we talking about Cincy-Buffalo in the divisional or are we talking about Cincy-Baltimore? You are switching between them. 

If they had awarded Cincy and Buffalo a tie, as you suggest, then Buffalo would be alone in the 2 seed (as now) and Cincy would need a win plus a Buffalo loss to host the divisional game (as now). And Cincy would not have even had the opportunity to have a neutral site AFCCG (although KC is closing the door on that as I type).

Points: 0

#36 by Run dmc // Jan 08, 2023 - 7:09am

That is a great point. If I am thinking about this right ... the Raven-Bengal coin flip is happening because the Bengals COULD have lost to Buffalo and thus the Ravens would have won the North. 

By this logic, a Buffalo vs. Cincy matchup in the divisional round should be a coin flip because the Bengals COULD have beaten Buffalo.

And Cincy winning was the more likely scenario, they were at home, up 7-3 with the ball in Buffalo territory. ESPNs Gamecast gave them a win probability of 60%, and I believe they started the game with Bills as slight favorites (the Gamecast and partial stats have been wiped from the ESPN site) as the Bills were -2 point favorites.

The Bengals have a strong case for being AFCs strongest team going in to that home game. They have lost 4 games, 3 of which they will have avenged (Steelers, Browns and Ravens) and the other was the second game of the year on the road against a playoff team (Cowboys) and of course they beat the Chiefs (who by the way, smoked the NFCs "hottest team" the 49ers in San Fran.)

Therefore, assuming they would beat the Bills is not some wild stretch. The sole advantage they retain is winning the #3 seed by default, which gives them the privilege of hosting the Divisional game IF the Bills lose to the 7th seed (unlikely).

The disadvantage of the 6th seed (assuming the Bengals would have lost to the Bills and Ravens) is going to Arrowhead in the Divisional game instead of Buffalo. Either way, most likely they are going to have to beat the Bills and Chiefs on the road to make it to the SB, regardless of the order. If they can do that, we have to look at Joe Burrow on the same level as Mahomes.

Points: 1

#12 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:31pm

As explained above, they played the same number of games, so they don’t have to worry about the rest of it.

Points: 1

#13 by Tundrapaddy // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:32pm

I really appreciate the insightful color commentary in LV-KC right now.

While Maxx Crosby is incurring multiple dumb penalties and single-handedly allowing the Chiefs to go from 'punt from our own end zone' to 'in FG range and will score at least 3 if not 7 points', the color guys are extolling his virtues as a 'full motor, never gives up' kind of player.

Bringing 'The Smort' to sports broadcasting!

Points: 1

#14 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:32pm

The Chiefs are not good on defense. I suspect it’s gonna get them beat before the Super Bowl. 

Points: 0

#17 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:43pm

If they're allowed to mug receivers in the end zone without getting flagged, like they did to Adams on the Raiders' 4th-and-goal, then they'll be fine.

Points: 0

#21 by apocalipstick // Jan 07, 2023 - 6:43pm

That may have been a make-up for allowing the Raiders DB to clumb Valdez-Scantling like a ladder.

Points: 3

#24 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 07, 2023 - 7:29pm

I’m excited by the prospect of seeing a team other than Tennessee come out of the AFC South. Bored beyond tears with that team. Wish a friend of mine had bet the Jags to win the South like I told him to do at the start of the year! I even told him FO had all four teams in the league’s bottom 12, which made the 7-to-1 odds too good to pass up, IMO. 

Points: 1

#27 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 07, 2023 - 8:43pm

I bet the Jags to win the South! 


... And parlayed it with Seattle to win the West. As always, be smarter than me. Don't parlay. 

Points: 0

#30 by BigRichie // Jan 07, 2023 - 11:35pm

Bryan. Dude. Pay attention.

The final call wasn't "dump the ball off to the running back". It was "pass to this guy just beyond the sticks/no he's not open OK pass to this guy just beyond the sticks/no he's open either OK pass to oh crap the rush is on me rather than get sacked dump the ball off to the running back and pray for a Joe Flacco/Ray Rice miracle".

Bryan. Really.

Points: 0

#32 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 08, 2023 - 12:07am

Disregarding the results, still not a fan of the process of playing Dobbs over Willis. As expected, Dobbs doesn't really have a future in the NFL, meanwhile we're stuck with a small sample of mixed results on Willis. Such a wasted opportunity while Tannehill was down. That was their chance to confirm whether or not Willis has a viable chance at being anything. It was ok to assume that Dobbs was being tossed around the league for a reason. 

And Stonehouse another reason why you should leave ST to UDFA. 

Also, Bieniemy needs a head coaching job, like 4 years ago. Insane that McDaniels got his 3rd chance (yes the Colts count) before he got his 1st. 

Points: 0

#33 by sundesh // Jan 08, 2023 - 12:40am

Plenty of time to evaluate Willis. Dobbs at least gave them a prayer at playoffs. And that too they were doing OK with the short passing game moving the sticks and using run game late in 4th quarter. There was no reason to have Dobbs try a heave on 3rd and 5. A run and punt would've been just fine with the way the TN defense was playing.


Fire Downing!!

Points: 1

#34 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 08, 2023 - 12:48am

Tannehill didn't die and I don't expect the evaluation to be made with less data points. Willis could've given then the same shot at the playoffs. Having a guy come in off the streets probably ends up...exactly like this!

Points: 0

#39 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 08, 2023 - 10:52am

"Willis could've given then the same shot at the playoffs."

Clearly he could not have, or Vrabel would have started Willis instead of Dobbs.  We have a limited sample size of data points, the coaches have a much larger sample size.  Vrabel has watched Willis in practice and tried a late season hail mary with Dobbs rather than starting Willis.  That's all we need to know about what type of chance they had with Willis under center.

Points: -1

#41 by BigRichie // Jan 08, 2023 - 5:55pm

Yeah, if the results on Willis were "mixed", I'd hate to see what 'bad' looks like.

Points: 0

#43 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 08, 2023 - 7:56pm

Sorry, 1% difference

Willis has the higher ceiling. Defensive HCs seem to want higher floor. 

Points: 0

#37 by coltsandrew // Jan 08, 2023 - 8:45am

Has Bieniemy indicated any interest in being a head coach? Because if he's not interested, it'd be really weird to criticize the league for not hiring him.

Points: -2

#38 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 08, 2023 - 9:54am

Of course. He's not going on interviews every year for fun. 

And black coaches can't be picky, see Leftwich. 

Points: 3

#42 by BigRichie // Jan 08, 2023 - 5:57pm

How in the world did you get the idea Bieniemy is "not interested"??

Points: 0

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