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Who will win the AFC wild card race?

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Realistically predicting the rest of the season it is clear that the Broncos, Chiefs, Patriots and Colts are all locks for the postseason.

With the other AFC North looking likely to be the Bengals, that leaves several teams fighting it out for the final wild card spot.

If Week 11 is anything to go by, no team wants this last wild card place. The Jets, Ravens, Browns, Chargers and Titans all lost.

Seven teams still sit with a realistic shot at snatching a ticket to the postseason, but who has the best chance of getting it?

New York Jets: 5-5

Schedule: @Ravens, Dolphins, Raiders, @Panthers, Browns, @Dolphins

The team that entered the week looking like the prime candidate for the last spot couldn't take advantage of a favourable matchup versus the Bills. However once again the Jets remain an enigma, they beat the Saints and Patriots but cannot win the games they should.

Rex Ryan has made the Jets one of the surprising successes of the season behind a good defense with a dominating defensive line. But his fate is shackled to Geno Smith, who continues to gift wrap the ball to opponents.

Smith has shown flashes of brilliance, but if he plays like he did this Sunday, Ryan's defense will be powerless to stop this team from missing out on the postseason. They hold their fate in their own hands with the best record of all the teams in the hunt and face an easy schedule littered with other teams who are playing for the last wild card place.

Baltimore Ravens: 4-6

Schedule: Jets, Steelers, Vikings, @Lions, Patriots, @Bengals

After a loss to the Bears in overtime the AFC North crown looks out of Baltimore's grasp. Their best hope of making the playoffs is getting the last wild card place. The reigning Super Bowl champions look lost on offense. The run game has been anaemic, Ray Rice is averaging under three yards a carry, and Joe Flacco has returned to his usual regular season mediocrity.

Without Boldin or Pitta, Flacco has struggled and is not capable of putting this team on his shoulders and winning games without significant help. The irony is that this year's defense is better than last, with Suggs and Dumervil providing a fearsome pass rush.

Their schedule looks brutal, and when you realise they might need to go 5-1 to make he playoffs Baltimore chances are slim. They have the talent to get hot and go on a run, but this offense cannot be trusted to produce anything.

San Diego Chargers: 4-6

Schedule: @Chiefs, Bengals, Giants, @Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs

This maybe the most frustrating team in the entire league, the Chargers cannot close out tight games and they are in bad shape because of it. A win at Miami was essential because they face the most difficult upcoming schedule of all these teams. However with the loss and with games at Denver and Kansas City the Chargers no need a minor miracle.

They have the best quarterback of all these teams in Philip Rivers but a porous defense has cancelled out a lot of Rivers pro bowl level play. The Chargers should of taken this spot based on talent and Rivers but their own mistakes and being in the best division in the league has them headed for another season the out the playoffs.

Tennessee Titans: 4-6

Schedule: @Raiders, @Colts, @Broncos, Cardinals, @Jaguars, Texans

At halftime on Thursday Night Football the Titans looked like they were in position to challenge for the AFC South title. At the end of the game, after another comeback win for the Colts the Titans playoff chances look slim.

With quarterback Jake Locker out for the season the Titans will have to rely on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick looked good against the Colts, but his inability to challenge teams downfield, allowing teams to focus in on Chris Johnson.

Outside of games with the Colts and Broncos, Tennessee have winnable games. But at 4-6 they have no margin for error. They need to play the controlled fast paced no huddle offense that almost beat Indianapolis and hope to pull an upset against Denver or Indianapolis to stand a chance.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-6

Schedule: @Browns, @Ravens, Dolphins, Bengals, @Packers, Browns

Surprisingly this team is still in with a chance of making the playoffs. After a historic demolition at the hands of the Patriots, the Pittsburgh defense looked done. Rumours of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's desire to be traded surfaced, but quietly his team has won two games since then.

After another poor showing in the first half against the Lions, the Steelers rallied and stifled the dynamic duo of Stafford and Megatron. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is key, he and Roethlisberger keep this offense ticking because of its complete lack of running game. Their schedule has given Pittsburgh a chance to beat other teams in this wild card race.

A game against the Packers with Rodgers back by then looks the only daunting game. They would require a consistency they haven't shown all year, needing five wins. This roster is full of holes but Roethlisberger and the coaching staff is capable of pulling off a little magic.

Cleveland Browns: 4-6

Schedule: Steelers, Jaguars, @Patriots, Bears, @Jets, @Steelers

The Browns missed their opportunity to establish themselves this Sunday after a blowout defeat to the Bengals. It’s a shame that a team that surprisingly has a lot of talent fails at the most important position if football.

The carousel of Weeden, Hoyer and Campbell seems to have settled on Campbell, but he is not capable of taking full advantage of great weapons like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.

The Browns defense is very solid, playoff standard even, but this offense is just not capable of putting up enough points to win. They would need to win games against the Steelers, Bears and Jets to stand a chance and does anyone truly believe Campbell is capable of that level of play consistently?

Miami Dolphins: 5-5

Schedule: Panthers, @Jets, @Steelers, vs Patriots, @Bills, Jets

Putting aside the most controversial issue surrounding this team at the minute, the Dolphins have positioned themselves to make a run at making the playoffs. Their schedule is tough, but the two games against the Jets, maybe their main rival for the wild card, are the key.

Winning the tiebreaker against the Jets is vital and then they need to find two more wins on the schedule to get to 9-7, Buffalo and Pittsburgh games appear winnable. However this team has several glaring issues however.

Even with Incognito and Martin, this offensive line couldn’t protect Ryan Tannehill, and now they’re in even worse shape. Tannehill isn’t performing to the levels of Wilson or Luck, he is still inconsistent. However a poor running game and the aforementioned offensive line are affecting Tannehill’s ability to get the ball downfield to Mike Wallace.

Their defense is underrated after an offseason free agent overhaul, but still struggle against both the pass and the run. But with impact players like Wake, Grimes and Odrick they are capable of improving.

The race for the final wild card spot will go down to the last week, with so many of the contenders playing each other it will likely be determined by tiebreaker. The Ravens and Chargers have the best quarterbacks, but face brutal schedules that they will not be able to overcome and the Browns and Titans lack the offensive firepower and have questions at their quarterback positions.

That leaves the Dolphins, Steelers and Jets in a straight fight for that last place. Whilst the Steelers have the experience and Roethlisberger, they have dug too much of a hole to pull themselves out of. So one of the AFC east teams will be the winner of this race, and surprisingly even to me it has to be the New York Jets.

Normally the kings of dysfunction and bad press, the Dolphins have taken that to a whole new level and that will ultimately be their failure. The Jets and Rex Ryan will protect Geno Smith and make sure he cuts down on his turnovers rely on their exceptional defensive line to lead them to the playoffs. They are a flawed team, but are the best of a flawed group of teams.

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Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers
Tennessee Titans
Baltimore Ravens
San Diego Chargers
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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