NFL

Which Games Would AFC Teams Love To Have Back?

on

A “kick me” game is one that a team had a great chance of winning, but failed to do so.  These are games that could affect a team by keeping them out of the playoffs or lose them home-field advantage.

A great example comes from the 2011 season when the New Orleans Saints lost to a terrible St. Louis Rams team on the road (a team that finished 2-14), thus costing them home field advantage in the postseason.  New Orleans had to travel to San Francisco, instead of being at home at the Superdome, where they hadn’t lost a game all season.  The Saints lost that game on an Alex Smith game-winning drive and their season ended.  If New Orleans had taken care of business against that putrid Rams team, they wouldn’t played all of their postseason games in domes (including the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium) and it’s very likely that Drew Brees and Sean Payton would have another ring.

Without any further ado, here are the “kick me” games from AFC teams in the first half of the season.

New England Patriots- 7-0- No kick me games, they’ve won them all.

New York Jets- 4-3- Week 3 at home against the Eagles: New York lost a game to a team that was reeling (24-21) and they turned the ball over four times.  That game could keep New York out of the postseason.

Buffalo Bills- 3-4- Week 7 in London against the Jaguars: Buffalo turned the ball over four times including two that were taken back for touchdowns in their 34-31 loss.  One fewer turnover would likely have led to a victory against an opponent that hadn’t experienced a win since Week 2.  This game is currently keeping the Bills on the outside looking in of a Wildcard.

Miami Dolphins- 3-4- Week 2 in Jacksonville against the Jaguars: The Dolphins have a superior roster to the Jags and they laid a major egg, despite holding Jacksonville to just three second half points.  This game is a double-edged sword, as it helped get Joe Philbin fired and the team is playing better since, but they are currently outside of the Top 6 seeds.

Cincinnati Bengals- 7-0- Undefeated, no “kick me” games.

Pittsburgh Steelers- 4-4- Week 1 at New England: The Steelers left six points on the board (missed field goals) in a game which they out gained the Super Bowl champs by over 100 yards.  Week 4 vs. Baltimore: The Steelers left six points on the board (missed field goals) in a game they lost by three in overtime, giving the Ravens their first victory of the season.  Those two games were winnable, and just one of them would have Pittsburgh in the postseason as of now.

Cleveland Browns- 2-6- The Browns have lost a couple close games, but they aren’t good enough for it to really matter at the end of the season.

Baltimore Ravens- 2-6- Every one of Baltimore’s six losses has been by one score or less.  Now the season is too far gone.

Indianapolis Colts- 3-5- Week 7 vs. New Orleans: The Colts held the Saints scoreless over the final 25 minutes of the game, but dug themselves too far of a hole and turned the ball over three times in a 27-21 loss.  Week 8 at Carolina: The Panthers struggled moving the football for most of the game and the Colts spotted them points by turning the ball over four times.  Indy became the first team in NFL history to lose an overtime game when they scored first.  The Colts are still tied for first place, but these two games would give the team some breathing room in a bad division.

Houston Texans- 3-5- Week 1 vs. Kansas City: The Texans committed two turnovers and pulled quarterback Brian Hoyer prematurely against what proved to be a bad Chiefs team.  Week 5 vs. Indianapolis: Houston was defeated in a close game by Colts backup QB Matt Hasselbeck.  The Texans turned the ball over twice and were too slow in switching back to Brian Hoyer in a seven-point loss.  Either of these games would put the Texans in first place in the AFC South by themselves, and the Colts loss would give them a tiebreak advantage.

Jacksonville Jaguars- 2-5- Week 4 at Indianapolis: The Jaguars missed two game-winning field goals and ended up losing in overtime, 16-13, to a backup quarterback.  Jacksonville dominated the game statistically and won the turnover battle by two.  Week 5 at Tampa Bay: The Jaguars had a second half lead before Corey Grant fumbled, which was returned for a touchdown.  Jacksonville turned the ball over twice and handed the Bucs their first home victory in 12 tries.  Week 6 vs. Houston: The Jaguars held a fourth quarter lead before turnovers sabotaged any chance of victory.  Jacksonville out-gained Houston, but turned the ball over three times in their 31-20 loss.  If the Jags win one of those three games then they have a share of first place; two and they’re in first by themselves with tiebreak advantages, and all three and they are running away with the AFC South.

Tennessee Titans- 1-6- Normally the last place team in the division doesn’t have much of a chance in this.  In the AFC South world that we live in, the Titans are just a game and a half out of first place.  Week 3 vs. Indianapolis: The Titans blew a 13-point lead with just under seven minutes to play in a game which they had eight more first downs and gained more than 50 yards than their opponent.  Week 5 vs. Buffalo: Tennessee out-gained the Bills by nearly 70 yards, had four more first downs and was even in the turnover battle in a 14-13 home loss. Week 7 vs. Atlanta: The Titans defense held the Falcons to just 10 points…and lost at home.  Give the Titans one of the those games and they’re right in the hunt with everyone else in the division title race.

Denver Broncos- 7-0- They’ve won them all.

Oakland Raiders- 4-3- Week 4 at Chicago: The Raiders dropped a game to the 2-5 Bears in which they allowed Jay Cutler to look like a Pro Bowl quarterback again and turned the ball over twice.  Week 5 vs. Denver: The Raiders turned the ball over three times and allowed a pick-six in a 16-10 loss.  If the Raiders win both games they would be tied for first place in the AFC West.  One game and they would have a comfortable lead in the Wildcard race.

Kansas City Chiefs- 3-4- Week 5 vs. Chicago: Kansas City was defeated by one of the league’s worst defenses and held to 17 points at home, blowing a 14-point lead.  Week 6 at Minnesota:  The Chiefs out-gained the Vikings, but could only score 10 points in the loss.  As bad as K.C. has seemed at times this year, just one of those games puts them in the Wildcard.  Both gives them a commanding lead.

San Diego Chargers 2-6- The Chargers have had some close losses, but with their injuries they’ve showed that they’re not a real contender this season.

 

 

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.