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Who will win the AFC's sixth playoff seed?

  • By Lyle, the Around The League intern
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And now, another wholly organic email chain from the Around The League team:

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From: Hanzus, Dan
Sent: Monday, November 18, 2013 11:04 AM
To: Rosenthal, Gregg; Sessler, Marc; Wesseling, Chris; Brie, Alison
Subject: ORGANIC EMAIL CHAIN

Who wants the sixth playoff seed in the AFC?

We wrote about this last week, and the situation has managed to get even more muddled following Sunday's games. It's almost impressive how much some of these teams don't want it.

The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, even Sessler's Cleveland Browns are in position to win this Battle Royale of Relative Suck.

So I ask you, fellow ATL colleagues, WHO YA GOT?

MS: The Browns have left me emotionally dead within, so I can't logically pick Cleveland.

They lack a quarterback, but two teams in this race -- the Steelers and Chargers -- do not. Pittsburgh's the sexy pick, but I'm rolling with San Diego.

The Bolts are messy, but this entire list qualifies as a semi-disaster. It's my firm belief that the Chargers, behind a reborn Philip Rivers, will suck just a little bit less down the stretch.

DH: Gross. Sessler was Team Jets, like, 10 minutes ago.

MS: Nonsense. I can't stake my pick on Geno Smith. You said it yourself on Sunday, Dan, that you no longer believe in Geno.

Rivers, meanwhile, has seven small children at home and can WING the ball. The man can multitask. #LetsRoll.

CW: All of these teams are flawed in one obvious fashion or another, but the Steelers are the easy choice for me.

I asked on last week's podcast if you guys honestly believed any of these teams could get hotter than Pittsburgh can down the stretch. They have the best quarterback-coach combo of all the teams. As Gregg would say, winning is "in their DNA."

GR: Other than the Bills, none of the remaining schedules leap off the page as wildly easy. I can't take Buffalo or the Jets because of their quarterback play. The Titans and Raiders are barely worth mentioning. I love Rivers, but the Chargers' schedule is a little rough. Nothing good happens to the city of Cleveland.

That leaves Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Both teams are flawed, but this is a deeply flawed race. I like the winner of their Week 13 game to get on a roll and make it. I'm sticking with my preseason pick: Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger is not out of this MVP race yet.

DH: I'm assuming Gregg is only kidding about his wayward Big Ben for MVP prediction coming home. Either that or The Boss got to the stuff kept under the kitchen sink. That said, I agree the Steelers and Ravens are the two teams most likely to settle into that No. 6 seed. I want to make a case for my Jets, but it's hard to breathe when I'm trapped beneath the wreckage of this GenoCoaster. Ralph Wiggum: "Twisted steel is heavy!"

Here's one dark horse: How about the 4-7 Bills? Legitimate home-field advantage, built to play in the cold, and their next three opponents have a combined record of 5-25. Dream a little dream, denizens of Orchard Park.

GR: Wait. Dan is a Jets fan, AND he started this email chain and ... he didn't actually answer the question, did he? What is this, a Mike Shanahan press conference?

DH: Oh, yeah. My pick is the Ravens. The world is eternally gray.

CW: As for dark horses, I see a one-horse race, and its name is "Yinzer."

MS: I'll admit, I hold a glimmer of hope that Cleveland can be the spoiler here. If they can beat the Steelers at home on Sunday, turning Wesseling's poetic Steel City musings into rubbish, and take care of business against the Jaguars, they're 6-6.

But that's when an angry fleet of UFOs would burst into the ether to destroy all civilization ... so my dark horse is Miami.

GR: I like that this entire group of teams is so ugly that Miami -- a team tied for the last spot -- is a perfectly legitimate dark horse. I agree with Marc; Miami has a real chance. Tannehill is capable of going on a run, and the defense has enough difference-making pieces.

Every Dolphins game comes down to the final possession. Maybe they will just start getting lucky as karmic payback for having to hang around Richie Incognito for years.

DH: Never forget.

We recapped every Week 11 game on the latest "Around the League Podcast."

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