Importance of AFC No. 3 seed

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers could potentially be a dangerous playoff team. Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The top two seeds from each NFL conference will be the only ones receiving first-round playoff byes, but the third seed from the AFC might be in line for the next best thing -- a date with one of the worst sixth seeds in memory. Such is the sorry state of the "race" for the final playoff spot in the conference. Nine teams with records ranging from 4-7 to 5-5 are in the running, and none has outscored its opponents by even one point per game on average.

This heaping pile of mediocrity can be tough on the eyes, but one current general manager and a former personnel director independently selected the same 4-6 team as the one most likely to raise its game. It wasn't the team currently inhabiting the sixth slot, either, for the New York Jets have been outscored by 8.5 points per game on average, far worse than the worst differential for any of the 4-6 playoff teams since the 1970 merger. They had another team in mind.