The AFC has wrapped up their Week 16 schedule, with four NFC teams playing the two prime time games this week. With that, we can now take a look at the current playoff standings with one week remaining in the regular season.
Entering this week, the AFC South was the only division that had crowned a champion, but the other three all locked up their respective champions today. Sitting on top of the AFC West and in the first seed for the postseason are the Denver Broncos, with their 12-3 record earning them the division title. Right behind them, at 11-4, are the New England Patriots, who locked up the AFC East title for the tenth time in eleven years.
The third seed in the playoffs, if they started today, would be the newly crowned AFC North champions, the Cincinnati Bengals. The AFC South division winners are the Indianapolis Colts, tied with the Bengals at 10-5, but losing the tie-break based on head-to-head performance this year.
All four division winners still have plenty for which to play next week, with none of the teams locked into their seeding, meaning first round byes could still be in play. Only Denver has locked up one of the first round byes, but could still lose the home-field advantage position if they lose next week and the Patriots were to win. If New England loses and Cincinnati wins, the Bengals would move into the second seed, earning a first round bye. Even Indianapolis could still climb from fourth to second, if both the Patriots and Bengals were to lose while the Colts win.
The only team without any thing for which to play next weekend are the Kansas City Chiefs, who are locked into the top Wildcard position, the fifth seed, with an 11-4 record.
The majority of the AFC fun next weekend will come with the sixth seed. Currently, the Miami Dolphins hold the position, winning a three-way, 8-7 tie over the Baltimore Ravens and the San Diego Chargers. The Pittsburgh Steelers, with a 7-8 record, are a game behind, but are not mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
No team controls their own destiny when it comes to the sixth seed next weekend. The Dolphins will need a win and a Baltimore loss or a San Diego win to claim the spot. The Ravens need a win and either a loss from Miami or San Diego. The Chargers need to win and see both Miami and Baltimore lose. And, Pittsburgh will need a loss from all three teams in front of them.
The Dolphins host the New York Jets next weekend at 1pm ET. Playing at the same time, the Ravens will visit the Bengals and the Steelers host the Browns. Finally, the Chiefs will visit the Chargers in the 4:25pm time slot, meaning that game could be the linchpin to solving the AFC playoff picture.
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