AFC Playoff Picture After Week 14


With the completion of the 4:00 PM games all AFC teams have played their games for the week. With this in mind, we now have an accurate view into the standings for the final three weeks of the season.


(Overall Record, Conference Record, Division Record)

INDIANAPOLIS (13-0 overall, 9-0 AFC, 5-0 South)
--Indianapolis has clinched the AFC South
--Indianapolis has clinched the #1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs

SAN DIEGO (10-3 overall, 7-3 AFC, 5-1 West)
--San Diego leads Denver by two games in the AFC West
San Diego is currently the #2 seed

CINCINNATI (9-4 overall, 6-3 AFC, 6-0 North)
--Cincinnati leads Baltimore by two games in the AFC North
--Cincinnati is current the #3 seed

NEW ENGLAND (8-5 overall, 5-4 AFC, 3-2 East)
--New England leads Miami by one game in the AFC East
New England is currently the #4 seed

DENVER (8-5 overall, 6-4 AFC, 3-1 West)
--Denver trails San Diego by two games in the AFC West
--Denver is currently the #5 seed

So who is the #6 seed?

JACKSONVILLE (7-6 overall, 6-3 AFC, 3-2 South)

BALTIMORE (7-6 overall, 6-4 AFC, 3-2 North)

MIAMI (7-6 overall, 5-4 AFC, 4-2 East)

NEW YORK (7-6 overall, 5-5 AFC, 2-4 East)

First, we must resolve all ties among teams in the same division. Thus, the New York Jets are in the #9 position due to a 0-2 head-to-head record against Miami. Now that we have a three way tie among teams in different division, we can move on resolve the tie. The next tie-breaker would be a head-to-head sweep, however, this only applies if one team has beaten all others, or one team has lost to all others. As none of the three remaining teams have done so, this tie-breaker is thrown out. The next tie-breaking criterion is conference record. Miami, with a record of 5-4 in the AFC, is in the #8 position; Baltimore, with a 6-4 AFC record, is in the #7 position, and Jacksonville, with a 6-3 AFC record, will retain the #6 position.

So why the heck is Jacksonville still the #6 seed?

It’s simple. Because of the fact that Jacksonville, Miami, and Baltimore have not all played each other, the head-to-head record is irrelevant. So even though Miami beat Jacksonville, Jacksonville’s 6-3 AFC record compared to Miami’s 5-4 gives Jacksonville the edge. The reason that all of this occurs is that if Miami was given the position ahead of Jacksonville, they would either jump Baltimore, who has a better conference record, or Jacksonville would have to be placed behind Baltimore, despite Jacksonville having a better record. Simply put no one team can be penalized because of a team that it did not play. Now, if Baltimore was not 7-6, say they lost today and were 6-7; only then Miami would be placed ahead of Jacksonville as it would revert to a two team tie-breaker and thus head-to-head would matter again.

PITTSBURGH (6-7 overall, 4-6 AFC, 1-4 North)
--Pittsburgh holds head-to-head advantage over Tennessee

TENNESSEE (6-7 overall, 4-7 AFC, 2-4 South)
--Tennessee holds division record advantage over Houston

HOUSTON (6-7 overall, 4-6 AFC, 1-5 South)

BUFFALO (5-8 overall, 3-7 AFC, 2-3 East)

OAKLAND (4-9 overall, 3-6 AFC, 1-4 West)
--Believe it or not, they’ve still got a prayer.

MATHEMATICALLY ELIMINATED (But both are still alive and well in the $70 million draft pick sweepstakes)

KANSAS CITY (3-10 overall, 2-7 AFC, 1-4 West)

CLEVELAND (2-11 overall, 2-7 AFC, 1-5 North)


NEW ENGLAND (8-5 overall, 5-4 AFC, 3-2 East)

MIAMI (7-6 overall, 5-4 AFC, 4-2 East)

NEW YORK (7-6 overall, 5-5 AFC, 2-4 East)

BUFFALO (5-8 overall, 3-7 AFC, 2-3 East)

New England currently holds the edge in common games at 7-4, to Miami’s 7-5. New England and Miami both have yet to play Houston, while Miami also needs to play Tennessee. New England needs to play Jacksonville and Buffalo in common games. Any New England loss would, obviously, come to a common opponent, so with a loss, both teams would hold a 9-5 common record. However, the next tie-breaker would come down to conference record, and since all opponents for New England are still in the AFC, a loss would give Miami the tie-breaker. A loss to Buffalo means a 3-3 record in the East to Miami’s 4-2; while a loss to Houston or Jacksonville would make the best possible AFC record they could earn 7-5, while Miami would be at 8-4. Either way, if Miami keeps winning, New England has zero room for error. They are effectively playing single-elimination ball the rest of the way as well. Obviously, if Miami loses any of their remaining games; it would make all of this conversation moot…unless New England loses twice.


IND (13-0) @ JAC (7-6) (Thursday 12/17)
Just after a tough loss to Miami, Jacksonville gets to face an Indianapolis team that’s 13-0. Indianapolis has already clinched the #1 seed, and thus has nothing left to play for but perfection, but will they risk playing Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, or any of their other star players all game? Jacksonville may have a chance to steal this game just for that reason alone. A Jacksonville win keeps them in long at Baltimore wins too.

NE (8-5) @ BUF (5-8)
A New England loss has them scoreboard watching the rest of the season, as their division hopes will be at the mercy of Miami, and their Wild Card hopes will be at the mercy of Baltimore. The Bills were one fumble away from winning this matchup Week 1, they’ve proven that they can play with them; this will be one game that about a half dozen teams will be watching.

ATL (6-7) @ NYJ (7-6)
The Jets don’t have much hope of a playoff spot, thanks to a poor conference record and a sweep to division rival Miami, however, the door will shut completely with a loss to Atlanta. Atlanta is fighting for a Wild Card spot over in the NFC, and pushed New Orleans to the near limit in a loss Sunday. Rex Ryan and company may need more than a Christmas miracle.

MIA (7-6) @ TEN (6-7)
Tennessee is playing for pride, as their playoff hopes are slim to none at this point. They have established themselves as “That Team You Don’t Want to Play” nonetheless. Miami is in must-win mode, needing three wins and some help to make the postseason. A win keeps them in the conversation, and they can thankfully head home for their final two games.

OAK (4-9) @ DEN (8-5)
Now two games behind in the West, Denver is going to need some help if they’re going to win the division from San Diego. However, they hold a slim one-game lead over the pack for the Wild Card, and the best way to keep them out of the mess of 6-loss teams is to just keep winning.

CIN (9-4) @ SD (10-3)
A win for San Diego not only clinches the West, but a first-round bye as well. A win for Cincinnati will clinch them the North, and give them control of the #2 seed.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.