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AFC Playoff picture tightening around wildcard berths

The AFC Playoffs are still eight weeks away, but the playoff picture is starting to take shape.

The AFC Playoff picture saw the Wildcard positioning tighten up this week, with multiple teams hanging around just one game out of the spot. With the league's Week 10 schedule now complete, the current playoff standing can be updated following the Houston Texans win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, knocking the Bengals from the ranks of the undefeated.

The New England Patriots (9-0, AFC East leaders) currently hold the top spot in the conference as one of the league's last two unbeaten teams, joined by the Carolina Panthers in the NFC. The Bengals then have the second position with an 8-1 record and the AFC North division lead, followed by the Denver Broncos with a 7-2 record and the AFC West division lead. The Indianapolis Colts round out the division leaders, tied with the Texans in the AFC South at 4-5 on the year, but currently holding the head-to-head advantage in tie-breaks.

The Wildcard is fairly straight forward right now, with the Pittsburgh Steelers sitting in the fifth seed position with a 6-4 record. The Buffalo Bills jump into the sixth spot after beating the New York Jets this week, tying them with a 5-4 record and pushing them into the seventh seed due to the head-to-head record.

Just outside the Wildcard tie are four teams, all 4-5 and a game behind the final spot. Included in that are the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, and Texans. The Chiefs take the eighth seed by use of several tie breaks, starting with the Raiders and using divisional tie breaks where Kansas City has the advantage in win percentage in common games; the Chiefs then hold the advantage over Miami based on AFC win percentage, and over the Texans based on head-to-head results.

Oakland takes the ninth seed position based on AFC winning percentage advantage over both the Dolphins and Texans. Miami is tenth due to the head-to-head advantage over the Texans, who find themselves tied for the Division lead, but in the 11th spot in the conference playoff standings.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are two games out of the Wildcard position, but just one game back in the Division standings, holding a 3-6 record on the year and the 12th position in the playoff standings. Behind them, three 2-7 teams take positions 13 through 15, with the Baltimore Ravens taking the top spot in the group based on AFC winning percentage, followed by the San Diego Chargers, then the Tennessee Titans.

The Cleveland Browns find themselves in the 16th and final position in the conference with a 2-8 record.

AFC Playoff Standings: