The NFL Playoffs are still several weeks away, but every game right now has impacts on the positioning for the postseason across the AFC. The league held three games on Thanksgiving, but only the late game, the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Indianapolis Colts game, included AFC teams.
What does the AFC playoff picture look like heading into Sunday’s games?
Current AFC Playoff Picture (Through Thanksgiving):
1. Oakland Raiders (8-2) - AFC West leader
2. New England Patriots (8-2) - AFC East leader
3. Houston Texans (6-4) - AFC South leader
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) - AFC North leader*
5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) - Wildcard 1
6. Denver Broncos (7-3) - Wildcard 2
Teams in the hunt:
Miami Dolphins (6-4)
Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
Buffalo Bills (5-5)
Indianapolis Colts (5-6)*
Tennessee Titans (5-6)
San Diego Chargers (4-6)
Not looking good:
Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1)
New York Jets (3-7)
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8)
Cleveland Browns (0-11)
*Teams played on Thanksgiving
- Oakland Raiders beat New England Patriots (both 8-2) based on winning percentage in common games.
- Kansas City Chiefs beat Denver Broncos (both 7-3) based on division record.
How the picture could change on Sunday:
Obviously, there are a ton of scenarios that will happen between now and the end of Week 17, but there are some changes that can happen this week to move teams into/out of the Playoff picture:
- Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens are currently 5-5 and in the eighth position for a six-team Playoff, but they will immediately jump up to the fourth seed as the AFC North leader if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
- Miami Dolphins - Miami is on a 5-game winning streak to climb to 6-4 on the year and one-game out of the Playoff picture. If they win on Sunday, beating the San Francisco 49ers, they should move into the sixth position following the conclusion of the Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos game - assuming one of those two teams wins, rather than the game ending in a tie.