The AFC playoff picture remains fluid as we enter Week 17.
The postseason picture in the AFC has gotten a tiny bit clearer this afternoon. Pittsburgh rallied from a 24-7 deficit to stun the Indianapolis Colts, clinching the AFC North, while the Browns suffered a devastating loss on the road to the Jets.
How have the early results shaken up the playoff picture? Let’s go team-by-team for the remaining AFC contenders to break it down.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)
The Chiefs clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to a wild finish in a close win against Atlanta. Next week is meaningless for them.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
The Steelers clinched the AFC North with their stunning win. They can lock in the No. 2 seed with a win and at least one Bills loss.
3. Buffalo Bills (11-3)
The AFC East champions can pick up the No. 2 seed in the AFC with two wins to end the season. That is significant since it would guarantee a home game on Divisional Weekend if Buffalo advances that far.
4. Tennessee Titans (10-4)
The Titans can clinch the AFC South title on Sunday night with a win. If that doesn’t happen, Tennessee needs to win next week to get the division title or simply secure a playoff berth.
5. Miami Dolphins (10-5)
The Dolphins are currently the top wild card team and can clinch a playoff berth with a win against Buffalo next weekend. A loss to Buffalo would mean Miami needs help in the form of either a loss out of Baltimore, Cleveland or Indianapolis. The other option would be two Titans losses.
6. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
The big winners on the day were the Ravens, who move into the field on the strength of a head-to-head sweep over Cleveland and a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Colts. A win over Cincinnati next week gets Baltimore in the playoffs while a loss could still get the job done if they get a loss from one of Miami, Cleveland or Indianapolis.
7. Cleveland Browns (10-5)
Week 16 was devastating for the Browns, who lost to the Jets and need to beat the Steelers next Sunday to get into the playoffs. A loss there would mean the Browns need help from either one Colts loss or two Titans losses to back in as a wild card.
8. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
The Colts are on the outside looking in after their collapse in Pittsburgh but can still get in the playoffs with a home win over Jacksonville and some help. Indianapolis needs to get a loss from either Cleveland, Miami or Baltimore to pass them at 11-5 or two losses from the Titans to clinch the AFC South at 11-5.
The bottom line is that a 10-win team will miss the playoffs in the AFC, which seems remarkable with the expanded postseason field. It would mark the first time that happened since 2015 when the New York Jets went 10-6 but missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker to the Steelers.