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AFC playoff picture: Chiefs' loss to Rams in classic big help to Patriots in standings

Ryan Hannable
November 20, 2018 - 9:07 am
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Monday night’s Chiefs-Rams classic was the best game of the NFL season so far and went a long way in making the AFC playoff picture more clear after Week 11.

Even though the Patriots were off this week, they were able to gain ground in the standings. They are in a decent position to where their play will control what seed they get in the postseason.

The No. 6 seed still has plenty of teams in the mix and will likely come down to the final week.

Here’s how the AFC playoff picture looks as of now.

1. Chiefs (9-2)

With the loss to the Rams Monday, the Chiefs are now only a half game up over the Steelers and one game up over the Patriots, Texans and Chargers. They still hold the inside track to the No. 1 seed, but have some tough games down the stretch by hosting the Chargers and taking on the Seahawks on the road. Kansas City has its bye this week.

2. Steelers (7-2-1)

Sunday’s comeback win over the Jaguars was huge for the Steelers as it kept them ahead of the Patriots and the rest of the pack in the AFC for a first-round bye. They have the toughest schedule the rest of the way with games against the Broncos and Chargers the next two weeks and then close the year with the Patriots, Saints and Bengals.

3. Patriots (7-3)

Even though they were off, the Patriots still gained some ground in the standings. Because of their win over the Chiefs earlier in the year, if they win out and the Chiefs drop one more game, the Patriots will get the No. 1 seed. But, it is worth keeping an eye on the Chargers as if both the Patriots and Chargers win out, the Chargers may own the tiebreaker because of record in conference. Like last year, the Week 15 game in Pittsburgh will be huge, and if the Chiefs continue to roll, that game could decide who gets a first-round bye.

4. Texans (7-3)

After a slow start to the year, the Texans are in a good position at the top of the AFC South standings. Two games up on the rest of the division and no games against any teams over .500 the rest of the way have them almost a lock for the AFC South. Houston has a big division game against Tennessee this week.

5. Chargers (7-3)

The Chargers are a sneaky team that controls its own destiny. If they win out, which includes games over the Chiefs and Steelers, they likely would be the No. 1 seed even if the Patriots win out. Sunday’s loss against Denver could serve as a wake-up call, or be an indication they aren’t as good as many thought.

6. Ravens (5-5)

Right now, Baltimore has the edge on the final spot over the four other teams tied at 5-5. They are a different team with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, but do have some tough matchups the rest of the way including games at Atlanta, at Kansas City and at Los Angeles (Chargers).

Still in the mix: Bengals (5-5), Dolphins (5-5), Colts (5-5), Titans (5-5)

Miami and Indianapolis meet this week in a sneaky big game when it comes to the wild card race. The winner of that game is in a good place, as the Dolphins have a number of games against the AFC East and the Colts have a favorable slate with a number of games against the poor AFC South. Cincinnati has a tough schedule with a number of division games and Tennessee’s blowout loss to the Colts was a bad sign. Right now, we like the winner of that Dolphins-Colts game to grab the No. 6 seed.

Related: Hannable: Rob Gronkowski is more important than ever to Patriots

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