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AFC playoff picture: Thanks to Pittsburgh loss, Patriots move up in standings

Ryan Hannable
November 27, 2018 - 10:49 am

Week 12 is in the books and there are only five games left in the NFL regular season.

While there are still plenty of teams in the mix, things are becoming more clear at the top. The top five teams are pretty much set at this point, it will just come down to the order. Meanwhile, the No. 6 seed will likely come down to the final week as a number of teams still have a very realistic chance.

Kansas City had its bye this week, which is the final week of the year for bye weeks so all teams will be in action the rest of the season.

Here’s how the AFC playoff standings look heading into Week 13.

1. Chiefs (9-2)

Being a game up over the rest of the AFC, Kansas City is in the best position of any of the teams, but it does have tough games coming up, including a meeting with the Chargers in three weeks that could ultimately decide the AFC West. Besides that game, the only real tough game remaining for them is at Seattle in Week 16. If the Chiefs win out, they will be the No. 1 seed, but if not, things will get interesting.

2. Patriots (8-3)

The Patriots moved up in the standings thanks to their win over the Jets and then Pittsburgh’s loss to Denver. Right now, the Patriots would have the No. 2 seed because they hold the tiebreaker over Houston. If the Patriots win out and the Chiefs drop a game the rest of the way, they would be the No. 1 seed (unless the Chargers win out). The only real tough game remaining for New England is Week 15 in Pittsburgh. We just don't see Bill Belichick allowing them to lose in Miami again.

3. Texans (8-3)

Houston has won eight straight games and may have the easiest schedule the rest of the way. They only have one game left against a team with a winning record — the Colts in two weeks. With their win over the Titans Monday night, they have essentially clinched the AFC South title. The Texans could be a team to watch to potentially sneak into getting a first-round bye depending on how the teams ahead of them do.

4. Steelers (7-3-1)

As has been the case in recent years, the Steelers had a another bad loss late in the year this past week against the Broncos. Pittsburgh may have the toughest schedule left in the AFC with games against the Chargers, Patriots and Saints the rest of the way. Given their difficult schedule, they may need to eventually keep an eye on the Ravens when it comes to the AFC North race. Nothing is guaranteed in Pittsburgh right now.

5. Chargers (8-3)

This week is a big week for them as they will take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. This will give everyone a good idea of just how good the Chargers are and an idea if they can compete with the best of the AFC. If Los Angeles can win this week and then beat the Chiefs in three weeks, they would then have a real good chance at the AFC West and the No. 1 overall seed. If not, they are still in a good position to earn the No. 5 seed and will be a team no one wants to play on wild card weekend.

6. Ravens (6-5)

Baltimore’s schedule is tough, but not as difficult as Pittsburgh's. The Ravens take on the Chiefs and Chargers both on the road, which could make it difficult to hold off some of the teams behind them for the No. 6 seed. With that being said, if Pittsburgh continues to slip they have an outside shot at the division. Everything is still on the table for the Ravens.

In the mix: Colts (6-5), Dolphins (5-6), Bengals (5-6), Broncos (5-6), Titans (5-6)

Right now, we really like the Colts as they are one of the hottest teams in the entire league. Their schedule is pretty favorable the rest of the way with the toughest game being at Houston in two weeks. Besides the Colts, the Dolphins are the team to potentially keep an eye on and maybe Denver, but their slow start may be too much to overcome. Cincinnati and Tennessee are trending in the wrong direction.

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