AFC playoff picture: Just one January ticket left

AP

Five down, one to go.

With a 37-28 victory over Denver on Monday night, the Bengals secured their fourth consecutive AFC postseason berth. They are the fifth team to clinch a spot in the AFC playoffs, joining the Patriots, Broncos, Colts and Steelers.

This leaves the Chargers, Ravens, Texans and Chiefs playing for one wild-card spot on Sunday as the regular season draws to a close. The Chargers and Chiefs are each aiming to make the playoffs for the second straight season, while the Ravens and Texans last made the postseason in 2012.

Here’s how the playoff seeding shapes up through Week 16. The NFL’s standings, playoff scenarios and tiebreaking rules were cited:

THE BIG SIX

1. New England Patriots (12-3, .800). AFC East winner. Has clinched No. 1 seed and first-round bye. Will have homefield advantage throughout conference playoffs.

2. Denver Broncos (11-4, .733). AFC West winner. Will clinch No. 2 seed and first-round bye with win vs. Oakland. Will also clinch first-round bye with Cincinnati loss or an Indianapolis win at Tennessee and a Cincinnati tie.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1, .700). AFC North leader. Has clinched playoff spot. Will win AFC North with victory/tie at Pittsburgh (8:30 p.m. Eastern, NBC). Can clinch first-round bye with win over Pittsburgh and a Denver loss to Oakland. Would also clinch first-round bye with a tie, a Denver loss and an Indianapolis loss/tie.

4. Indianapolis Colts (10-5, .667). AFC South winner.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5, .667). Wild card No. 1. Has clinched playoff spot. Will win AFC North with victory vs. Cincinnati.

6. San Diego Chargers (9-6, .600). Wild card No. 2. Will clinch playoff spot with win over Kansas City. Can also clinch playoff spot with tie and Baltimore loss/tie.

STILL IN THE MIX

7. Baltimore Ravens (9-6, .600). Will clinch wild-card spot with win vs. Cleveland and San Diego loss. Can also clinch playoff spot with tie and San Diego loss.

8. Houston Texans (8-7, .533). Will clinch wild-card spot with win vs. Jacksonville and losses by San Diego and Baltimore.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (8-7, .533). Will clinch wild-card spot with win vs. San Diego, a loss by Baltimore and a loss/tie by Houston.

14 responses to “AFC playoff picture: Just one January ticket left

  1. Just sit tight. Everybody only wants to see Seattle/GB and Denver / New England.

    But we all know nobody is coming into Foxborough to WIN against Tom and his F’bombs, Gronk and his number emphatuation, and Bill and his hoodie.

    Objectively it’s simply never happening and this will be the 4th consecutive afc game, 9/14 years, through many close seasons and since New England has
    NEVER BEEN IN A GAME OUT OF PLAYOFF CONTENTION SINCE 2000. We will finally get to see Toms 4th ring and welp, Gronk is on the roster for longer than Manning, so this is far from finished for them.
    This is not fanboy ism but the reality again of how great New England is, spygate or not.

    But as I’m sure you Spygate experts and historians know, we still have the cameras in place since the last Arizona SB, so were good for a win.

    And if you thought Cameras could help a Quarterback retire with SB appearances in HALF..1/2.. Of his seasons in the NFL (absolutely feasible for Tom), you probably lost to Tom and have a B class team and understanding.

    ‘Good luck’ to all teams.

  2. By a strange coincidence the Bills lost to the Chargers, Texans and Chiefs, and that is the biggest reason why they are out of the playoffs and those teams are still in the hunt.

  3. “Don’t see any of these teams coming into Foxboro and beating the Pats”

    And the Pats have zero chance against Seattle.

  4. Got no skin in this, but I also see no team winning in Foxboro. But if there is one…Steelers are trending up on both sides of the ball and they have a legendary D coord.

  5. Steelers are unable to be 2nd seed. This is between bengals and broncos. Only #1 #4 and #5 seeds are set. The only team that will be able to beat the patriots in foxborough is baltimore- and they are gonna need a big Christmas present in order to even get in the mix. But like I said- nothing this year would surprise me. Wouldn’t doubt it if the texans slipped in and took it all the way to the championship with a 4th strong qb. That would be somethin wouldn’t it?

  6. Pittsburgh Steelers, the greatest sports franchise in the history of the world. The mystique, the great American steel city. Without Brady the pats aren’t much. He has been the patriots playoff realm. Talk about a one man team. If he got smashed and knocked out of season and Ben was out, I see Murkowski leading Pitt to easy victory at FB

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