AFC playoff picture: Week 15 to spotlight AFC South, Wild Card races

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When the NFL scheduled the Texans and Titans to play twice in the final three weeks of the season, it couldn’t have known that the divisional race would come down to those matchups.

That’s how things have worked out, though. The Texans have gone 4-3 over their last seven games while the Titans have gone 6-1 to close the gap ahead of their first meeting in Week 15. That will be one of the biggest games of the weekend, but not the only big one.

Sunday night will see the Bills and Steelers square off in a game that will help determine the Wild Card pecking order. The AFC South team that doesn’t win the division could factor into that race as well, so there’s still a lot to sort out even if the top of the conference is pretty well settled at this point.

Here’s how the entire playoff picture looks after Week 14:

LEADERS
1. Ravens (11-2) They’ve clinched a playoff spot and can wrap up at least the AFC North by beating the Jets on Thursday.

2. Patriots (10-3) Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs means they’ve now lost to all the other division leaders in the conference and they’ll likely be facing some of them again come January.

3. Chiefs (9-4) The offense hasn’t been as prolific as in the past, but they are AFC West champs again.

4. Texans (8-5) Getting blown out by the Broncos isn’t the preferred way to prepare for the surging Titans.

5. Bills (9-4) Their defense held up well against Baltimore, but the offense took a step back from Thanksgiving.

6. Steelers (8-5) Beating the Bills would make their improbable Wild Card bid tougher to stop.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Titans (8-5) The Titans posted 552 yards of offense on Sunday, so they may be peaking at the right time.

8. Browns (6-7) Sunday’s win was their fourth in five games, but it’s shaping up to be a case of too little, too late for Cleveland.

9. Raiders (6-7) Oakland’s been blown out three straight weeks to go from hopeful to just about hopeless on the playoff front.

10. Colts (6-7) Their inability to close out the Buccaneers all but closed out their playoff chances.

11. Broncos (5-8) They won’t make the playoffs, but they may have found their quarterback.

ELIMINATED
12. Chargers (5-8) No painful loss this weekend, but the Chargers are out of hope all the same.

13. Jets (5-8) Adam Gase beat his former team and that should allow the Jets stay out of the AFC East cellar this season.

14. Jaguars (4-9) Losing 45-10 to the Chargers showed the Jaguars need a lot more than a quarterback change to right the ship.

15. Dolphins (3-10) A pass interference review that went the Jets’ way and a failure to score touchdowns helped push them to a loss on Sunday.

16. Bengals (1-12) No winning streak for the Bengals as they got back to their losing ways against the Browns.