If the playoffs started today (they don’t), the Patriots would be in.
That wasn’t the case 24 hours ago, but the Patriots’ win over the Cardinals on Monday Night Football put them into the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC. It’s going to be a close race over the final four weeks of the season to see if the Patriots can stay there.
Here’s how the AFC playoff picture looks heading into Week 15:
1. Bills (10-3) Buffalo has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kansas City.
2. Chiefs (10-3) One win away from clinching the AFC West.
3. Ravens (9-4) Baltimore still leads the AFC North thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati.
4. Titans (7-6) Not playing good football right now, but probably going to win the AFC South.
5. Bengals (9-4) Locked in a tight race with the Ravens down the stretch.
6. Dolphins (8-5) Sunday night’s loss to the Chargers will hurt.
7. Patriots (7-6) In the wild card lead with four games to go thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets and the conference record tiebreaker over the Chargers.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
8. Chargers (7-6) They own the tiebreaker over the Jets because they have a better record in AFC games.
9. Jets (7-6) This week’s game against the Lions is big for both conference’s wild card races.
10. Jaguars (5-8) They own the tiebreakers over the Browns, Raiders and Steelers based on the best AFC record.
11. Raiders (5-8) Have a better AFC record than the Browns and Steelers.
12. Browns (5-8) Have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers.
13. Steelers (5-8) Mike Tomlin needs to win out to avoid the first losing record of his career.
14. Colts (4-8-1) They’re not totally out of the AFC South, but they’d need the Titans to collapse.
NO CHANCE OF GETTING IN
15. Broncos (3-10) Mathematically eliminated.
16. Texans (1-11-1) Mathematically eliminated.