Even though just two weeks remain in the 2014 NFL regular season, three-quarters of the AFC has a chance to claim a postseason berth. Twelve of the conference’s 16 teams are still in playoff contention, heading into Week 16.
All but one division title has been clinched, but three teams are alive in the race for the AFC North championship. Nine teams could potentially claim a wild-card berth, and each division winner is fighting for a bye in the first round of the postseason.
Below is the current AFC playoff picture and a look at each team’s chances of making the postseason. Click here for all NFL tiebreaking procedures.
No.1 New England Patriots (11-3, 3-1, 8-2) AFC East
The Patriots are in control of their own destiny, as they look to grab the top seed in the conference. Having clinched the division title, there’s a good chance they’ll end the season with home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, as they visit the Jets and host the Bills to end the season.
No.2 Denver Broncos (11-3, 5-0, 9-1) AFC West
Denver has already wrapped up the division, and they are just one victory away from securing a bye. Because of their loss to New England, they’ll need to finish with a better record if they want home-field advantage. The Broncos close 2014 against the Bengals and Raiders.
No.3 Indianapolis Colts (10-4, 5-0, 8-3) AFC South
No team in the AFC playoff picture has less to play for than the Colts. They’ve clinched first place in the AFC South, but can only get a bye if they finish with a better record than the Patriots or Broncos. Indianapolis owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bengals and Ravens, but not the Steelers. The Colts visit the Cowboys and Titans in the next two weeks.
No.4 Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1, 3-2, 6-4) AFC North
The first-place Bengals are expected to be underdogs in their final two games, as they host the Broncos and visit the Steelers. Cincinnati will clinch a playoff spot with one more victory.
No.5 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5, 3-2, 7-3) Wild Card
Even though they trail the Bengals in the division, Pittsburgh controls their own destiny because of their Week 17 matchup against Cincinnati. The Steelers are three-point underdogs in their Week 16 visit to Kansas City.
No.6 Baltimore Ravens (9-5, 2-3, 5-5) Wild Card
The Ravens will need help to win the division, since the Steelers and Bengals both have a better record within the division. If they win their last two games against Houston and Cleveland, as the betting odds would indicate, Baltimore is guaranteed no worse than the No.6 seed.
No.7 Kansas City Chiefs (8-6, 2-3, 6-4)
Their Week 16 matchup with the Steelers could be the biggest game in the final two weeks, in terms of deciding the AFC wild-card winners. A loss for Kansas City and a win for Baltimore would knock the Chiefs out of contention.
No.8 San Diego Chargers (8-6, 2-3, 6-5)
They would lose the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record as the Steelers, but the Chargers do have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Ravens. San Diego has two tough games ahead, though, visiting San Francisco and Kansas City.
No.9 Buffalo Bills (8-6, 3-2, 4-6)
The Bills are looking to avoid tiebreaker scenarios, since they are below .500 in the conference and have key losses to the Chiefs, Chargers and Texans. They visit the Raiders in Week 16 and make a trip to New England in the regular season finale.
No.10 Houston Texans (7-7, 3-2, 6-4)
Nine victories would give them a strong conference record and the edge in several tiebreaker scenarios, but the Texans have to hope that two of the wild-card contenders don’t win 10 games. After hosting Baltimore, Houston has a very winnable game when they play a home contest against Jacksonville.
No.11 Miami Dolphins (7-7, 3-2, 6-5)
Miami is out of the AFC East race and has been all but eliminated from playoff contention. Losing two games in a row to the Ravens and Patriots likely spelled the end of the Dolphins’ hopes. They have one of the easiest remaining schedules of any wild-card contender, hosting the Vikings and Jets.
No.12 Cleveland Browns (7-7, 2-3, 4-7)
Cleveland can’t win the division, and their poor conference record makes it virtually impossible for them to win a wild-card spot. Even if the teams in front of them lose the rest of their games, it won’t be easy for the Browns to win at Carolina and Baltimore.