All but one playoff spot in the AFC has been secured. Each division has been clinched, and the Kansas City Chiefs are locked in as the No. 5 seed. That leaves just the second wild card spot up for grabs.
Four teams are still in contention for the final playoff berth. The Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens failed to separate themselves in Week 16 with losses. The San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers kept themselves alive with victories. Miami, Baltimore, and San Diego all have 8-7 records, while Pittsburgh is 7-8.
Even though the Dolphins lost on Sunday, they moved past the Ravens and own the current tiebreaker. The Dolphins advance to the postseason if they win, the Ravens win, and the Chargers win. The Ravens beat the Dolphins head-to-head, but Miami’s win over San Diego forces the tiebreaker to be based on the teams’ conference records.
Also, if the Dolphins win and the Ravens lose, the No.6 seed belongs to the Dolphins.
Should the Ravens, Dolphins, and Chargers all lose, then the Ravens would advance. Baltimore will also make the playoffs if they win, and the Dolphins lose. Another scenario for the Ravens to advance is if they win, the Dolphins win, and the Chargers lose.
In no scenario do the Chargers hold the tiebreaker over any team that is still alive. They need to win and hope both the Dolphins and Ravens lose.
San Diego could be eliminated before they even take the field in Week 17. They’re set to play at 4:25 p.m. ET, while the other contenders for the AFC wild card will start at 1 p.m. ET. The Chargers will host the team with the second-best record in the conference, but it could end up being one of their easier games in the 2013 NFL season. The Chiefs are locked into the No.5 slot with nothing to play for. There’s a good chance many of Kansas City’s starters will rest for their playoff game on the following weekend.
The Steelers have only one chance of getting in, and it’s a longshot. Since they are the only one of the four that is not 8-7, they need to win and hope the other three teams all lose. That would put five teams at .500, given that the New York Jets would get a win over the Dolphins and move to 8-8. In that scenario, Pittsburgh would win the tiebreaker.
Week 17 Schedule
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers