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AFC playoff picture: Broncos Country populated with Miami Dolphins fans this Sunday

Ken Pomponio Avatar
December 30, 2015


One Sunday to go, two postseason berths up for grabs. That’s the state of the NFL entering Week 17, and both of the open playoff spots are in the AFC.

One will claimed by the winner of the AFC South, and the other is a wild-card berth to be settled between the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.

As for your Denver Broncos, they could still finish anywhere from the AFC’s top seed down through No. 6 – aside from the fourth seed which will go to the AFC South champ.

To earn the No. 1 seed, the Orange & Blue need a win over the Chargers and a New England Patriots’ loss in Miami on Sunday. The Pats walloped the Dolphins 36-7 back in Week 8 but have suffered 33-20 and 24-20 setbacks in their last two visits to South Beach.

Here’s your full AFC playoff picture entering the final Sunday of the regular season:

No. 1 seed: x-New England Patriots (12-3)

  • Week 17: at Dolphins
  • On the line this week: Despite Sunday’s overtime loss to the Jets which featured Bill Belichick’s infamous decision to kick off starting the extra session, the Patriots already have clinched their sixth straight first-round bye and can secure the top seed with a win or a Broncos’ loss.

No. 2 seed: y-Denver Broncos (11-4)

  • Week 17: Chargers
  • On the line this week: The Orange & Blue still haven’t put the wraps on the AFC West title, needing a win or a K.C. loss against the visiting Raiders. As aforementioned, a Patriots’ upset loss earlier Sunday would also open the door to the conference’s top seed.

No. 2 seed: x-Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

  • Week 17: Ravens
  • On the line this week: Cincy will either finish as second or third seed, needing a win and a Denver loss to achieve the former.

No. 4 seed: Houston Texans (8-7)

  • Week 17: Jaguars
  • On the line this week: The Texans simply need a win Sunday or an Indy loss to Tennessee to clinch the AFC South. If neither happens, Houston likely still wins the division given the Colts’ long-shot laundry list of Sunday outcomes that have to fall just right.

No. 5 seed: y-Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)

  • Week 17: Raiders
  • On the line this week: K.C. is the league’s hottest team with nine consecutive wins but is going to need a 10th – and a Broncos’ loss – to complete a miracle-like march to the top of the AFC West.

No. 6 seed: New York Jets (10-5)

  • Week 17: at Bills
  • On the line this week: The Jets need to beat former coach Rex Ryan or have the Steelers stumble against the Browns to punch a postseason ticket. If neither happens, Ben Roethlisberger and Co. will have survived their disastrous Week 16 loss in Baltimore and leap-frog back into the playoff picture.

In the hunt: Steelers (9-6), Colts (7-8)

Eliminated: Raiders (7-8), Bills (7-8), Jaguars (5-10), Dolphins (5-10), Ravens (5-10), Chargers (4-11), Browns (3-12), Titans (3-12)

If the season ended today: Wild-card round – (3) Bengals vs. (6) Jets, (4) Texans vs. (5) Chiefs. Divisional round – (1) Patriots vs. Texans, Chiefs or Jets; (2) Broncos vs. Bengals, Texans or Chiefs

x – Clinched division title; y – clinched playoff berth

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