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Breaking down the AFC playoff picture entering Week 16

Ken Pomponio Avatar
December 23, 2016


Two weeks remaining and only two spots clinched with nine teams still vying for the remaining four positions.

That’s where we stand with the American Football Conference playoff picture entering Christmas weekend.

Your 8-6 Denver Broncos are still in the mix, of course, but after four losses in their last six games, they’ve slipped to ninth in the conference and essentially now need to win out and receive some additional help to get the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl crown. Oh, and they’re still saddled with the toughest remaining schedule of the bunch, the Orange & Blue’s playoff prospects are not particularly bright.

Anyway, your full AFC playoff picture entering Week 16:

No. 1 seed: x-New England Patriots (12-2)

  • Remaining schedule: Jets, at Dolphins
  • Remaining opponent combined record: 13-15 (.464)
  • Quick read: The Pats can put the wraps on the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed by beating Bryce Petty and the sagging Jets on Saturday and then having Andrew Luck and the Colts win later that afternoon in Oakland.

No. 2 seed: x-Oakland Raiders (11-3)

  • Remaining schedule: Colts, at Broncos
  • Remaining opponent combined record: 15-13 (.536)
  • Quick read: Yes, the Silver & Black will be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, and the next step is winning the West. A win against Indy and a K.C. loss to the visiting Broncos on Christmas night would do the trick.

 No. 3 seed: Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)

  • Remaining schedule: Ravens, vs. Browns
  • Remaining opponent combined record: 8-20 (.286)
  • Quick read: The Christmas Day showdown against Baltimore is finally at hand, and Pittsburgh will be trying to avenge a 21-14 road loss in Week 9 when the Ravens took advantage of less-than-healthy Big Ben Roethlisberger.

No. 4 seed: Houston Texans (8-6)

  • Remaining schedule: Bengals, at Titans
  • Remaining opponent combined record: 13-14-1 (.482)
  • Quick read: Tom Savage is in, and Brock Osweiler is back to his all-too-familiar seat on the bench after a rocky 13-and-a-half games at the helm. Regardless, the Texans are a win and a Titans loss Saturday away from wrapping up their second straight AFC South title.

No. 5 seed: Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

  • Remaining schedule: Broncos, at Chargers
  • Remaining opponent combined record: 13-15 (.464)
  • Quick read: KC has lost control of the division lead, but Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and Co. can clinch a postseason spot by having the Ravens lose Sunday afternoon or by completing a season sweep of the Broncos later that night.

 No. 6 seed: Miami Dolphins (9-5)

  • Remaining schedule: at Bills, vs. Patriots
  • Remaining opponent combined record: 19-9 (.679)
  • Quick read: Adam Gase’s South Beach bunch controls its own destiny after winning eight of its last nine and can officially lock up in a spot in the tourney with win Saturday in Buffalo followed by a Denver loss in K.C. the following day.

In the hunt: Ravens (8-6), Titans (8-6), Broncos (8-6), Colts (7-7), Bills (7-7)

Quick read: Let’s see: Trevor Siemian and the Broncos have managed to score only 13 points over their last two games and are now facing a Chiefs’ D still smarting from last week’s last-second loss to the Titans. And they’ll be on road at night in what’s sure to be an amped-up Arrowhead Stadium. Yeah, we don’t particularly fancy their chances, either.

Eliminated: Bengals (5-8-1), Chargers (5-9), Jets (4-10), Jaguars (2-12), Browns (0-14)

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


x – clinched playoff berth


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