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2017 NFL Playoffs: The AFC Playoff Picture

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With the Texans out of the playoffs, who takes their place?

NFL: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since the 2014 season, the Texans will be sitting on the couch when the regular season ends. It’s a shame, but 4-10 teams don’t get to play in the postseason.

However, it is important to inquire, chat, and discuss what our AFC friends, foes, and family are up to so that we can see who’ll be toughing it out in that gross January weather during playoff football.

Current AFC Playoff Picture

New England Patriots (11-3): clinched AFC East, holds head-to-head tiebreaker over Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3): clinched AFC North.

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4): clinched playoff berth.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-6): leads AFC West.

Tennessee Titans (8-6): holds AFC win percentage tiebreaker over Buffalo and Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills (8-6): Holds strength of victory tiebreaker over Baltimore.


Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

Los Angeles Chargers (7-7)

Oakland Raiders (6-8)

Miami Dolphins (6-8)

Important Games This Weekend

Bills @ Patriots

The Patriots are currently in the driver’s seat in the AFC. If they win out, they will clinch home-field throughout the playoffs. Their job on Sunday is to beat the Buffalo Bills, a team they defeated just three weeks ago in their own building. A win over Buffalo would mean they need just one more victory to clinch home field throughout the AFC Playoffs. A loss to the Bills could spell disaster for the Patriots, as they could not only lose their chance to control their own seeding, but could also fall out of getting a first-round bye as well.

The Bills control their own destiny. If they win out, they will clinch a wild card berth. If they split the last two games, 9-7 could get them in the playoffs, but it does not guarantee it. Teams like the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans will be hot on Buffalo’s tail and could potentially beat them in tiebreaker scenarios. The only way to guarantee is a playoff spot is to win the last two games of the season.

Jaguars @ 49ers

If the Jags win, they clinch the AFC South. That would also keep their hopes of earning a first-round bye alive. The 49ers get to play spoiler like they did against the Titans last week.

Dolphins @ Chiefs

The Chiefs need one win in their last two games to clinch the AFC West after that huge win over the Chargers last Saturday. They are now two games ahead of the Raiders. A win over the Dolphins would earn Kansas City the fourth seed and the division crown.

The Dolphins need many things to go their way if they want to go back to the playoffs. The first thing they need is a win Sunday against the Chiefs. Then they need all or all but one of Tennessee (8-6), Buffalo (8-6), and Baltimore (8-6) to lose out and Los Angeles (7-7) to finish 8-8 or worse.

Rams @ Titans

Tennessee has dropped the last two games to non-NFC playoff teams, but now they draw a team that is playoff-bound. The Rams looked close to unstoppable on Sunday in Seattle, but the Titans’ playoff hopes increase significantly if they can get a win against the Rams. A loss does not mean the Titans are eliminated, but it likely means they’ll face a must-win game against the Jaguars in Week 17.

Colts @ Ravens

The Ravens may be out of the playoff picture right now, but they are probably the most likely wild card hopeful, thanks to the most favorable schedule of the bunch. They next face 3-10 Indianapolis squad at home. A win does not clinch a spot for Baltimore; they’ll need help, but it will put them in a very likely spot to clinch in Week 17 against Cincinnati at home.

Chargers @ Jets

LA really could have used that win last week against the Chiefs, but now that they don’t have it, they need to win their last two games to get in. The Chargers are on the wrong end of every tiebreaker, so they will have to be 9-7 after winning out and hope that other teams don’t get the job done down the stretch. It all starts Sunday at MetLife.

Where the Texans Play a Role

On Christmas Day, the Texans will look to try and put coal in the Steelers’ stockings and hand them a loss at NRG Stadium. A loss for the Steelers would be devastating, as it would likely keep the Steelers from getting a first-round bye. A win for Pittsburgh keeps them alive for a bye and makes them a very likely candidate to get one as they face the Browns in Week 17 at home.

The AFC playoff race may not be more interesting than the NFC, but it has some layers to it. There is still a lot to play out and several teams that can still make it, so there actually is some football to look forward to this weekend, even with the Texans out of contention.

Poll

Who are the AFC Wild Cards?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Tennessee, Buffalo
    (8 votes)
  • 52%
    Baltimore, Buffalo
    (37 votes)
  • 24%
    Baltimore, Tennessee
    (17 votes)
  • 11%
    Other
    (8 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now