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2018 NFL Playoff Picture: The AFC Playoffs (Week 16)

We try to paint an abstract picture.

Houston Texans v New York Jets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The Texans are two wins away from a first-round bye! This is not a drill! I repeat: The Texans are two wins away from a first-round bye!

Currently, the Texans hold the No. 2 seed in the AFC Playoffs with the Chiefs one game ahead, therefore making Kansas City the current site of home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. However, both the Texans and Chiefs hold incredibly fragile real estate that could be swiped away from them with a loss in either of their last two games.

The No. 1-seeded Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) have been the top seed in the AFC for weeks, but a loss last week to the division rival Los Angeles Chargers has put their top seed and division title in serious jeopardy. The team still controls its destiny, but they need to win this week against the playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks (8-6). A win and an LA Chargers loss would ultimately clinch the top seed, division, and home-field for the Chiefs, but with the Chargers red hot, it could be difficult to shake them off.

The No. 2-seeded Houston Texans (10-4) looked dead in the water after three straight losses to begin the season, but wins in ten of their last eleven games have them in striking distance of a bye. Despite their current placement in the AFC Playoff Picture, the team still has a chance to miss the NFL Playoffs entirely. Of course, it’s incredibly unlikely, with a myriad of scenarios needing to come to fruition. More importantly, one more win for the Texans will clinch the AFC South division title for the team. They can do that this week against the Eagles or the following week at home against the Jaguars. Additionally, if division rivals Indianapolis and Tennessee both lose, Houston can also clinch a division title.

The No. 3-seeded New England Patriots (9-5) are coming off a pair of heartbreaking losses but are still in the driver’s seat to clinch their tenth consecutive division title. One more win will do it, and the Patriots are at home for their final two weeks against the Bills and Jets. New England needs to finish the last two weeks with a better two-game record than Houston if the team wants a bye. In order to obtain the top seed in the AFC, the Patriots need Los Angeles and Kansas City to lose out and Houston to lose at least one of their final two games.

The No. 4-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1) exhaled after defeating the Patriots in the late block of Sunday afternoon’s games. The win moved Pittsburgh a lot closer to a division crown. A win and a Ravens’ loss now will clinch the AFC North, but with a game on Sunday against the Saints in New Orleans, it does not seem likely that the Steelers will clinch its playoff berth this week. Pittsburgh needs a little luck from Saturday’s game in LA to hopefully fall their way.

The No. 5-seeded Los Angeles Chargers (11-3) hold the conference’s best record, but the team has no guarantees of even hosting a playoff game this postseason with the simple fact that they have been roadblocked by the Chiefs.

A Saturday night game against the No. 6-seeded Baltimore Ravens (8-6) is incredibly crucial and will play a large role in how the AFC Playoffs will end up. Neither team is in the position to clinch anything as the Chargers already have a playoff spot locked up. A loss by the Ravens could ruin their chance at a playoff berth altogether, although that would require that the Steelers, Titans and Colts all win this weekend. Nonetheless, Saturday’s game in LA will strongly impact two of Sunday’s biggest games and what their stakes are.

On the outside looking in right now are the Indianapolis Colts (8-6), Tennessee Titans (8-6) and Miami Dolphins (7-7). But none of them are dead yet.

The Dolphins’ loss to the Vikings on Sunday killed their momentum and significantly damaged their playoff hopes. Miami needs to win out and get some help from the teams above. It starts on Sunday when they face the Jaguars at home.

The Colts and the Titans are on a collision course to potentially have their Week 17 showdown as a play-in game for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. All that would have to happen for that to remain a possibility is a Ravens loss to the Chargers, a Colts victory over the Giants, and a Titans win over the Redskins on Saturday.

This weekend is going to provide a ton of clarity as we head into Week 17. Hopefully, this post cleared up some of the fog. Blast off in the comments below on what you think will happen this weekend.


Who will the Texans face in their first playoff game?

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