Week 12 AFC Playoff Picture
In Need Of A Festivus Miracle
Cleveland (4-6) It's good news, bad news for the Browns, who are three games out of a wild card spot. Good news: five out of their last six games are against division opponents. Bad news: same as the good news. For the Browns to get a postseason spot they'll have to navigate through the brutal AFC North.
Kansas City (4-6) The streaky Chiefs are two games behind division-leading Oakland but now Kansas City has to finish the season with either Tyler Palko or Kyle Orton at quarterback. It's not likely that either can jumpstart an offense that has scored a total of 16 points the last three weeks.
San Diego (4-6) The Chargers have lost five in a row but haven't played themselves out of it just yet. In the wide-open AFC West the Chargers have two keys games: this week versus Denver and Week 17 at Oakland.
In Need Of Help
Buffalo Bills (5-5) At one point, the Bills looked like serious contenders to win the AFC East. But during the current three game losing streak the Bills offense went south. Now with their best weapon, Fred Jackson, out for the year the Bills are on the brink of another non-playoff season.
New York Jets (5-5) The Jets face a crucial showdown with Buffalo this week but catch a breather after that with games against Washington, Kansas City and Philadelphia. However, the Jets were swept by New England and have a losing record in the AFC.
Tennessee Titans (5-5) The Titans are just two games back of Houston atop the AFC South but a 1-2 division record might derail any chance of winning the division. The tiebreakers also go against Tennessee for the wild card with losses to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. But there's hope as the Titans end the season with three divisional games.
Denver Broncos (5-5) It seems the Broncos are winning because of or in spite of Tim Tebow. Either way, they're winning and thanks to a three game winning streak the Broncos are in the thick of both the wild card and the AFC West race. Denver has two keys tests: this week at San Diego and Week 15 against New England.
Controlling Their Destiny
Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) The Bengals have been one of the surprises of 2011 but Cincy hit a wall the last two weeks with losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore. That suggests the Bengals aren't quite ready for prime time. The Bengals will face both teams again as well as Houston in Week 14.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) A head-to-head sweep at the hands of the Ravens puts the Steelers behind the eight ball in the AFC North. However, the defending AFC champs have a rather soft schedule to end the year with Kansas City, St. Louis and two games versus Cleveland.
Oakland Raiders (6-4) The Raiders hold a one game lead in the West and everybody is 2-2 in the division so there's no clear advantage. Oakland has injury concerns but Carson Palmer has the offense on the right track.
New England Patriots (7-3) Earlier in November the Patriots appeared to be losing their grip on the AFC East but the offense is heating up and the Patriots hold a two game lead. Now New England has the easiest path to the playoffs considering the Patriots don't have a team with a winning record left on the schedule.
Houston Texans (7-3) Thanks to a slight edge in the common opponents tiebreaker the Texans would have a first round bye if the season ended today. Houston gets Andre Johnson back from injury but now have to deal with Matt Leinert at quarterback due to the season ending injury to Matt Schaub.
Baltimore Ravens (8-3) The Ravens took a half-game lead in the AFC after Thursday's 16-6 in over San Francisco. Now Baltimore gets some rest and a breather in the schedule with Cleveland and Indianapolis on deck.