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Week 15 AFC Playoff Picture

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Three weeks left in the season and the AFC is officially a mess.  At 5-8 the Buffalo Bills are still alive and with a crucial Thursday night matchup here's a midweek look at the playoff chase.

In Need Of A Festivus Miracle

Buffalo Bills (5-8) What the heck, I'll include the Bills.  Their one-in-a-million shot likely ends this week with a date against New England, a team the Bills haven't been since 2003.  However, the Bills may play a historical role as they face unbeaten Indianapolis at home in Week 17.

Houston Texans (6-7) The Texans ended a four game losing streak with a huge win over Seattle and can keep the momentum going with a win over St. Louis this week.  Losing the head-to-head tiebreaker to Jacksonville is nearly a backbreaker.

Tennessee Titans (6-7) Tennessee's impressive second half continued after last week's thrashing of the Rams.  Now comes two important home games: red hot Miami this week and a Christmas home date against San Diego.  That conference record will likely keep the Titans out.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7) At this point, you can expect the unexpected with Pittsburgh after losses to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland in three straight weeks.  Ironically, those are the only AFC teams eliminated from playoff contention.  Back-to-back home games against the Packers and Ravens are must-wins.

 

In Need of Help

New York Jets (7-6) Just a few weeks ago the Jets were on life support but thanks to a shutdown defense New York has won three straight.  The Jets get Atlanta at home and a win keeps them in the race for not just the wild card but the AFC East title as well.

Miami Dolphins (7-6) Don't look now but the Dolphins have head-to-head tiebreakers over the Jets and Jaguars.  It doesn't apply just yet as Baltimore is in the mix.  Miami can bury Tennessee this week and put some real pressure on Jacksonville.  If the Dolphins win and the Patriots lose this week Miami will be leaders of the East.

Baltimore Ravens (7-6) The Ravens get the free-falling Bears at home this week and there's a far outside chance of winning the division.  If Jacksonville loses Thursday the Ravens will temporarily jump into the final wild card spot.

 

Controlling Their Destiny

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6) Thanks to a 6-3 AFC record the Jaguars are clinging to the sixth playoff seed.  Last week's loss to Miami opened up the floodgates in the AFC but a win over Indianapolis would be a much needed dam in the playoff waters.  However a loss would be devastating as it would force Jacksonville to beat New England on the road next week.

Denver Broncos (8-5) Denver gets Oakland at home this week but it's been such a year in the AFC that it shouldn't surprise anyone if the Raiders win.  A Denver loss delivers the West to San Diego and makes the final two weeks a free-for-all.  Even if the Broncos win they won't be out of the woods with four teams a game back.

 

Division Leaders

New England Patriots (8-5) Whether Randy Moss quit or not, New England's win over Carolina was huge as it keeps the Dolphins and Jets at arm's length for now.  New England has beaten Buffalo 12 straight times but we saw a similar streak end between Pittsburgh and Cleveland last week.  Nothing is guaranteed anymore for the Patriots.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) Last week's loss to the Vikings put Cincinnati a game behind San Diego for a first round bye and the number two seed.  A tip of the cap goes to the schedule makers as the Bengals travel to San Diego this week for a huge late afternoon showdown.

San Diego Chargers (10-3) The Chargers just keep rolling.  San Diego has won eight straight and can start making January plans with a win over Cincinnati.  Indicative of the season, even if the Chargers win this week they could still lose the division to Denver based on the common opponents tiebreaker.

Indianapolis Colts (13-0) The Colts have clinched the #1 seed in the AFC.

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