Let’s take a look at the AFC Wild Card race heading into Week 14 of the NFL regular season.
As the NFL regular season heads into Week 14, the AFC wild card race is anything but over as there are ten teams that have a chance to end up in one of the two final spots.
It’s safe to say that holding a three-game lead in the AFC East at 10-2, the New England Patriots are going to win the AFC East. But other than that, every single division in the AFC is up for grabs. But who will win them and who will be stuck fighting for a wild card spot?. Let’s break this down division by division but let’s first look at what the AFC standings currently look like.
- Oakland Raiders (10-2)
- New England Patriots (10-2)
- Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
- Houston Texans (6-6)
- Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
- Denver Broncos (8-4)
- Miami Dolphins (7-5)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
- Buffalo Bills (6-6)
- Tennessee Titans (6-6)
- Indianapolis Colts (5-6)
- San Diego Chargers (5-7)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1)
- New York Jets (3-8)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
- Cleveland Browns (0-12)
Before we get to who’s in, let’s go ahead and eliminate those that have no chance of making the AFC Playoffs. The Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars have already been officially eliminated so there’s two. The New York Jets, even with a win on Monday night against the Colts, would still be four back of the six spot with four to play so I’m taking them out as well. With time running out in the regular season and too many teams to pass, I’m going to go ahead and eliminate the Bengals and Chargers as well. As for the Colts, a win against the Jets would not only improve their wild card chances but would put them right in the thick of things in the AFC South as well. Even a loss doesn’t take them completely out of the equation for the division, but it would take them out of the wild card race. So let’s keep going with the AFC South.
The Houston Texans currently sit atop the AFC South with a 6-6 record by virtue of holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tennessee Titans, whom they match up with the final week of the regular season. They also hold the tiebreaker over the Colts, whom they play this Sunday afternoon. All three teams also have a game left with the disappointing Jacksonville Jaguars, so things are going to get very interesting over the next four weeks. If this were election coverage, we’d probably be hearing “too close to call” over and over but it’s likely safe to say that the only team that will make the AFC Playoffs will be the division winner.
The Kansas City Chiefs currently hold the first wild card spot in the AFC at 9-3, one game behind the Oakland Raiders. But if the Chiefs can get a win on Thursday Night Football at home against their rival, they’d put themselves in the driver’s seat in the AFC West due to already having beaten the Raiders back on October 16 in Oakland. But let’s not forget about the Denver Broncos, who hold the final playoff spot at 8-4. The Broncos will control their own fate as they close out the regular season with a Week 16 date in Kansas City and a Week 17 matchup at home with the Raiders. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see all three of these teams in the playoffs.
As I mentioned earlier, the AFC East, barring any shocking developments, will be won by the New England Patriots. But the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills still have a chance at the wild card. The Bills will have a tougher road at 6-6 and will be tested this weekend with a home game against the up-and-down Pittsburgh Steelers. They also have a Week 16 matchup at home against the Dolphins and do have the luxury of having games against the Browns and Jets still on their schedule. The Dolphins currently sit just one game back of the coveted sixth spot and welcome the Arizona Cardinals to Miami on Sunday. They’ll follow that up with games against the Jets, Bills and will play the Patriots in Week 17, a team that may be resting players in that final week.
The AFC North is a two-team race. With the Browns and Bengals out of it, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens currently hold identical 7-5 records but if the playoffs started today, the Ravens would be in and the Steelers would be out due to Baltimore’s 21-14 win on November 6. The Ravens travel to New England this Monday night while the Steelers visit the Bills on Sunday afternoon. While there’s still a chance that both teams could get in, things could be decided in Week 16 when the Steelers host the Ravens on Christmas Day.
So who’s in? Who’s out? With only one division pretty much sealed up, the final four weeks in the AFC are going to be very interesting. Stay tuned to FanSided for all the latest AFC Playoffs coverage.