The AFC playoffs have the same four division winners as a year ago, although the order of seeds is different. Kansas City would get a BYE in this instance, and while the Chiefs may not be the second-best team in the conference, the schedule helps them quite a bit.
Both of the wild card teams are different, with the Chargers and Texans getting in. Los Angeles narrowly missed last season, finishing 9-7.
Here’s how it all shakes out one more time…
1. New England Patriots (12-4)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)
6. Houston Texans (10-6)
In this scenario, the Jaguars would host the Texans while the Chargers go to Pittsburgh for a date with the Steelers. While Jacksonville has a great defense, take Houston. Deshaun Watson is a much, much better player than Blake Bortles. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh handles business at home, in what could possibly be Ben Roethlisberger’s swan song at Heinz Field.
Now, we’re left with this:
1. Patriots vs. 6. Texans
2. Chiefs vs. 4. Steelers
New England isn’t losing at home, although Houston is a worthy for. The Texans have a real case as the heir apparent to the Patriots in the AFC. On the other side, the Chiefs never win at home in January. They also never beat the Steelers. That won’t change even if the quarterback has.
1. Patriots vs. 4. Steelers
Take the two sentences above, and make that about the Patriots and Steelers, except in reverse. For the first time since the 1990-93 Bills, a team goes to three straight Super Bowls.