AFC Playoff Picture - Who's the Last One In?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -Joel

Christmas Day is finally behind us, and while undoubtedly many will be going to the retail stores for returns and post-holiday bargains, Yours Truly has been taking a close look at which teams are fighting for that final playoff spot in the AFC. (Hey, at least the conference is pretty much decided at this point. Unlike the NFC.) While we could technically have five teams wind up with an identical 8-8 record (New York Jets, anyone?) only one can clinch. San Diego, Miami, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh all have a shot at the #6 seed; while the Steelers will need a lot of help to make it, it begs to ask the question: Which team will clinch as of Sunday?

Seeding Team W L T Div. Wins Div. Loss Conf. Wins Conf. Loss
1 Denver Broncos 12 3 0 4 1 8 3 AFC West Winner, 1st Round Bye
2 New England Patriots 11 4 0 3 2 8 3 AFC East Winner
3 Cincinnati Bengals 10 5 0 2 3 7 4 AFC North Winner
4 Indianapolis Colts 10 5 0 5 0 8 3 AFC South Winner
5 Kansas City Chiefs 11 4 0 2 3 7 4 Playoffs
6 Miami Dolphins 8 7 0 2 3 7 4
Baltimore Ravens 8 7 0 3 2 6 5 On the bubble
San Diego Chargers 8 7 0 3 2 5 6 On the bubble
Pittsburgh Steelers 7 8 0 3 2 5 6 On the bubble

Here are the Week 17 matchups to determine that final playoff spot:

New York @ Miami (1 PM Eastern, CBS) - For the Dolphins, it's one of the following scenarios:

  • MIA win + BAL loss will clinch. Baltimore defeated Miami in Week 5, so the Ravens' head-to-head advantage is negated.
  • MIA win + SD win will clinch. Miami defeated San Diego in Week 10, giving the Fins the head-to-head advantage.
  • MIA win + SD win + BAL win (+ PIT win) will also clinch for the Fins. The three-way (four-way) tie would be broken by conference record, and Miami would have the better conference record in this instance.

Baltimore @ Cincinnati (1 PM Eastern, CBS) - Cincinnati clinched the AFC North last week, while Baltimore stumbled against New England and are now fighting to defend their Super Bowl title. Here's how the Ravens can earn their chance:

  • BAL win + MIA loss + SD win will clinch. Baltimore would have the tiebreaker over the Chargers by virtue of a better conference record.
  • BAL win + MIA win + SD loss will clinch. Baltimore would have the tiebreaker over the Dolphins by virtue of a head-to-head record.

The Ravens can still clinch if they lose, but Pittsburgh, Miami, and San Diego would all have to lose their games as well. Miami would be eliminated by way of division record (as division records are applied first); San Diego would be out due to conference record; and Pittsburgh would be out with a 7-9 record.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (1 PM Eastern, CBS) - Out of the four teams that are vying for the #6 seed, it's the Steelers who need the most help. Not only do they have to beat the Browns, but all the teams technically ahead of them all have to lose. Again, division tiebreakers first. Miami would be out due to their 2-4 record in the AFC East. Baltimore would be out due to their 3-3 record in the AFC North (compared to Pittsburgh's 4-2 division record). San Diego would be out due to their conference record (5-7) compared to the Steelers' 6-6 record against the AFC.

Kansas City @ San Diego (4:25 PM Eastern, CBS) - With the Chiefs locked in at the #5 seed, the Chargers could be the third team from the AFC West to go to the playoffs with a win combined with a Miami loss and a Baltimore loss. The Bolts could still make it with a tie, but will need both the Dolphins and Ravens to lose.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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