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NFL playoff picture: AFC heating up as Chiefs, Broncos, Steelers jockey for position

The NFL playoff picture continues to see changes as we get closer and closer. The Kansas City Chiefs maintain the fifth seed and top AFC Wild Card spot after beating the Baltimore Ravens for their eighth straight win to get to 9-5 on the season. The Houston Texans bumped the Indianapolis Colts out of the fourth playoff seed by taking over the AFC South lead. That means the Chiefs, if the playoffs started today, would visit the Texans in Houston. The Chiefs would possibly be favored in that game. And it's a team they've already beaten this season.

The Chiefs are one game behind the Broncos in the AFC West. If the Chiefs overtake the Broncos - KC holds the divisional tiebreaker as of now - then the Chiefs would likely take the No. 3 seed and the Broncos would be a Wild Card or out of the playoffs. The Bengals and Broncos play next week so something will happen with those seeds - either Cincy will solidify itself as the No. 2 seed or Denver will move on up. If the Broncos lose and the Chiefs win, the Broncos could be in some trouble.

So, yeah: the Broncos could win the AFC West ... or miss the playoffs entirely.

The Texans have very winnable games to end the season against Tennessee and Jacksonville. If the Texans go ahead and win those two then the Chiefs - if KC hasn't taken the AFC West - would face the Texans in Houston. That brings up the question of whether you would rather VISIT the Texans on Wild Card weekend or HOST the Broncos or Steelers.

Here's how the rest of the AFC playoff picture looks right now. Use the ESPN playoff machine for more scenarios.

AFC playoff picture

1. New England Patriots (12-2, 9-1)

2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-3, 8-2)

3. Denver Broncos (10-4, 6-4)

4. Houston Texans (7-7, 5-5)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5, 8-2)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5, 6-4)

Everyone else

7. New York Jets (9-5, 6-4)

8. Oakland Raiders (6-8, 6-4)

9. Buffalo Bills (6-8, 6-5)

10. Indianapolis Colts (6-8, 4-6)

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