(Image credit David Butler II/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
Last year starting Week 13 I did a weekly Playoff Picture article series detailing the current seeding of the playoffs. Well It has returned as I am doing this again. The Playoffs are getting closer and closer with each week that passes. Now there is plenty of football left to be played but again it is crunch time for some team. So until the playoffs hit I will continue to update the current playoff picture for both the AFC and NFC Conferences. For this article I will dive into the AFC conference.
Division Winners (Seed 1-4)
1. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
With the Bills winning against the New England Patriots and the Chiefs losing to the Bengals, the Buffalo Bills have reclaimed the 1st seed of the AFC Conference. Week 13 was a great week to be a Bills fan.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
Definitely a difficult week for Chiefs fans this week. Not only did they yet again not beat the Bengals, but with the Bills winning they moved to the 2nd seed. Should Chiefs fans be concerned? No. They are clearly going to the playoffs and winning this division. Plus they have a super easy schedule. I would not worry if I am a Chiefs fan.
Clinching Scenarios for the Kansas City Chiefs
AFC West Division
#1 Kansas City (Win) + Los Angeles Chargers (Loss)
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
Ok, it is now panic time for the Baltimore Ravens. Not only did they once again play down to competition against the Denver Broncos, but it looks like Lamar Jackson will be out for a few weeks due to a knee injury. They may be screwed if Lamar does not come back to form. I got to say though, they got to get Greg Roman out of the coaching staff as he has well passed his expiration date.
4. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
The Titans may have lost, but so did everyone in their division. I would be shocked if the Titans don’t win this division as pretty much everyone in this division are Tanking. They are in the Tournament for the 1st Overall Pick and the Titans should take care of business and win this division.
Wildcard Teams (Seed 5-7)
5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
It was scarier earlier in the year with how the Bengals were performing, but they got their act together. I think we are aware of what might be the Kansas City Chiefs Kryptonite and it is the Cincinnati Bengals. I would not be surprised if the Bengals win the AFC North now that QB Lamar Jackson is going to be out for a few weeks.
6. Miami Dolphins (8-4)
I am shocked that Tua came back and played, as he clearly was dealing with that ankle issue the whole game. This should be a wakeup call as the Dolphins Defense just collapsed. Especially when Brock Purdy took over when Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt. Purdy was at one point the 3rd string QB also and the Dolphins with the talent they have should not have performed that way.
7. New York Jets (7-5)
Tough loss for the New York Jets and there are two people to thank for this. First is the refs from yet again missing blatant penalties. Second is Mike LaFluer as the play calling has been abysmal. I will say Mike White is a lot better than Zach Wilson has been this year and even in the locker room. Luckily the Jets if the season ended today would make the playoffs and that is a plus.
In the hunt
8. New England Patriots (6-6)
Imagine if the Patriots did not have two hacks in Matt Patricia and Joe Judge running the offense. The Pats would probably win more games then they would have. The Patriots offense has been poorly run for so many weeks and it is holding this team back. The defense is at least performing well which is a plus, but something has to change on offense as this is not going to work if the offense plays the way they have.
9. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
So Chargers are you going to fire Brandon Staley now or at least Joe Lombardi? Yes I know injuries have heavily affected this team, but the poor coaching has not helped either. They just lost to the Raiders who were trying to give the game to the Chargers. If it was not for Justin Herbert being a Top 5 QB in the league, the Chargers would probably be fighting for a Top 5 Pick in the draft.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
Look, I have been very critical against the Steelers, but they have been impressing me lately. Pickett looks promising and they may really have something in him. All they got to do is get rid of Matt Canada and get a real offensive coordinator. This defense while playing well is mainly run better with TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Even though they would do better tanking for a top draft pick, the Steelers are sleepers making the playoffs. They have to face Baltimore (2x probably without Lamar Jackson depending on his knee injury), Cleveland, Carolina, and Las Vegas. That is a pretty light schedule, but it really depends on how the coaching goes via the coordinators as Matt Canada sucks running the offense, Teryl Austin is mediocre with how he runs the defense, and why Kieth Butler is still employed on special teams confuses me to this day.
11. Cleveland Browns (5-7)
Is anyone surprised that Deshaun Watson looks rusty? I ask this because it was obvious. The Browns are still a mess and I keep saying it, they are not a quarterback away from competing. Plus they faced the Texans last week and I am pretty sure Georgia University would beat them handily. This team is super overrated.
12. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)
I don’t care if they are still in the hunt, the Raiders are a terrible team that have gotten lucky the past few weeks. Last week they beat a poorly coached/beaten up Chargers team, a seattle team that played down to competition and an incompetent Broncos team. The Raiders are done and should be tanking to help build this team. Plus Josh McDaniels is still their head coach and is a downgrade. They are not making the playoffs just looking at their schedule, they are facing the Rams, Steelers, Patriots, 49ers, and Chiefs. All tough opponents excluding the Rams and maybe Steelers.
13. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1)
The Colts punted the season when they fired Frank Recih and hired Jeff Saturday to coach. If I was the Colts I would start either Nick Foles or ehlinger for the rest of the season as Matt Ryan’s arm strength is cooked. Elingher is the future and while he only played two games, it will benefit to see if he improves after a few weeks rest and a new coach. However if Ryan does get bench it looks like they would give it to Nick Foles as he is the current backup.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)
It is not looking good for the Jacksonville Jaguars making the playoffs. Even though I am not sure about QB Trevor Lawrence, he is freaking lucky that he was not seriously injured with that hit. The way it looked, I thought he was going to be out for the rest of this season and the 2023 NFL Season.
Somehow Not Eliminated Mathematically Eliminated
15. Denver Broncos (3-9)
The Broncos season is done and they are such a mess right now. What a complete waste of a performance from that defense. Russell Wilson has suffered through so much decline and is a distraction to this team. They are in a tough spot as Wilson has probably the worst contract in the league and has to stay in Denver. One thing is for sure, they have to fire Nathanial Hackett as he is easily the worst head coach in the NFL right now and he has had a disastrous first year with the team.
16. Houston Texans (1-10-1)
Well the Texans have now been eliminated from the playoffs. Is anyone really shocked? Anyone? The answer is no by the way.