The top of the AFC’s playoff picture has looked the same for some time now and there’s little reason to think the Patriots and Ravens won’t be able to remain in the top two spots.
What it will look like behind them is a bit less clear. Seven teams have five, six or seven wins to this point in the season and many of them will be playing each other in the coming weeks. That includes three games this weekend — Titans-Colts, Raiders-Chiefs and Browns-Steelers — that will have great impact on the eventual playoff competitors.
Those results will make the playoff picture clearer, but here’s how things stand after Week 12:
1. Patriots (10-1) Houston and Kansas City provide a pair of tough tests before things ease up in the final three weeks.
2. Ravens (9-2) If the 49ers can’t stop their offense, will anyone be able to shut them down this season?
3. Texans (7-4) They’re getting the Patriots at home this week while their closest divisional rivals face each other.
4. Chiefs (7-4) Got some help from the Jets against the Raiders and can all but finish the AFC West race this weekend.
5. Bills (8-3) The next four weeks are the toughest of the season for Buffalo, but they’ve put themselves in position to absorb a loss or two without fatally damaging their postseason bid.
6. Steelers (6-5) They benched their quarterback, but moved into playoff position ahead of a rematch with the Browns.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Raiders (6-5) Didn’t do themselves any favors in Week 12, but a win in Kansas City would brighten the outlook considerably for the Raiders.
8. Colts (6-5) A win this week would give them a sweep of the Titans that might be a factor if they need to break a tie come Week 17.
9. Titans (6-5) They have the Colts, Raiders and Texans over the next three weeks, which gives them a chance to make a big jump up the ladder.
10. Browns (5-6) A win over the Steelers this week would be four in a row and a shot in the arm for their Wild Card bid.
11. Jaguars (4-7) They’ve given up 699 rushing yards the last three weeks to run themselves out of playoff contention.
12. Chargers (4-7) Derwin James is set to return, but it looks like too little too late.
13. Jets (4-7) With the Bengals and Dolphins on deck, the three-game winning streak may be getting longer.
14. Broncos (3-8) A potential start for Drew Lock is about as intriguing as it gets in Denver these days.
15. Dolphins (2-9) They technically remain alive in the playoff race, but they probably won’t be there for long.
16. Bengals (0-11) Andy Dalton‘s back in the saddle with a two-game edge on competitors for the top pick in the draft.