AFC Playoff Picture

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After 8 weeks of action, things are starting to become clearer.

Seed

Team

Record

AFC

Contenders

Remaining Contenders

1

Chiefs

8-0

5-0

None

DEN (2), SD (2), IND

2

Bengals

6-2

4-1

W (NE)

SD, IND

3

Patriots

6-2

3-2

L (CIN)

DEN

4

Colts

5-2

3-2

W (DEN) L (SD)

CIN, KC

5

Broncos

7-1

3-1

L (IND)

KC (2), SD (2), NE,

6

Chargers

4-3

2-3

W (IND)

DEN (2), KC (2), CIN

7

Jets

4-4

2-4

W (NE) L (SD)

---

8

Titans/Ravens

3-4

---

---

---

Remember that seeding puts each division winner in the top 4 spots based upon record.  After that, the two wild card teams are decided by record.  This is why the Broncos are currently the 5th seed as opposed to the 2nd seed.

If the playoffs were to begin today, Kansas City and Cincinnati would have 1st round byes.  The Patriots would open wild card weekend at home against the Chargers, and the Broncos would travel back to Indianapolis to face off against the Colts.

If nothing changed by the end of week 17, it would almost guarantee the Broncos path to the Super Bowl would be entirely on the road.  Hypothetically, the Chargers could beat the Patriots and Chiefs setting up a potential AFC Championship game in Denver if our Broncos could defeat Indy and Cincy back to back.

Which ever way you slice it, the importance of the next 8 games is paramount.  During that time the Broncos will face off 5 times against a top 6 seed.  Same thing with the Chargers and Chiefs.  The team that has the easiest path will be New England who will only have one contender (Denver) on the schedule.

To me, the path to a first round bye and at least one home playoff game is simple.  Beat the West.  Round 1 will begin next week when the Broncos visit San Diego.

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