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AFC Playoff Picture: Colts vs. Patriots looms large for Broncos

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A Colts win at home against the Patriots on Sunday would put the Broncos right back into the #1 seed in the AFC. A loss almost certainly knocks Indy out of contention for a playoff bye but is not catastrophic for the Broncos.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos either need to finish in a three way tie for the #1 seed (at which point head to head tiebreakers go out the window) or finish a game ahead of New England. Here's where things stand entering week 11 in the AFC:

Team

Seed

Record

%

Division

AFC

Key Wins

Key Losses

Next

Patriots

1

7-2

.778

2-1

5-2

Den, Cincy

KC, Mia

@Ind

Broncos

2

7-2

.778

3-0

5-1

Ind, KC, SD

NE

@StL

Colts

3

6-3

.667

3-0

5-2

Bal, Cincy

Den, Pit

NE

Browns

4

6-3

.667

2-2

4-3

n/a

n/a

Hou

Chiefs

5

6-3

.667

1-1

5-2

NE, SD, Buf, Mia

Den

Sea

Bengals

6

5-3-1

.611

1-2

4-3

Bal

Ind, NE, Cle

@NO

Steelers

7

6-4

.600

2-3

5-3

Ind

Cle

@Ten

Ravens

8

6-4

.600

2-3

3-4

---

Ind, Cincy 2x

Bye

Broncos

They have the best winning percentage in the conference with only one loss (NE) to an AFC opponent. This is big because when we get down to tiebreakers, the conference winning percentage is third down the line.

Browns

It is odd to find a team without some "quality wins." And while the Browns have managed to win games within their division, they have no wins or losses to any of the teams that are ahead of them in the playoff picture.

In Trouble

Both the Bengals (current 6th seed) and Ravens have too many losses to quality teams to be in consideration for anything more than a wild card if they fail to make headway in their own division. The Ravers are in even worse shape having lost twice to the Bengals.

Steelers?

The Steelers could be #3 right now if not for a very ugly loss to the Jets. They are wildly inconsistent but do not have any significant losses to teams ahead of them in the conference. Winning the North is paramount to making the playoffs.

Intriguing game of the week: Kansas City vs. Seattle

If the Chiefs were to pull off a home victory against a very vulnerable Seattle squad, they would have registered two wins over common opponents that the Broncos lost to (New England, Seattle). Why this is important is because a split later in the season against Denver would likely put the "common opponents" divisional tie breaker in play to decide the West. Could mean the difference between a 1/2 seed and the 5th seed.

Game of the week: New England @ Indianapolis

A win by the Colts would go a long way toward giving the Broncos their rightful place back atop the conference. The immediate outcome would put Denver back into the drivers seat for the #1 seed with Indy the #2 seed and New England at #3.  If all three teams were to finish the season tied, the head to head tiebreakers would go out the window because each team will have lost to someone in the group (Den lost to NE, NE lost to Indy, Indy lost to Den). In that case, the tiebreakers would go to the best conference record where Denver currently holds the edge.