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NFL Playoff Picture: Chargers keep playoff hopes alive; Bengals in must-win mode

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The AFC Playoff picture gets more and more clear with each passing game. With only 29 games remaining in the year, Sunday will tell us a lot.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As it stands right now, following the San Diego Chargers' 21-point comeback against the San Francisco 49ers Saturday night, the AFC Playoff picture looks like this:

AFC Playoff Picture
Seed Team Record
1 NE New England Patriots 11-3
2 DEN Denver Broncos 11-3
3 IND Indianapolis Colts 10-4
4 CIN Cincinnati Bengals 9-4-1
5 PIT Pittsburgh Steelers 9-5
6 BAL Baltimore Ravens 9-5
- SD San Diego Chargers 9-6
- KAN Kansas City Chiefs 8-6
- BUF Buffalo Bills 8-6

Here are relevant playoff scenarios to our Denver Broncos, who face the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders to close out the year. (We'll also keep tabs on the AFC West, just because).

Denver Broncos

The Broncos clinch a first-round playoff bye with a win against the Bengals (a tie with the Bengals, along with a loss or tie by the Indianapolis Colts, would also do the trick). They can clinch the AFC's first seed with two wins and a New England Patriots loss. The Patriots play at the New York Jets and vs. the Bills to close out the season.

Cincinnati Bengals

That "clinch" Josh mentions above is for a playoff spot, not for the AFC North - to clinch that, the Bengals would need to win, see the Steelers lose to the Chiefs, along with a Ravens loss or tie. They have a lot of tough football left, but expect them to give the Broncos their best shot Monday night.

San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs

Neither team has an excellent chance at the playoffs, but the Chargers certainly helped themselves with a win this week. They need help in the form of the Ravens and Steelers dropping a game or two. Plus, the Chiefs and Chargers play each other in Week 17 - it's very unlikely we'll see a repeat of 2013, where three AFC West teams made the playoffs.

Who do you think gets the AFC's coveted fifth seed?