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|
|1||New England Patriots||11-3|
|-||San Diego Chargers||9-6|
|-||Kansas City Chiefs||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).
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.
Chargers win wipes out two playoff scenarios for the #Bengals, who now have to win (or tie plus a Ravens loss) to clinch this weekend.— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 21, 2014
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?