Week 14 started with some crazy games in the AFC as the Bills topped the Colts in a blizzard and the Chiefs finally remembered how to win. In the span of 24 hours from Sunday night through Monday night, the race saw a dramatic change at the top. The Steelers came from 11 points down in the 4th quarter to nearly tie it, then from 9 points down to kick a field goal in the final minute and secure the AFC North title. On Monday night, the Patriots fell to the Dolphins, which gives the Steelers a scenario to clinch homefield advantage this week. It’s Steelers-Patriots week at the top, but the Chiefs-Chargers game is also a big one in sorting out the playoff picture. In keeping with the theme of “great Christmas movie GIFs,” there are some more this week.
Last Week: Defeated Baltimore to clinch the AFC North Title 39-38
This Week: vs New England
Remaining Opponents: vs NE, @ HOU, vs CLE
Clinching Scenarios: The Steelers have clinched the AFC North title. They can clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over New England AND a Jacksonville loss or tie. The Steelers can also clinch a first round bye with a win OR a tie and a Jacksonville loss.
The Steelers started hot against Baltimore and got off to a 14-0 lead, but that slipped away in the first half. A bad third quarter gave the Ravens an 11-point lead early in the fourth. The Steelers stormed back, nearly tying the game on a two-point conversion then seemed to give it back with an easy touchdown for Baltimore. Down by 9, Ben led another touchdown drive and the defense got a 3-and-out. From there, it was much the same as in weeks past. Ben hit AB for a big play and Boswell kicked his fourth game-winning field goal in the last five weeks. The Steelers have now won 8 in a row and have a chance to clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Patriots this week. This is the game that everyone circled on their calendars back in April. Steelers-Patriots. The game to decide where the next game will be played. To be honest, this game matters less than the next one, but playing at Heinz Field instead of Foxborough would be a huge plus.
Last Week: Lost to Miami 27-20
This Week: at Pittsburgh
Remaining Opponents: @ PIT, vs BUF, vs NYJ
Clinching Scenarios: New England clinches the AFC East title with a win or tie against Pittsburgh or a Buffalo loss or tie. The Patriots can clinch a playoff berth if the Ravens lose or tie.
Wait wait wait. I thought the Steelers were the only team that played down to inferior opponents on the road? Did the Patriots get caught looking ahead to next week? Did Tom Brady spend too much of his weekend binge-watching The Crown? We will never know. But what we do know is that Brady is 7-9 in his career in games played in Miami. The Fins pulled the upset on the Gronk-less Pats, who will likely come into Pittsburgh angry and focused next week.
Last Week: Defeated Seattle 30-24
This Week: vs Houston
Remaining Opponents: vs HOU, @ SF, @ TEN
Clinching Scenarios: The Jaguars clinch a playoff spot with a win over Houston OR if any of the following scenarios occur: Jaguars tie and Bills lose or tie, Jaguars tie and Ravens lose or tie, Bills and Ravens lose, Ravens lose and the Chiefs-Chargers game does not end in a tie.
Last week was the best-case scenario for the Jaguars. They beat a good Seattle team while Tennessee fell to a mediocre Arizona club. The Jaguars assumed first place in the AFC South with a one-game lead on the Titans. Additionally, the Jaguars have two games against teams destined to pick in the top 10 of the draft while Tennessee still has to play the Rams. The Jaguars have the opportunity to clinch the division title before they even face the Titans in Week 17 if they are able to win their next two games and the Titans drop one of their next two.
Last Week: Defeated Oakland 26-15
This Week: vs Los Angeles Chargers
Remaining Games: vs LAC, vs MIA, @ DEN
The Chiefs won a game! They snapped a 4-game losing streak and held on to the lead in the AFC West with a victory over the Raiders. Oakland had been closing fast in recent weeks, but the Chiefs were able to hold them off and draw even on the head-to-head tiebreaker. Kansas City now faces off with the Chargers, who are one of the hottest teams in the league, with first place in the AFC West on the line.
Last Week: Lost to Arizona 12-7
This Week: at Arizona
Remaining Games: @ SF, vs LAR, vs JAX
The Titans dropped a game to Arizona, which vaulted Jacksonville back to the top of the AFC South Standings. The Titans are hanging on to a one-game lead in the Wild Card race with three teams hot on their heels. The Titans have another trip to the West Coast this week with a game in San Francisco, who is suddenly playing much better with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. Tennessee holds the head-to-head tiebreaker on Jacksonville but will need to stay within a game of the Jaguars to set up a Week 17 showdown for the division title.
Last Week: Beat Indianapolis in overtime in a blizzard 13-7
This Week: vs Miami
Remaining Schedule: vs MIA, @ NE, @ MIA
In some of the best football weather you’ll ever see, the Bills and Colts battled in a snow storm. The game went to overtime after a Colts two-point conversion was called back on a penalty and they kicked an extra point. LeSean McCoy scored a game-winning touchdown after some questionable punt decisions in OT. Tyrod Taylor is hurt so it might be Joe Webb trying to lead the Bills to the playoffs for the first time this millennium. The Bills hold the “Strength of Victory” tiebreaker over the Ravens, which puts them in the #6 spot for now. They finish with two games against Miami in the last three weeks, which will determine their playoff fate.
Last Week: Lost to Pittsburgh 39-38
This Week: at Cleveland
Remaining Games: @ CLE, vs IND, vs CIN
The Ravens blew not one but TWO two-score leads in the fourth quarter. They fell behind Buffalo for the sixth and final playoff spot, but have a relatively easy next few weeks that should keep them in contention. Either way, it was good to beat the Ratbirds at Heniz Field and clinch the division title. Ravens Suck, tell your friends.
Last Week: Defeated Washington 30-13
This Week: at Kansas City
Remaining Games: @ KC, @ NYJ, vs OAK
The Chargers have won 4 in a row and are now above .500 for the first time since Week 1 of the 2015 season when they started 1-0. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders and the defense looks sharp. The Chargers have a massive game against the Chiefs this week that could ultimately decide who wins the AFC West title. Hard to imagine that a team that started 0-4 is now a win away from taking sole possession of first place in the West, but here we are.
Last Week: Lost to Kansas City 26-15
This Week: vs Dallas
Remaining Games: vs DAL, @ PHI, @ LAC
The Raiders had won 2 in a row to scratch their way back to .500. Unfortunately, the loss to the Chiefs could prove disastrous. Kansas City now holds the tiebreaker over Oakland and the Raiders will need a lot of help if they are going to make it back to the playoffs for the second straight year. They now face three teams that are also in the playoff hunt, and it’s a slippery slope from here.
Last Week: Upset New England 27-20 on Monday Night
This Week: at Buffalo
Remaining Games: @BUF, @ KC, vs BUF
The Dolphins looked to be down and out, but they pulled off the performance of the year last night and beat New England. The Fins nabbed two interceptions on Brady thanks to some excellent defensive play from Xavien Howard and got interior pressure all night. They held the Patriots without a third down conversion and completely blew up the AFC playoff picture. With two games against the sixth-place Bills in the next three weeks, the Dolphins are not out of it just yet.
Last Week: Lost to Denver 23-0
This Week: at New Orleans
Remaining Schedule: @ NO, vs LAC, @ NE
Are the Jets actually bad? We may never know. One week they go out and beat the Chiefs 38-31 and the next week they get shut out by the 3-9 Broncos. Josh McCown got injured (broken hand) and will be out for the season. The Jets have flip-flopped between “maybe being in the playoff picture” and “tanking for Darnold” this year. Given their remaining schedule, a 10-loss season looks likely for New York.
Last Week: Got blown out by the Bears 33-7
This Week: at Minnesota
Remaining Games: @ MIN, vs DET, @ BAL
The Bears are 3-0 against AFC North opponents and 1-9 against everyone else. After the Bengals blew a 17-point lead in their Super Bowl last week against the Steelers, they came out completely flat and lackadaisical against Chicago.
Houston and Denver are 4-9. Indianapolis is 3-10. Cleveland is 0-13.
Houston lost to the 2-win 49ers as Jimmy Garoppolo started looking like an NFL quarterback. The Broncos shut out the Jets while the Colts lost to the Bills in overtime in a show storm. The Browns blew a 14-point lead against the Packers and lost in overtime because, well, they’re the Browns. They also fired GM Sashi Brown this week as the cycle continues.