Week 11 of the NFL season saw the muddying of the waters in the middle of the AFC pack. The Steelers were able to extend their lead in both the division and the race to clinch a playoff spot. Cincinnati lost to Baltimore and Tennessee lost to Indianapolis which means that 5 teams currently sit tied at 5-5 for the last playoff spot. Denver enters the playoff picture this week thanks to their last-second victory over Los Angeles. The Steelers tie against the Browns is currently helping them keep their head above water for the second bye, but New England and Houston are only a half-game behind. Houston is now on a 7-game winning streak after an 0-3 start while the Patriots have one of the easiest remaining schedules aside from their game against Pittsburgh, which could very well decide which team gets a bye. No AFC teams play on Thanksgiving this year, but this week’s theme is all about Turkey Day.
Last Week: Lost to the Rams 54-51 in a Monday Night Shootout
This Week: Bye Week
Remaining Games: @ OAK, vs BAL, vs LAC, @ SEA, vs OAK
Many called Monday Night’s game the Game of the Year, and it certainly lived up to the hype with two dynamic offenses slugging it out and the defenses contributing 3 touchdowns to the total. The Rams emerged victorious and the Chiefs head into their bye week with just a one game lead over the Chargers in the AFC West and maintaining a game and a half lead on the Steelers for the top spot in the conference.
Last Week: Staged an epic comeback to defeat Jacksonville 20-16
This Week: at Denver (Sunday, 4:25pm)
Remaining Games: vs LAC, @ OAK, vs NE, @ NO, vs CIN
Wow. I can’t believe we won that game. The Steelers also got some help from Baltimore and Indianapolis and now sit 2.5 games up in both the division and the race to clinch a playoff spot.
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: at New York Jets (Sunday, 1pm)
Remaining Games: vs MIN, @ MIA, @ PIT, vs BUF, vs NYJ
The Patriots had an extra week off to stew on how Tennessee beat the snot out of them. Four of their final six games are against divisional opponents.
Last Week: Blew a 10-0 lead then came from behind to beat Washington 23-21
This Week: vs Tennessee (Monday Night)
Remaining Games: vs CLE, vs IND, @ NYJ, @ PHI, vs JAX
After an 0-3 start, the Texans have now won 7 in a row. They survived a comeback attempt by the Colt McCoy-led Redskins who took a 21-20 lead in the 4th quarter but a field goal carried the Texans through. With Tennessee losing to Indianapolis, the Texans now have a 2-game lead in the AFC South.
Last Week: Lost to Denver on a last-second field goal 23-22
This Week: vs Arizona (Sunday, 4pm)
Remaining Games: @ PIT, vs CIN, @ KC, vs BAL, @ DEN
The Chargers gave up a game-winning drive to the Broncos but still have a 2-game cushion in the Wild Card race. With the exception of this week’s game against Arizona, all of their remaining games are against teams in the playoff hunt.
Last Week: Ran all over Cincinnati 24-21
This Week: vs Oakland (Sunday, 1pm)
Remaining Games: @ ATL, @ KC, vs TB, @ LAC, vs CLE
With Joe Flacco out, Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards and Gus Edwards ran for 115 yards and a score to lead the Ratbirds past the Bengals. The win vaulted Baltimore into 6th place in the conference based on their 5-3 conference record, the best amongst the 5 teams at 5-5.
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: at Indianapolis (Sunday, 4:25)
Remaining Games: vs BUF, vs NE, @ MIN, vs JAX, @ BUF
Are the Dolphins for real? We will find out this week with a game against the surging Colts, which could prove to be an important result in the playoff race. Miami is currently in 7th based on a better conference record than Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Indianapolis.
Last Week: Lost to Baltimore 24-21
This Week: vs Cleveland (Sunday, 1pm)
Remaining Games: vs DEN, @ LAC, vs OAK, @ CLE, @ PIT
The Bengals atrocious run defense couldn’t stop the Ravens rushing attack and gave up 265 total yards on the ground. After a hot start, Cincinnati has now lost 2 in a row and 4 of their last 5.
Last Week: Dominated Tennessee 38-10
This Week: vs Miami (Sunday, 4:25pm)
Remaining Games: @ JAX, @ HOU, vs DAL, vs NYG, @ TEN
Last week Indy held on to beat Jacksonville to stay barely alive in the playoff race. This week they continued to roll with a crushing victory over Tennessee. The Colts have a favorable schedule down the stretch with only 1 game left against a team with a winning record and could be a factor in the playoff race.
Last Week: Lost to Indianapolis 38-10
This Week: at Houston (Monday Night)
Remaining Games: vs NYJ, vs JAX, @ NYG, vs WAS, vs IND
After a 34-10 shellacking of New England, Tennessee looked poised to make a run at the division title. But then the Titans went out and put forth a hapless effort against the Colts and are last amongst the 5-5 teams based on a 3-5 conference record.
Last Week: Came from behind to defeat Los Angeles 23-22
This Week: vs Pittsburgh (Sunday, 4:25pm)
Remaining Games: @ CIN, vs SF, vs CLE, @ OAK, vs LAC
Welcome to the Playoff Picture, Denver. The Broncos win over the Chargers puts them just 1 game out of the last playoff spot. Denver has one of the more favorable schedules down the stretch with games against the 49ers, Browns, and Raiders. They get the Steelers (who traditionally do not travel well outside the Eastern Time Zone) at home, and if they can steal a victory from the fading Bengals could put themselves in position to make the playoffs with a Week 17 showdown against the Chargers.
Everyone Else: Cleveland (3-6-1), Jacksonville (3-7), Buffalo (3-7), New York (3-7), Oakland (2-8)
Cleveland had a Browns-esque bye week as rumors circulated (and were dismissed) about their potential interest in Condeleeza Rice as a head coach. Jacksonville blew a 16-point lead to the Steelers to lose their 6th straight game. Buffalo and the Jets were on bye weeks while Oakland potentially blew their chance at the #1 pick by kicking a last-second field goal to beat Arizona.