Week 12 started with the Chargers continuing their surge by beating the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. On Sunday, the Bills got themselves off of life support with a win over the rapidly-fading Chiefs. The Jaguars lost their hold on the AFC South by dropping a game in Arizona, and the Steelers barely got past the Brett Hundley-led Packers. In a development that surprised no one, the Browns were officially mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. On Monday, the Ravens defense controlled the game against Houston, keeping Baltimore in line for the last playoff spot. There are still 13 teams in the AFC Playoff Picture this week, but three teams are two games out of a playoff spot and could fall off the table this week. As we get closer to the holiday season, this week’s playoff picture features the theme of the best Christmas Movie ever made.
Last Week: Defeated Green Bay 31-28
This Week: at Cincinnati (Monday Night)
Remaining Opponents: @ CIN, vs BAL, vs NE, @ HOU, vs CLE
The Steelers squeaked by the Green Bay Packers thanks to a game-winning 53-yard field goal from Chris Boswell. The Steelers can clinch the division title by winning their next two games. They remain atop the AFC based on the Strength of Victory tiebreaker over the Patriots. While the secondary has looked suspect the past few weeks, the offense is emerging. Over the last two games the Steelers have scored a combined 71 points and are finally clicking on all cylinders. Ben is playing his best football of the season and Martavis Bryant caught a touchdown pass last week. Le’Veon Bell is leading the league in rushing and Antonio Brown is leading the league in receiving.
Last Week: Defeated Miami 35-17
This Week: at Buffalo
Remaining Opponents: @ BUF, @ MIA, @ PIT, vs BUF, vs NYJ
New England started their run of 5 divisional games in 6 weeks by throttling Matt Moore and the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots play their next three games on the road and can clinch the AFC East title with wins over the Bills and Dolphins the next two weeks.
Last Week: Defeated Indianapolis 20-16
This Week: vs Houston
Remaining Games: vs HOU, @ ARI, @ SF, vs LAR, vs JAX
The Titans narrowly topped Indianapolis and with the Jaguars loss to Arizona, resumed their place atop the AFC South. Tennessee and Jacksonville are tied at 7-4 but the Titans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The two teams will meet again in Week 17 in a game that will likely decide the Division Title.
Last Week: Lost to Buffalo 16-10
This Week: at New York Jets
Remaining Games: @ NYJ, vs OAK, vs LAC, vs MIA, @ DEN
The Chiefs are in an absolute free fall. They have lost 3 in a row and 5 of their last 6. After losing to the lowly Giants and the middling Bills, anything can happen the rest of the way, even with teams like the Jets and Dolphins on their schedule. Kansas City is clinging to a one-game lead in the division over Oakland and Los Angeles but has head-to-head games with both teams over the next three weeks, which could eventually decide the division title. The Chiefs need to right the ship fast if they’re going to hang on to a playoff berth.
Last Week: Lost to Arizona 27-24
This Week: vs Indianapolis
Remaining Opponents: vs IND, vs SEA, vs HOU, @ SF, @ TEN
Jacksonville’s lead atop the AFC South lasted all of one week. They went out to Arizona and lost to former QB Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguars remain tied with the Titans atop the AFC South, but the Titans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. Jacksonville has three divisional games remaining, including a Week 17 showdown with Tennessee that will likely decide the division title.
Last Week: Defeated Houston 23-16 on Monday Night
This Week: vs Detroit
Remaining Games: vs DET, @ PIT, @ CLE, vs IND, vs CIN
The Ravens beat the Texans on Monday Night and enter a difficult two-game stretch against the Lions and Steelers. Baltimore still controls their own destiny for the final playoff spot, especially with those two games against Cleveland and Indianapolis in late December. The Ravens offense is still bad, but their defense has been good enough to keep them competitive against bad teams. Baltimore holds the tiebreaker on Buffalo based on a slightly better conference record (5-3 to 4-3).
Last Week: Beat Kansas City 16-10
This Week: vs New England
Remaining Schedule: vs NE, vs IND, vs MIA, @ NE, @ MIA
The Bills may have saved their season with a win over Kansas City. With two of their final five games against the Patriots, Buffalo needs every win they can get at this point if they want to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Even after the disaster of starting Nathan Peterman last week, if Buffalo’s front office keeps their heads on straight, they’ll have a chance to make a run at a playoff berth.
Last Week: Defeated Cleveland 30-16
This Week: vs Pittsburgh (Monday Night)
Remaining Games: vs PIT, vs CHI @ MIN, vs DET, @ BAL
The Bengals got a win over the lowly Browns and now sit just one game out of the playoffs. They get 3 of their next 4 games at home and have a chance in Week 17 to equalize their head-to-head record against the Ravens. Somehow, after their horrendous start to the season, Cincinnati has found themselves back in the playoff picture.
Last Week: Defeated Dallas 28-6 on Thanksgiving
This Week: vs Cleveland
Remaining Games: vs CLE, vs WAS, @ KC, @ NYJ, vs OAK
Four of Los Angeles’ six losses have been by 3 points or fewer. They could be right in the playoff hunt if they had won 1 or 2 of those games. After losing their first 4 they have won 5 of their last 7 outings, including taking care of business against a beleaguered Dallas team this week. With the Chiefs in free fall, the Chargers and Raiders have the opportunity to challenge for the division title as they are just a game back and have head-to-head games against both teams remaining.
Last Week: Beat Denver 21-14
This Week: vs New York Giants
Remaining Games: vs NYG, @ KC, vs DAL, @ PHI, @ LAC
The Raiders won a literal slug-fest against the Broncos which was marred by ejections after a fistfight broke out on the field. Oakland is now back in the playoff hunt and sits just a game behind the Chiefs in the division and can potentially be tied with them by the time the two teams square off in Arrowhead next week. The Raiders are fortunate to get the Cowboys before Zeke Elliott returns from suspension, but still have a difficult December ahead of them.
Last Week: Lost to Carolina 35-27
This Week: vs Kansas City
Remaining Schedule: vs KC, @ DEN, @ NO, vs LAC, @ NE
The Jets blew a fourth-quarter lead against Carolina by giving up an interception return and a punt return for a touchdown. They are fading fast from the playoff race and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them lose out and re-insert themselves into the Darnold discussion.
Last Week: lost to New England 35-17
This Week: vs Denver
Remaining Games: vs DEN, vs NE, @BUF, @ KC, vs BUF
The Dolphins have lost 5 in a row. Their playoff chances are all but extinct at this point and they would need some upset victories and a massive amount of help to reach their second straight postseason.
Last Week: Lost to Baltimore 23-16
Next Week: at Tennessee
Remaining Games: @ TEN, vs SF, @ JAX, vs PIT, @ IND
Time is running out for the Texans. Their loss to Baltimore put them 2 games back and lost them a head-to-head tiebreaker. Tom Savage is not very good and the once-promising Texans season looks to be heading towards a Top 10 draft pick. At least the Astros won the World Series?
Indianapolis and Denver are 3-8. Cleveland is 0-11.
All three of these teams have one thing in common: no answer at quarterback. Jacoby Brissett has not been terrible for Indianapolis but their offensive line has been like a block of swiss cheese. Denver is still starting Brock Osweiler while Paxton Lynch was finally elevated to the #2 spot last week but only because Trevor Seimian was injured. Cleveland is, well, Cleveland. But go ahead and keep telling me about all those draft picks they have in the next two years.