For the second week in a row, there is a new head honcho in the AFC. The New England Patriots are the conference’s new number one seed thanks to their 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills at a windy Orchard Park.
The Patriots started off the season 2-4 but seven consecutive wins have seen them climb all the way to the top of the AFC, up one spot from last week. A loss would have seen the Pats fall to the five seed, but instead, they are leading the conference after Week 13. New England has their bye next week, but even so, they are guaranteed to remain as the AFC’s one seed regardless of results elsewhere thanks to their 7-1 conference record.
Tennessee moved up to the number two seed despite being out of action on the weekend with their bye, thanks to Baltimore’s agonizing 19-20 loss to the Steelers. The Ravens held the one seed heading into Week 13 but now fall two spots to number three. After giving up a touchdown and their lead late, Baltimore scored a touchdown of their own with 12 seconds to go to close the gap back to one point. The Ravens elected to go for the win on a two-point conversion, only for Lamar Jackson’s pass to bounce off the fingertips of a wide-open Mark Andrews.
Let’s look at the AFC Playoff Picture now that Week 13 is in the books.
The Kansas City Chiefs hold their ground as the number four seed thanks to their 22-9 win over the Denver Broncos. Kansas City has now won five games in a row, and despite not moving up in the playoff standings they continue to close the gap to the teams above them. The Chiefs have the worst conference record of any of the top 10 teams in the AFC (3-4), but with the teams above them seeming to struggle they are well and truly still in the race for the number one seed.
The Los Angeles Chargers are the top wild-card team after Week 13 after their dominant win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chargers were up 24-0 in the first half but almost squandered their lead at one stage, before eventually cruising to a 41-22 victory. L.A.’s win sees them move above the Bengals in the playoff standings and into the fifth seed, while Cincinnati drops one spot to sixth.
Buffalo holds the AFC’s final playoff spot, dropping down one position from last week after their loss to New England. A win on Monday night would have been immense for the Bills, who would have regained the top spot in the AFC East and moved up to the two seed. But instead, Buffalo is left clinging to a playoff spot ahead of a huge road game this weekend against Tampa Bay.
Pittsburgh’s win over Baltimore keeps them at the front of the chasing pack in the playoff race, with the Steelers currently holding the eighth seed. The Indianapolis Colts moved ahead of the Broncos and Raiders after their 31-0 win over Houston, while Las Vegas dropped to tenth after a surprise 17-15 loss to Washington.
Miami is the last team in the hunt for the playoffs, a ridiculous concept after they started the season 1-7. It seemed like the Dolphins were all but out of the playoff, but five-straight wins have seen them move back into the race. They still face an uphill task to make the playoffs, but for now, at least, they are still in the mix.
The AFC Playoff Picture after Week 13: (*Division winner)
- New England Patriots (9-4)*
- Tennessee Titans (8-4)*
- Baltimore Ravens (8-4)*
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)*
- Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)
- Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)
- Buffalo Bills (7-5)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1)
- Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
- Las Vegas Raiders (6-6)
- Cleveland Browns (6-6)
- Denver Broncos (6-6)
- Miami Dolphins (6-7)