The Baltimore Ravens (10-2) currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC. With four weeks left, here is how the AFC playoff picture is taking shape.
1st: Baltimore Ravens (10-2)
Justin Tucker’s 49-yard kick in the rain as time expired gave them another convincing win over a contending 49ers team. The Ravens are currently leading the Patriots in the AFC race after the Patriots’ lost to the Texans on Sunday night.
Baltimore has handled their brutal schedule with ease, but it is not getting any easier this week. They will travel north to face the 9-3 Buffalo Bills.
2nd: New England Patriots (10-2)
How many 10 win teams have faced this much criticism? While the defense has been dominant this season, they have been ripped apart against playoff teams such as the Ravens and Texans. To make matters worse, Tom Brady and the offense can’t find any rhythm.
Teams are realizing that this defense can not carry this team on its own. With another tough matchup against Kansas City Chiefs, Bill Belichick needs his team to put together a complete game against another playoff team.
Even if the Patriots stumble into the playoffs, they will likely hold on to a first-round bye, and no team wants to go to Foxborough for a playoff game.
3rd: Houston Texans (8-4)
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) December 2, 2019
The Texans held off a late rally from the Patriots on Sunday night to take a one game lead on the AFC south. Holding onto the division title this late in the season will be tough. Two of their four games are against division rival’s Tennessee Titans.
Division title or wildcard spot, the Texans deserve a spot in the Playoffs. Head coach Bill O’Brian has his team playing solid defense, while Deshaun Watson leads this high-powered offense.
4th: Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
The Chiefs are not the same offense that they were last year. Patrick Mahomes is not going to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. However, they are still a dangerous team capable of scoring on anyone.
Mahomes has had a quietly great season after bursting onto the scene last season. His 20 touchdowns and only two interceptions are a big reason why the Chiefs will be playing in January. The Chiefs don’t turn the ball over and they have an opportunistic defense.
Andy Reid will want to see a MVP-type performance from Mahomes this week as his team travels to New England to face the Patriots.
5th: Buffalo Bills (9-3)
People often use the Patriots division as an excuse for their success, yet the Bills have a solid hold on a playoff spot with four weeks to go. Outstanding defense and a solid run game is the best recipe for success this time of year. That is what Sean McDermott has in his team.
The Bills’ second-year quarterback, Josh Allen, has taken a step forward and that was highlighted on Thanksgiving. Allen showed off his strength against the Dallas Cowboys and put the league on notice that this team should not be taken lightly in January.
6th: Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
Mike Tomlin deserves to be in the Coach of the Year conversation. He has dealt with multiple quarterbacks and injuries among his skill positions. This team’s offense is not nearly as talented as it was last year, yet they are an good position to make the playoffs, which they missed last year.
An elite defense led by T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick has kept this team alive and relevant. The path to the playoffs won’t be easy. Matchups against the Bills and Ravens still stand in their way.
In the Hunt
Tennessee Titans (7-5)
The Titans path to the playoffs won’t be easy. Two games against the Texans and a matchup with the Saints still remains.
Oakland Raiders (6-6)
A disappointing outing against the Chiefs in week 13 hurt their playoff chances. Their final four games are not too daunting, with the Titans being the most difficult team.
Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
It will be tough to catch the Titans, especially with the Saints still on their schedule.