AFC playoff scenarios: Can Baltimore continue to roll?

December 20, 2013

The Super Bowl champions have gotten hot at the right time of the year. (Rick Osentoski / AP)

Here’s a look at the AFC playoff picture heading into the next-to-last week of the regular season (via the NFL):

1. Denver Broncos (11-3): AFC West leader *

2. New England Patriots (10-4): AFC East leader

3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5): AFC North leader

4. Indianapolis Colts (9-5): AFC South winner *

5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3): wild card *

6. Baltimore Ravens (8-6): wild card

Teams in the mix: Miami Dolphins (8-6), San Diego Chargers (7-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8)

(* clinched playoff berth)

Denver has the division title and a first-round bye riding on the weekend if it can win and Kansas City loses. If New England also loses, the Broncos would clinch home-field advantage.

New England can clinch the AFC East with a win or tie, or a Miami loss or tie. (A Cincinnati loss would also clinch a playoff spot for the Patriots). The Patriots clinch a first-round bye with a win, Cincinnati loss or tie and an Indianapolis loss or tie; or a tie and losses by Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Cincinnati would clinch the AFC North with a win plus a Baltimore loss or tie, or a tie and Baltimore loss. The Bengals can secure a playoff spot with a win and a Miami loss or tie, or a tie and a Miami loss.

Baltimore can clinch a playoff spot with a victory plus a Miami loss and a San Diego loss or tie.

Miami is in the playoffs with a victory plus losses by Baltimore and Cincinnati.

San Diego must win and hope the Raven and Dolphins lose.

Pittsburgh, at 6-8, must win and hope for apocalyptic result across the board to stay alive for Week 17.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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