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AFC Playoff Picture: Conference is wide open with eight five-win teams

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Coming into this weekend, the AFC had multiple five-win teams. This week, that number increased as a few of them lost and a few of the four-win teams picked up victories. If it wasn’t clear before that the conference is wide open, it should be now.

The Tennessee Titans played Sunday night, defeating the NFC’s top team, the Los Angeles Rams. Coupled with an easy schedule, they are the clear front-runner at this point.

The Baltimore Ravens needed overtime to beat the Minnesota Vikings this weekend and a league-record field goal to beat the lowly Detroit Lions a month ago. Survive and advance.

The cluster of five-win teams starts with the Los Angeles Chargers (5-3), leaders of the AFC West. The Bills at 5-3 lead the AFC East by a half-game and are third in the conference. The Las Vegas Raiders also sit at 5-3, but a head-to-head loss to the Chargers has them at fifth in the AFC.

The New England Patriots have worked themselves into playoff position at 5-4 and the seven seed with a 4-1 Conference record. The other teams at 5-4 include the Cleveland Browns, who beat the now 5-4 Cincinnati Bengals this week, and the Denver Broncos, who shocked the Dallas Cowboys. The Kansas City Chiefs sit in eighth place in the conference, just a tiebreaker from playoff position despite a lackluster start to their season. The fun with the Broncos and Chiefs starts with Record vs Common Opponents tiebreakers.

On Thursday, the Indianapolis Colts moved to 4-5 after a win over the 2-6 New York Jets.

The rest of the field is toast. The New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Houston Texans are out of it even though two of them won this weekend.

Here are the complete AFC East and AFC Playoff Rankings. Note: Rankings are listed in playoff order, so division leaders are listed 1-4 followed by the Wild card teams.

AFC East

  1. Buffalo Bills (5-3)
  2. New England Patriots (5-4)
  3. New York Jets (2-6)
  4. Miami Dolphins (2-7)

AFC Playoffs

  1. Tennessee Titans (7-2, 5-1 AFC)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (6-2, 4-2 AFC)
  3. Los Angeles Chargers (5-3, win over LVR)
  4. Buffalo Bills (5-3)
  5. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3, SOV 16)++
  7. New England Patriots (5-4, 4-1 AFC)
  8. Kansas City Chiefs (5-4, 3-1 vs common DEN opponents, win over CLE)
  9. Cleveland Browns (5-4, win over CIN, loss to KC, win over DEN)
  10. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4, loss to CLE, 3-2 AFC)
  11. Denver Broncos (5-4, 2-2 vs common KC opponents, loss to CLE, 2-4 AFC)
  12. Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
  13. New York Jets (2-6, SOV 11 wins)
  14. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6, SOV 7 wins)
  15. Miami Dolphins (2-7)
  16. Houston Texans (1-8)

++ Steelers play on Monday night