While the Denver Broncos are basically out of the NFL playoff picture with five games to go, the AFC is filled with intriguing story lines on the road to the postseason. If the season ended today, the New York Jets, the Baltimore Ravens, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars would win their respective divisions. The New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers currently hold the wild slots. The Jets and the Ravens would receive first-round byes, but then it would be possible that a 9-2 Patriots team would face the 6-5 Jaguars as the road team in the first round.
But the season doesn't end today, and this week's big match-up is an AFC East contest between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, both 9-2. As Joe Caporoso writes over at SB Nation NY, this is "As Good As It Gets." The Jets won their home game against the Patriots, 28-14, back in September and now the team can silence those skeptics who believe the Jets aren't legitimate contenders for the Super Bowl. The winner of this game will have all the momentum to take the AFC East title.
The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers square off in the Steel City and a win would put the Ravens a step closer to locking up the AFC North. The Ravens already defeated the Steelers earlier in the season, so a win would give them the tiebreaker should both teams finish with identical records. This will be a hard-hitting game, but how will the refs call it?
The 6-5 Jacksonville Jaguars currently own the tiebreaker over the Colts due to their week 4 victory at home over the Colts. The Jaguars face the Tennessee Titans on the road this week, a team they lost to at home, 30-3, earlier in the season. The Colts, meanwhile, are on a two-game losing streak (losers in three of their last four) and face the Dallas Cowboys, who lost to the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving Day. Peyton Manning will want to get the Colts back on track this weekend.
The Kansas City Chiefs host the Denver Broncos this week as the San Diego Chargers are making a late charge to the top of the standings. The Chiefs will want to make up for their 49-29 loss to the Broncos a couple of weeks ago, but a win may not be enough to cement control of the AFC West. The San Diego Chargers are on a four-game winning streak and will look to defeat the Raiders, who won their week 5 contest.
These late-season playoff races are just starting to heat up!