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AFC playoff picture: Denver puts stranglehold on AFC West with win over Chiefs

The Broncos, winners of six straight, are still one game back of a first-round bye.

Jamie Squire

Sunday's Broncos victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, coupled with San Diego's overtime loss to Baltimore, have given Denver a commanding four game lead with five games to play in the AFC West Division race. The Broncos have now won six straight games, and the long losing streaks of San Diego, Oakland, and Kansas City have effectively ended the division race.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans hold the AFC's top record at 10-1, and have opened a three-game lead in the AFC South. New England's five game winning streak has given the 8-3 Patriots a three-game advantage in the AFC East. Baltimore, at 9-2 following Sunday's win, also has built a commanding three-game advantage in the AFC North. As it stands today, Houston and Baltimore would take the AFC's first-round byes, but with all four teams within two games of each other, any loss could change the race.

The AFC Wild Card race is much more interesting. Indianapolis, at 7-4, currently holds one spot. The second position would be decided between 6-5 Pittsburgh and 6-5 Cincinnati, with 5-6 Miami in the mix. San Diego, New York, Buffalo, and Tennessee, all 4-7, would need to win their final four games and get significant help from the teams ahead of them to make the playoffs.

The current playoff standings:

Rank Team W L T Div. Conf.
1 Houston 10 1 0 3-0-0 8-0-0
2 Baltimore 9 2 0 4-0-0 8-1-0
3 New England 8 3 0 4-0-0 7-1-0
4 Denver 8 3 0 4-0-0 6-2-0
5 Indianapolis 7 4 0 2-1-0 5-3-0
6 Pittsburgh 6 5 0 1-2-0 3-5-0
7 Cincinnati 6 5 0 1-3-0 4-5-0
8 Miami 5 6 0 1-2-0 3-5-0
9 San Diego 4 7 0 3-2-0 4-4-0
10 Tennessee 4 7 0 0-3-0 3-5-0
11 NY Jets 4 7 0 2-3-0 3-5-0
12 Buffalo 4 7 0 1-3-0 3-6-0
13 Cleveland 3 8 0 2-3-0 3-5-0
14 Oakland 3 8 0 1-2-0 3-5-0
15 Jacksonville 2 9 0 2-3-0 2-5-0
16 Kansas City 1 10 0 0-4-0 0-8-0