The NFL's AFC playoff picture came into sharper focus after Sunday's games. In the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs dropped a game to the San Diego Chargers, 31-0. Despite the shutout loss, the Chiefs (8-5) hold a one-game lead over the San Diego Chargers (7-6) for the division lead. Had the Chiefs won on Sunday, the Chargers would have been eliminated from winning the AFC West. Now the Chiefs must hold off the Chargers.
The Oakland Raiders had a chance to defeat Jacksonville, but the Jaguars did just enough to hold them off, 38-31. Jason Campbell threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns and Darren McFadden had 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns, but it was Jacksonville's Rashad Jennings who stole the show. He rushed for 109 yards on only five carries, including a 74-yard touchdown run. Maurice Jones-Drew also rushed for over 100 yards. At 6-7, the Raiders would need a series of miracles to give them a shot at winning the AFC West.
The Denver Broncos, though eliminated from playoff contention, have games against the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers over the final three weeks of the season. They are playing for a top-five draft pick.
The New England Patriots sent the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears to their fourth loss this season after crushing them, 36-9. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns and receiver Deion Branch had 151 yards receiving. The Patriots defeated the New York Jets, 45-3, the previous week to leap them in the division. With an 11-2 record, the Patriots lead the AFC East, have clinched a playoff berth and stand as the No. 1 seed in the conference.
The Pittsburgh Steelers maintained their AFC North lead with a 23-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, who are now on a 10-game losing streak. The 8-4 Baltimore Ravens play the Houston Texans on Monday night to close out the week, but they will still retain a wild card spot no matter the outcome of the game.
The New York Jets (9-4), despite a 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins, hold a wild card berth for the moment.