Week 14 shook up the AFC wild card race as the Bills fell to Philadelphia, the Jets beat Tennessee and the Steelers upset Cincinnati. So who is still in the race?
5th seed: Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)
The Chiefs have a chance to challenge Denver for the AFC West. A playoff calibre defense makes the Chiefs dangerous in the postseason, while the offense is playing pretty well. Kansas City hold tiebreakers over all of their fellow wild card contenders except the Jets, who they haven’t played. As the fifth seed, the Chiefs will likely face the AFC South winner and have an easy road to the divisional round.
6th seed: New York Jets (8-5)
The offense has played much better over the last three weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown nine touchdowns without an interception and has one of the league’s top receiving duos in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The defense has also improved slightly after recovering from several injuries, but still faces questions about its effectiveness against playoff contenders. The Jets have lost tiebreakers to the Bills, Texans and Raiders and may be unable to keep Pittsburgh out of the sixth seed spot.
7th seed: Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
The Steelers have the league’s most explosive offense and can beat top seed contenders like Cincinnati. They still have a shot to win the AFC North if the Bengals continue to struggle. The defense is reasonably good and won’t cost Pittsburgh wins. The Steelers own a tiebreaker over the Raiders, but lost against Kansas City earlier in the season. If they can beat Denver this week and sweep the Ravens and Browns, Pittsburgh should beat the Jets to the sixth seed on record alone.
8th seed: Oakland Raiders (6-7)
A clutch win over Denver keeps Oakland in the wild card race. The offense can be one of the best in the AFC, while the defense can be one of the worst in the conference outside of Khalil Mack and Charles Woodson. But the Raiders must still face Green Bay and the Chiefs. Oakland holds a tiebreaker over the Jets, but have lost one to both Pittsburgh and Kansas City. It will be a long shot for the Raiders to make the playoffs.
9th seed: Buffalo Bills (6-7)
Inconsistency and injuries have left Buffalo’s playoff chances in jeopardy. The Bills often shoot themselves in the foot with penalties when they are the better team in many of their games. The offense has been strong lately, but the defense still has struggles. They hold tiebreakers over the Texans and Jets, but need to win on record alone to make the playoffs. Even if they sweep their remaining schedule, 9-7 may not be enough for the Bills to make the postseason.
10th seed: Houston Texans (6-7)
Houston’s best chance of making the playoffs will be as the AFC South champion. The defense plays well against most opponents, but not playoff offenses. The Texans are creative on offense, but are forced to switch quarterbacks every couple of weeks due to injuries. Houston hold a tiebreaker over the Jets, but have lost to both the Chiefs and Bills. The rest of their schedule sees them battle their AFC South rivals once again. As with the Bills, finishing 9-7 won’t be enough for the Texans to make the playoffs as a wild card. But it should win their poor division.