The AFC Playoff chase kicked into full chaos in Week 15. The Chiefs’ loss to the Chargers kept the status of the AFC West and the byes in doubt. Pretty much every team with a chance at a wildcard spot won over the weekend, as the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, and Baltimore Ravens came up with wins over NFC opponents. And then, the final piece to the puzzle happened in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers got a must-win, and in the process gave New England their fifth regular season loss, something that hasn’t happened in nearly a decade.
In fact, the New England Patriots have not had to play a road playoff game in the AFC before the Conference Championship since they went to San Diego in January of 2007, and they have not won a road playoff game since that one. That’s what they are facing after falling to 9-5 and trailing both the AFC West champ and Houston in the standings with two weeks to go.
Here is a breakdown of where everything stands in the AFC:
AFC WEST CHAMP
The Chiefs have the tiebreaker over the Chargers despite the Thursday loss, because of division record (or common games record, if that ends up even with a Kansas City loss to Oakland). The Chargers loss to Denver earlier this year is looming large at the moment. So if Kansas City wins out, they are the #1 seed. If both teams lose one more game, the Chiefs also win the division, but the status of the #1 seed depends on other factors.
AFC SOUTH CHAMP
The Houston Texans had a crucial comeback on Saturday to beat the Jets, but they still have not clinched a playoff spot or the AFC South at 10-4. That’s because they would lose a division tiebreaker to either the Colts or Titans (who play each other in Week 17) if there was a tie atop the division standings at 10-6. Houston can win the division by beating the Eagles next week, but if they lose, the division is still open entering Week 17 unless the Titans and Colts both lose also next week.