AFC Playoff Picture Coming Out of Week 17

It’s hard to remember the last time so many playoff scenarios were still up in the air as we come out of Week 17. While this weekend may have answered many questions, there are still things left undone that won’t be known until the NFL’s regular-season finale next week.

With the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the Denver Broncos, the Buffalo Bills can no longer clinch the AFC’s top seed with a win tonight against the Cincinnati Bengals. That said, a Buffalo loss could certainly put them on the outside looking in. Cincinnati must win tonight to stay alive for the top spot but also needs to win next week against the Baltimore Ravens and have Kansas City lose to the Las Vegas Raiders. 

FanDuel Sportsbook still has Buffalo with the inside track, sitting at +175 to win the conference, while KC is right behind at +200, while Cincinnati had longer +400 odds.

In Buffalo’s division, the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots are battling to come out of the AFC East. New England helped control their own destiny with a 23-21 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday. The Pats get the Bills next week and can punch their postseason ticket over their division rival, although they are +8.5-point road dogs. New England can also lose and get help from the Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The winner of Tennessee’s crucial battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars will decide the AFC South. It’s a classic win-and-you’re in situation in Florida next week where the Cats are -6.5-point home favorites. Even if Jacksonville can’t defend their home field, they still have a chance at the playoffs. While it’s a big if, if New England, Miami, and Pittsburgh all lose next week, the Jags clinch the seven seed.

On Sunday, Miami faces a must-win situation against division rival, the recently eliminated New York Jets. The Fins stand as early -2.5-point home favorites. 

Pittsburgh needs a Miami and New England loss while also taking care of their own business with a victory over division foe, the Cleveland Browns. Coming off a huge fourth-quarter comeback over the Ravens on Sunday night, Pittsburgh is a -3-point favorite hosting Cleveland next week.