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AFC Week Sixteen Playoff Picture: Colts vs. Steelers Currently Projected

We take a weekly look at the AFC playoff picture.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Only one week remains in the 2014 NFL regular season.  That means that we're just a week away from knowing the matchups for the first round of the playoffs, but there is still a lot to be figured out before then.

Three divisions and five playoff spots have been locked up, leaving room for just one other team to join the mix in week seventeen.  The AFC North "title game" will be on Sunday Night Football, as the winner of the game between the Bengals and Steelers will win the division while the loser travels to Indianapolis to face the Colts.  The Patriots have clinched the number one overall seed in the AFC playoffs, meaning that the road to the Super Bowl will, as expected, run through Foxborough.  Denver can secure a first round bye with a win next week over the Raiders.  If the Bengals win and the Broncos lose, however, Cincinnati would earn the bye while Denver would play on Wild Card weekend.

As for the wild card teams, one of them has already been decided, as the loser of the game between the Bengals and Steelers is guaranteed a wild card spot.  The other spot is up for grabs, however.  Currently, the San Diego Chargers are in line for the sixth seed after their big comeback win in overtime.  With a win on Sunday, they would clinch a spot in the playoffs.  If the Chargers lose but the Ravens win, then Baltimore would notch the playoff spot.  If the Chargers and Ravens both lose but the Texans win, then Houston would be going to the playoffs.  And if the Chargers, Ravens, and Texans all lose (or if that happens but with a Houston tie), then the Kansas City Chiefs (who play the Chargers this weekend) would earn the playoff spot.

Currently, the first round matchups are projected to be the Bengals hosting the Chargers and the Colts hosting the Steelers.  I think it's pretty clear that Colts fans don't want to face Pittsburgh if given the choice of the potential playoff opponents, so Colts Nation will likely be rooting for the Steelers on Sunday night, since a Steelers win would mean the Bengals would come to Indy in the first round.  So ultimately, though five of the six playoff teams in the AFC have been decided and while the playoff picture is starting to take shape, there's still a lot left to be determined in week seventeen.

Complete AFC Playoff Picture - Week Sixteen:

First Round Bye:

1.  New England Patriots (12-3)

2.  Denver Broncos (11-4)

Other Division Leaders:

3.  Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1)

4.  Indianapolis Colts (10-5)

Wild Card:

5.  Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)

6.  San Diego Chargers (9-6)

In the Hunt:

7.  Baltimore Ravens (9-6)

8.  Houston Texans (8-7)

9.  Kansas City Chiefs (8-7)


Miami Dolphins (8-7)

Buffalo Bills (8-7)

Cleveland Browns (7-8)

New York Jets (3-12)

Tennessee Titans (2-13)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12)

Oakland Raiders (3-12)