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AFC Week Thirteen Playoff Picture: Colts vs. Chargers Projected in Wild Card Round

We take a weekly look at the AFC playoff picture.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The division leaders all remained the same this week in the AFC playoff race, and in fact seeds one through four didn't switch at all.  After that, however, everything is incredibly close.  There are twelve teams in the conference not eliminated from the playoffs, and six of them (half!) are 7-5.  It should make for a very exciting final few weeks of the season as teams compete for a playoff spot.

Right now, the Patriots and Broncos are both projected to get a bye.  Though the Patriots lost, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Broncos and thus remain the number one overall seed.  The Bengals stay at the third seed thanks to their lead in the AFC North and that tie (giving them less losses than the Colts, negating Indy's tiebreaker) and leaving the Colts still as the projected fourth seed.

A first round bye still isn't out of the question for the Colts, but this is where losing to both Denver and New England hurts them a lot - they'd need to finish with a better record than one of those teams and not just an identical one, because both of those teams hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Indy.  That means that the Colts will need to essentially make up two games on either the Patriots or the Broncos in the final four weeks of the season and finish with a better record than one of them to earn a bye.  So yes, it's still possible, but it seems like a long shot at this point.

Currently, the Bengals are projected to host the Dolphins in the wild card round while the Colts are projected to host the Chargers.  If you remember, the Chargers were the team to knock Indy out of the playoffs in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, so the matchup would likely provoke some bad memories from Colts fans and some nerves as well.  The Chargers sit at 8-4 and are starting to pick it up again after a bit of a mid-season slump.  Will this actually be the matchup that takes place in January?  It's really too early to tell, though that's the way things currently look.  As we already mentioned, however, there will be plenty of competition and change over these final four weeks as teams compete for a playoff spot, so the Colts' opponent remains to be seen.  If the playoffs started today, however, it'd be Chargers vs. Colts from Indianapolis on wild card weekend.

Complete AFC Playoff Picture - Week Thirteen:

First Round Bye:

1.  New England Patriots (9-3)

2.  Denver Broncos (9-3)

Other Division Leaders:

3.  Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1)

4.  Indianapolis Colts (8-4)

Wild Card:

5.  San Diego Chargers (8-4)

6.  Miami Dolphins (7-5)

In the Hunt:

7.  Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)

8.  Buffalo Bills (7-5)

9.  Baltimore Ravens (7-5)

10.  Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

11.  Cleveland Browns (7-5)

12.  Houston Texans (6-6)


New York Jets (2-9)

Tennessee Titans (2-9)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10)

Oakland Raiders (1-10)