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AFC Playoff Picture: Colts projected to host Chiefs in Wild Card round

In our weekly look at the playoff picture, two AFC South teams would be in the playoffs and the Colts would host the Chiefs if the postseason started today.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Week twelve in the NFL is wrapping up, with only an underwhelming Monday night matchup left to go (the 3-7 Ravens vs. the 2-8 Browns).  Most of the week's action is over, and that means it's time to take a look at the weekly playoff picture.

A few weeks ago, many would have said that the AFC South didn't even deserve to have one team in the playoffs, but if the postseason started today, the division would not only have their division champion in but also a wild card.  The Colts hold the tiebreaker over the Texans to give them the edge at the number four seed to host a playoff game, but this week the Texans have taken over at the number six seed.  It would be the Colts hosting the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos hosting the Texans if the postseason started today.

The Colts hosting the Chiefs in the Wild Card round of the playoffs would obviously be a rematch of one of the most thrilling playoff games we've seen in recent years, as two years ago the Colts beat the Chiefs in come-from-behind fashion, overcoming a 28-point second half deficit to win 45-44 on an Andrew Luck 64-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton with 4:29 remaining in the game.  It was the first playoff win of the Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck era, and even though they fell behind big, it was an exciting game.  This year, the Chiefs were left for dead after a 1-5 start but have now won five in a row to take over possession of the number five seed - all despite losing Jamaal Charles for the season.  Alex Smith has played good football and the defense has stepped up, leading Kansas City on a remarkable turnaround that could very well see them get in the playoffs.

The last point to make as it pertains to the Colts in this week's playoff picture is not only that the AFC South has two teams currently projected to be in the playoffs but also that the Colts' game against the Steelers this Sunday could have significant playoff implications.  Of course, if the Colts win the division (and their game against the Texans in a few weeks could help decide it) they'll be in the playoffs, but let's just imagine for a moment that they don't win it (though I'm not expecting that to happen).  Then, it will come down to seeding for the wild card, and the Colts already have head-to-head losses to two of the teams in the hunt (the Bills and the Jets), and adding a loss to another (the Steelers) wouldn't be helping things.  It would, in essence, mean that the Colts would need to finish with at least one more win than the others instead of the same record and winning the tiebreaker.  Again, that's all a moot point if the Colts win the division, but if they don't, a win this Sunday could really be useful when it comes to the wild cards.

Here's the complete playoff standings at this point, recognizing that the Ravens and Browns have yet to play this week:

1.  New England Patriots (10-1)

2.  Cincinnati Bengals (9-2)

3.  Denver Broncos (9-2)

4.  Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

5.  Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)

6.  Houston Texans (6-5)


7.  New York Jets (6-5)

8.  Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

9.  Oakland Raiders (5-6)

10.  Buffalo Bills (5-6)

11.  Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)

12.  Miami Dolphins (4-7)

13.  Baltimore Ravens (3-7)

14.  San Diego Chargers (3-8)

15.  Cleveland Browns (2-8)

16.  Tennessee Titans (2-9)