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AFC Playoff Picture: Shake-up at the top, but Colts remain steady at the number four seed

Let's take a look at the weekly AFC playoff picture.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts lost on Sunday in embarrassing fashion to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football, but the good news for the Colts is that the Houston Texans also lost, so Indy remains in first place in the AFC South.

Because the Colts are still in first place, they are still in line for a home playoff game as the number four seed, which if the playoffs started today would be against the 7-5 Kansas City Chiefs.  This is the same projected matchup as last week and wouldn't be ideal for the Colts, as Kansas City is one of the hottest teams in football right now as they are riding a six-game winning streak that has brought them once again right in the mix in the playoff picture.

Of course, there's no real ideal matchup for the Colts in the wild card round, as the New York Jets currently occupy the six seed but beat the Colts 20-7 earlier this year in Indianapolis.  The Steelers, who are firmly in the hunt as the number seven seed currently, just defeated the Colts 45-10.  And the Buffalo Bills, who are the number eight seed, beat the Colts 27-14 in week one.  After Buffalo in the wild card race are the Houston Texans, whose playoff hopes took a big hit last Sunday in their loss to the Bills.  Not only did that keep them out of first place in the division, it also knocked them out of the current playoff picture (they were the number six seed last week) and caused them to lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to Buffalo, something that could potentially be crucial.  Of course, if they beat the Colts in Indianapolis in two weeks they might not need the wild card tiebreakers, but if they fail to beat the Colts, their loss to the Bills might look even worse.

The most notable part of the AFC playoff picture this week, however, is what happened at the top.  After the New England Patriots were upset at home by the Philadelphia Eagles for their second straight loss, they dropped from the top overall seed to the number three seed, which would mean no first round bye and no home field advantage.  The Bengals own the tiebreaker over the Broncos and the Patriots due to conference record, while the Broncos then own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots.  It just further goes to show how tight things are at the top of the conference - last year, the Patriots were the top overall seed with a 12-4 record; this year, an identical record might leave them playing on wild card weekend.

1.  Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)

2.  Denver Broncos (10-2)

3.  New England Patriots (10-2)

4.  Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

5.  Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)

6.  New York Jets (7-5)


7.  Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

8.  Buffalo Bills (6-6)

9.  Houston Texans (6-6)

10.  Oakland Raiders (5-7)

11.  Miami Dolphins (5-7)

12.  Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

13.  Baltimore Ravens (4-8)

14.  San Diego Chargers (3-9)

15.  Tennessee Titans (3-9)


16.  Cleveland Browns (2-10) (ELIMINATED)