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AFC Wild Card Watch: Week 15

AFC teams enter the final stretch of the season fighting tooth and nails for the precious wild card spots.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Wild Card Teams

5. Cleveland Browns (8-5)

The Joe Flacco led Cleveland Browns are leading the AFC wild card race through thirteen games. That’s it, that is by far the weirdest line I have written this season, and it is not even close. Anyways, the Browns beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-27 led by a three-touchdown performance from Flacco who might very well do enough to reach the playoffs. They have a stingy defense, a good running game, some decent weapons in the passing game, and now a veteran hand at the wheel.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6)

The Steelers surprisingly lost against the New England Patriots at home, and their playoff chances are looking slimmer each week that passes. This is a team that is slowly but surely unraveling, as everything that could go wrong for them the last couple of weeks has gone terribly wrong. They go up against the Colts at Lucas Oil this Saturday without their starting quarterback, with pass-rushers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith questionable, and on the midst of a two-game losing streak.

7. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

The Colts failed to show up against the Bengals on a game where a win would have meant a much more secure playoff position, the offense could not move the ball, the defense allowed a career day from backup Jake Browning, and the special teams’ unit made more mistakes this game than the rest of the season combined. Still, they are still technically in the playoffs right now, and with a fairly easy remaining schedule, starting with the Steelers on Saturday, to finish the year they could still make it.

On the bubble

8. Houston Texans (7-6)

The Texans lost a game they absolutely had to win against the New York Jets, and to make matters even worse it looks like they will be without rookie sensation C.J. Stroud against the hot Titans. It’s do or die for the Texans as a loss here would basically erase them from playoff contention, something that looked like a certain thing just a week ago.

9. Denver Broncos (7-6)

The Broncos returned to their winning ways against the Los Angeles Chargers, defeating them 24-7 led by another solid all-around performance by Russell Wilson, another touchdown by wide receiver Courtland Sutton, and an amazing performance by the defensive unit. They have a tough game coming up against the Detroit Lions, and a win here would drastically increase their chances of making it to the playoffs.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

What a win for the Bengals, who convincingly blew out the Colts at home, led by a gutsy performance by Jake Browning and a dominant game by edge rusher Trey Hendrickson who abused Colts’ left tackle Bernhard Raimann all game long. The win puts Cincy right back on the race, and they play the Vikings this week so a three-game winning streak definitely seems like a real possiblity.

11. Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Against all odds, the Bills managed to beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium and remained with life in their post-season hunt. They play the red-hot Cowboys this weekend, and with a pending matchup against the Miami Dolphins in the horizon the Bills have the toughest remaining schedule of all Wild Card hopeful teams.