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AFC Wild Card Watch: Week 17

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

NFL: APR 27 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wild Card Teams

5. Cleveland Browns (10-5) - vs. Jets / @Bengals

The Joe Flacco led Browns just keep on surprising everyone, and they just keep on winning, proving to be one of the best storylines this season, and they go from perhaps the most unlikable quarterback in the entire NFL to a guy I find it hard not to root for. They are 5-2 in their past 7 games, and it is worth noting though that on four wins they won by an average of less than three points. The Jets turn into the prime Patriots when they are playing meaningless games, and the Browns travel to Cincinnati for the final game of the season, so I am still not sold on them making the playoffs.

6. Buffalo Bills (9-6) - vs. Patriots / @Dolphins

Led by MVP candidate quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills have managed to turn around their season with marquee wins against the Chiefs and the Cowboys, and are fresh off a win against the Los Angeles Chargers. They face the underwhelming Patriots next, before a Week 18 showdown against the Miami Dolphins.

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-7) - vs. Raiders / vs. Texans

Ugly loss against the Falcons, on a game where a win would have really helped the Colts playoff aspirations. This is another team that is definitely overachieving, but are just two games away from making it. Key matchup versus the Raiders at home next week, on what will be a true test of character for a roster that has a history of falling flat in such times.

On the bubble

Houston Texans (8-7) - vs. Titans / @Colts

The Texans were still missing rookie sensation C.J. Stroud, and lost convincingly to the Cleveland Browns at home. Backup Davis Mills struggled against Cleveland’s offense, while Amari Cooper torched Houston’s secondary. They now go against Will Levis and the Titans, before an early playoff game against the Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-7) - @Chiefs / vs. Browns

The Bengals got destroyed by the Steelers, in what is becoming a very inconsistent race for that final wild card spot. Jake Browning came crushing down to earth and Mason Rudolph, with George Pickens, torched them. With two very difficult matchups against the Chiefs first and then the Browns, this loss could prove to be disastrous for the Bengals.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) - @Seahawks / @Ravens

Just when you think they are out, the Steelers found a way to claw back into the race. Starting quarterback Kenny Pickett should be back by next week, but with remaining games against the Seahawks and Ravens away from home, their playoff chances are not looking great right now.