Wild Card Teams
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
The Steelers lost to the Cardinals 24-10 and more importantly, starting quarterback Kenny Pickett underwent ankle surgery and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. This is perhaps the weakest 7-5 team in the NFL by far, and the have a tough remaining schedule, including a matchup against the Colts. They go up against the lowly Patriots next week so at least they have that going for them.
6. Indianapolis Colts (7-5)
The Colts won a key overtime game playing away from home against the Tennessee Titans, and their playoff hopes are more alive than ever. The team is heating up at the perfect moment and they get back two key defensive players next week in Grover Stewart (reinstated from a six-game suspension), and Julius Brents (hopefully manages to return from injury). They face the Bengals next week, coming off a solid performance from backup quarterback Jake Browning in what should be an entertaining game.
7. Cleveland Browns (7-5)
The Browns are without Deshaun Watson, and currently playing Joe Flacco at quarterback (insert “What year is it?” meme here). It went as good as one would expect, as they lost against the Los Angeles Rams 19-36. They play the Jaguars this week in a duel of backup quarterbacks as Trevor Lawrence is out with a high-ankle sprain.
On the bubble
8. Houston Texans (7-5)
The Texans won an important game against the Denver Broncos led by a valiant C.J. Stroud, but lost rookie sensation Tank Dell to a broken fibula. Houston is also trending up at the perfect time, and they have a relatively easy schedule to finish the season, starting with the Jets this weekend.
9. Denver Broncos (6-6)
The Broncos winning streak came to an end in a disappointing loss to the Houston Texans, but their comeback from being one of the worst teams in the entire NFL is certainly impressive. They play the Chargers next week in what is a win-or-die game for both teams.
10. Buffalo Bills (6-6)
What a disappointing season this has been for Buffalo, going from Super Bowl candidates to looking at the playoffs from the outside. They had their bye last week, a perfect opportunity to regroup and prepare for their toughest test this season: the Kansas City Chiefs. With the way the AFC Wild card race is looking, and considering their brutal remaining schedule, the Bills just cannot afford another loss.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-6)
The Bengals managed to beat the Jaguars on a hard-fought game, and kept their playoff aspirations alive despite playing without Joe Burrow. Like the Bills, they have a brutal remaining schedule, and I don’t think they will manage to make it to the playoffs, but they still have a chance going up against the Colts this week.
12. Los Angeles Chargers (5-7)
It is basically over for the Chargers, who, barring a miraculous late season surge against a tough schedule will miss the playoffs. Another wasted year of quarterback Justin Herbert, and the team really has to do some soul searching this offseason. They go up against the Broncos this week and a loss would basically end their season.