Making sense of the AFC wild-card picture

Earlier Sunday, we learned the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals clinched their respective divisions with wins in Week 17.

The four division winners in the AFC playoff picture are now set, as the Indianapolis Colts already had clinched homefield advantage throughout the conference playoffs and the Chargers had clinched the No. 2 seed.

Now it’s time to make sense of the AFC wild-card picture.

As the seedings currently stand, the Denver Broncos are the No. 5 seed and New York Jets the No. 6 seed, due to tie-breakers in strength of victory. Both teams are 8-7. 

And, technically, the Baltimore Ravens (8-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7), Houston Texans (8-7), Miami Dolphins (7-8) and Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) are still alive.

However, the tie-breaker scenario will change in Week 17, and the result will change the order of the seven teams still alive for the two playoff spots. When the Baltimore Ravens face the Oakland Raiders next Sunday, the common games tie-breaker will then come into play for the Broncos, Jets and Ravens.

If the Jets defeat the Bengals, they would hold a three-way tie-breaker over the Ravens and Broncos (if the teams remain tied). If the Ravens defeat the Raiders, they would then hold the tiebreaker over the Broncos because of the 30-7 win in Week 8.

It’s a lot to take in, but what it all means is that the Jets and Ravens control their playoff destiny. If those teams win next week, they’re in.

Here’s an updated look at the current playoff seedings and bracket.

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