AFC playoff picture: Who is poised to clinch a postseason berth this weekend?

Lamar Jackson looks downfield in the first half of Sunday’s win over San Francisco.
Lamar Jackson looks downfield in the first half of Sunday’s win over San Francisco.Gail Burton/FR4095 AP via AP

Several teams can land a playoff berth this weekend, including the Ravens, Patriots, and Bills.

1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2)

Remaining schedule: at Bills (9-3), vs. Jets (4-8), at Browns (5-7), vs. Steelers (7-5)

Games against teams over .500: 2

Opponents’ record: 25-23 (.521)

Path to the postseason:

Baltimore can clinch the AFC North with one of the two outcomes:

•A win over Buffalo and a Pittsburgh loss or tie against Arizona.

•A tie and a Pittsburgh loss against Arizona.

Baltimore can clinch a playoff berth with one of the four outcomes:

•A win over Buffalo.

•A tie and a Houston loss or tie against Denver.


•A tie and a Tennessee loss or tie against Oakland

•A Houston loss to Denver, plus an Indianapolis loss or tie against Tampa Bay, and a tie in the Oakland-Tennessee game.

2. New England Patriots (10-2)

Remaining schedule: vs. Chiefs (8-4), at Bengals (1-11), vs. Bills (9-3), vs. Dolphins (3-9)

Games against teams over .500: 2

Opponents’ record: 21-27 (.438)

The skinny: The Patriots likely have to win out and hope the Ravens stumble between now and the end of the year. It worked for them last year when an Eagles win over the Texans opened the door for the second seed. Can they land that same sort of magic this year? New England has to hope familiar foe like the Jets, Bills, or Steelers can deliver an upset of the Ravens to help them down the stretch.

Path to the postseason:

New England can clinch a playoff berth this weekend if one of the five happens:

•The Patriots beat Kansas City.

•The Patriots-Kansas City game ends in a tie and Pittsburgh loses to Arizona.

•The Patriots-Kansas City game ends in a tie and Houston either loses or ties its game against Denver.

•The Patriots-Kansas City game ends in a tie and Tennessee either loses or ties against Oakland.


•Houston loses to Denver, and the Indy-Tampa Bay and Oakland-Tennessee games end in a tie.

3. Houston Texans (8-4)

Remaining schedule: vs. Broncos (4-8), at Titans (7-5), at Buccaneers (5-7), vs. Titans (7-5)

Games against teams over .500: 2

Opponents’ record: 23-25 (.479)

The skinny: The Texans got arguably one of the bigger wins in franchise history Sunday by beating New England in a meaningful game for the first time ever. Can they build off that going forward? They have four very winnable games the rest of the way.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)

Remaining schedule: at Patriots (10-2), vs. Broncos (4-8), at Bears (6-6), vs. Chargers (4-8)

Games against teams over .500: 1

Opponents’ record: 24-24 (.500)

The skinny: After stumbling, the Chiefs have won three of four and are on a bit of a roll. Next week’s New England-Kansas City game will go a long way for both teams when it comes to determining the postseason picture.

Path to the postseason:

Kansas City can clinch the AFC West this week with the following scenario:

•A win over New England, coupled with an Oakland loss to Tennessee.

5. Buffalo Bills (9-3)

Remaining schedule: vs. Ravens (10-2), at Steelers (7-5), at Patriots (10-2), vs. Jets (4-8)

Games against teams over .500: 3

Opponents’ record: 31-17 (.646)

The skinny: Toughest schedule of anyone on this list. I still believe the Bills are ticketed for fifth place and one of the two wild-card slots. Buffalo could give New England a big boost if the Bills can find a way to knock off the Ravens next week. For the record, there’s still a scenario where Buffalo can win the AFC East – it would mean the Bills coming into Foxborough and winning in December, but it’s still a possibility.


Path to the postseason:

Buffalo can clinch a playoff spot this week under the following scenario:

•A win over Baltimore, combined with an Oakland loss or tie (against Tennessee), a Houston loss (to Denver), and an Indianapolis loss or tie (against Tampa Bay).

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

Remaining schedule: at Cardinals (3-8-1), vs. Bills (9-3), at Jets (4-8), at Ravens (10-2)

Games against teams over .500: 2

Opponents’ record: 26-21-1

The skinny: The Steelers are still lurking after Sunday’s win over Cleveland, but with the Titans nipping at their heels, they can’t afford to let down.


7. Tennessee Titans (7-5): The Titans have won five of six, and while they still face a bit of an uphill battle to reach the playoffs, Mike Vrabel has done well to turn things around after the 2-4 start.

8. Oakland Raiders (6-6): The Raiders got to 6-4, and then lost back-to-back games by a combined score of 74-12. Trending in the wrong direction.

9. Indianapolis Colts (6-6): Four losses in five games have left the Colts needing some help to get into the postseason.

10. Cleveland Browns (5-7): The Browns already didn’t have a lot of room for error heading into Sunday’s game against the Steelers … and now, there’s even less after their loss to Pittsburgh.


Follow Christopher Price @cpriceNFL.