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AFC playoff picture: Are the Patriots locked into No. 2 seed?

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are looking at a No. 2 seed. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Here’s a snapshot of where things stand in the AFC postseason race as of Monday night:

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are closing in on the No. 1 seed.Nick Wass/FR67404 AP via AP

1. Ravens (11-2)

Remaining schedule: vs. Jets (5-8), at Browns (6-7), vs. Steelers (8-5)

Games against teams over .500: 1

Opponents’ record: 19-20 (.487)

The skinny: The Ravens clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Bills on Sunday, and unless something truly crazy happens, Baltimore should clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC in the next couple of weeks. If the Ravens go into the regular-season finale with the top seed secured, it’ll be interesting -- if that contest means something to the Steelers -- to see if that has any sort of impact on whether or not Baltimore plays its starters.


2. Patriots (10-3)

Remaining schedule: at Bengals (1-12), vs. Bills (9-4), vs. Dolphins (3-10)

Games against teams over .500: 1

Opponents’ record: 13-26 (.333)

The skinny: There are no guarantees, but it seems safe (provided New England wins two of its last three) that the No. 2 seed is a reasonable goal for the Patriots. Over the last decade, New England has had the second seed four times. They’ve won one Super Bowl (last year) and lost three times in the AFC championship game.

Patrick Mahomes was called for a faccemask penalty as he staved off the rush of Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy (right) during Sunday’s game.Jim Davis/Globe staff/Globe Staff

3. Chiefs (9-4)

Remaining schedule: vs. Broncos (5-8), at Bears (7-6), vs. Chargers (5-8)

Games against teams over .500: 1

Opponents’ record: 17-22 (.436)

The skinny: The Chiefs clinched the AFC West with their win over the Patriots on Sunday. Thanks to the tiebreaker, if they win out and New England stumbles at some point, the possibility still exists Kansas City could claim the No. 2 seed. (For the record, the Patriots were staring the third seed in the face last year until some late-season help from the Eagles.)

Houston’s Deshaun Watson Texans points to a receiver during the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Broncos.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images/Getty Images

4. Texans (8-5)

Remaining schedule: at Titans (8-5), at Buccaneers (6-7), vs. Titans (8-5)

Games against teams over .500: 2


Opponents’ record: 22-17 (.564)

The skinny: What the heck was that? After looking impressive last week against the Patriots, Houston was smothered by Denver, leaving everyone to reassess the Texans. Everyone who was buying Houston stock the week after the win over New England is rushing to sell. The AFC South isn’t done by a long shot – the Texans are theoretically tied with the red-hot Titans, and the two teams still have two games against each other over the last three weeks.

Buffalo’s Devin Singletary looks for daylight in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Ravens.Adrian Kraus/AP/FR171451 AP via AP

5. Bills (9-4)

Remaining schedule: at Steelers (8-5), at Patriots (10-3), vs. Jets (5-8)

Games against teams over .500: 2

Opponents record: 23-16 (.590)

The skinny: We’ve been banging this drum for almost a month now – the Bills are locked in at No. 5 and that first wild-card spot. If everything breaks right for them and New England has an issue between now and the end of the year, the possibility still exists Buffalo can sneak past the Pats for the division title. But as inconsistent as the New England offense has looked at times this year, we’re not ready to go there quite yet.

6. Steelers (8-5)

Remaining schedule: vs. Bills (9-4), at Jets (5-8), at Ravens (11-2)

Games against teams over .500: 2

Opponents’ record: 25-14 (.641)

The skinny: After their 0-3 start, the Steelers – who are on their third quarterback – get points for perseverance. Impressive as to how Mike Tomlin has managed to keep the whole operation together. As mentioned: If the Ravens have everything clinched heading into the regular-season finale and Pittsburgh is still angling for a playoff spot, it will be interesting to see how things will play out in that one.



7. Titans (8-5): Should Ryan Tannehill get some MVP votes? Seriously, The Titans started 2-4 but have been one of the hottest teams in football since the ex-Dolphins QB took the reins. Two of Tennessee’s three remaining games are against the Texans, and the way Mike Vrabel’s group is playing, the safe money is on the Titans.

8. Browns (6-7): Too much too fast for Freddie Kitchens and the Browns, who are still in the mix for a playoff spot after Sunday’s win over Cincinnati. But they’re going to need some help down the stretch if they want to reach the postseason.

A late-season slide has left Jon Gruden and his Raiders on the outside looking in.Ben Margot/AP/Associated Press

9. Raiders (6-7): There was a moment before Thanksgiving when the Raiders were sitting at 6-4, and they had the Jets up next, and there was the very real possibility Jon Gruden’s team could be one of the NFL’s best stories of the year. But Oakland has lost three in a row by a combined score of 116-33, and that was that. There’s a chance they could still finish above .500, which would be a massive upgrade over last year’s 4-12 finish. But any playoff possibilities are out the door.

10. Colts (6-7): After they started 5-2, I was as high on the Colts as anyone. But five losses in six games have left them out of the mix at this point. If they finish .500, the franchise gets points for being competitive after it lost Andrew Luck on the eve of the regular season. But there are still some missing pieces there. GM Chris Ballard faces an important offseason.


Christopher Price can be reached at christopher.price@gloe.com. Follow Christopher Price@cpriceNFL.