We're coming up on the final week of the NFL regular season. Josh has already given you a bit of a rundown on the NFC playoff scenarios, so I thought I would attempt to shed some light on how the AFC might play out. (Keyword: Attempt)
First.. here are the current records and standings:
1. Colts 14-1
2. Chargers 12-3
3. Patriots 10-5
4. Bengals 10-5
5. Broncos 8-7
6. Jets 8-7
7. Ravens 8-7
8. Texans 8-7
9. Steelers 8-7
10. Dolphins 7-8
11. Jaguars 7-8
12. Titans 7-8 (OUT)
Clearly, the Colts and Chargers have 1 and 2 respectively all wrapped up. Patriots and Bengals share conference records and are both 2-2 in games against common opponents. Each of their last games is against another common opponent, so we must go to the Strength of Victory Tiebreaker. There, Opponents in Patriots wins currently have a very slight margin in that category. If the two teams end up tied, there placement could easily come down to how the rest of the league preforms. Frankly, it doesn't matter much. One of them will be #3 and one will be #4.
So, with the easy stuff out of the way, let's look at the Wild Card Picture.. yeesh.
Here is ESPN's listing of how different teams can make the playoffs...
I'm going to try to explain why this is all true. All of my explanations assume no ties.