clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

AFC Playoff Picture: Who to root for in Week 16

New, comments

The Steelers are aiming for a playoff-clinching win over the Chiefs. If they fail to get that, they're hoping for wins by the Broncos, Texans and Raiders.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers (9-6) capped off an improbable comeback from three touchdowns behind to top the San Francisco 49ers Saturday, keeping them very much alive for a playoff berth.

That throws a wrench in the AFC Playoff picture, but that's to be expected in a season that's been as fiercely competitive as any other in recent memory.

It's simple for the Steelers. A win over the Chiefs today at Heinz Field and they're in the postseason and still alive for a division title. A loss, combined with a Bengals win, eliminates the Steelers from the AFC North title race, but not from a wild card spot. They would need help after that, along with a win over the Bengals in Week 17.

If Baltimore wins against Houston, which it's expected to do, and the Bengals lose at home against Denver (3.5 point road favorites), a Steelers win over the Chiefs would mean either Baltimore or Pittsburgh has the opportunity to take the division title on the last week of the season. If all three lose, the Steelers would play Cincinnati for the AFC North championship, and Baltimore would be eliminated from that race, but still would be alive for a wild card.

Starting with that one, it's pretty obvious who Steelers fans should root for on the last Monday Night Football game of the 2014 season.

Chiefs (8-6) vs. Steelers (9-5)

Who to root for: Steelers

A win sends the Steelers into the postseason and gives them a one-game division championship scenario. A loss, coupled with a Bengals loss against Denver on Monday night and a Ravens loss against Houston, keeps them alive for the division title. A Steelers loss and a Bengals and Ravens win means the Steelers are eliminated from the division championship race.

Ravens (9-5) at Texans (7-7)

Who to root for: Texans

It's asking a lot for street free agent Case Keenum to come back to Houston and lead the defense-heavy Texans to a win over the Ravens, but weirder things have happened. Baltimore is favored by six points, likely because of the Texans' depressing quarterback situation. A loss, coupled with a Bengals win eliminates Baltimore from the AFC North division race.

Broncos (11-3) vs. Bengals (9-4-1)

Who to root for: Broncos

The Bengals have the opportunity to clinch their second straight AFC North title with a win over the Broncos and losses by Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Even with a loss, they'd still be in line for a playoff spot, facing Pittsburgh in Week 17 in what would essentially be a playoff game. They have easily the toughest opponent of three competing teams in the AFC North.

Bills (8-6) at Raiders (2-12)

Who to root for: Raiders

Buffalo is still in the hunt at 8-6, needing wins and help. A lot can change week to week, and Buffalo is coming off a huge win over the Packers in Week 15. Traveling cross-country isn't an easy feat, even if it's against the 2-12 Raiders. A win would clinch the team's first winning season since 2004.