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So far the most awaited question is which teams will make the playoffs and make the postseason…This season, there are a whopping seven still-believing teams that will take a 7-5 mark into Week 14, with six of them hailing from the jam-packed AFC, where 12 of the 16 teams are at .500 or better. Of those seven, most are in pretty rough shape, but they’re not dead yet, even though only Miami would qualify (as the AFC’s No. 6 seed) if the playoffs started today.
In Baltimore, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, there are three recent Super Bowl teams with first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to make a meaningful late-season run. And then there are four other clubs that haven’t tasted either the playoffs or a postseason victory in forever: Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami and Kansas City.
Miami — Current position: AFC’s 6th seed — The Dolphins’ gritty 16-13 comeback road win against the feeble Jets on Monday night was literally a season-saver. Miami would have been toast at 6-6, but the victory vaulted it all the way from the 11th seed in the AFC to the lucky No. 6 spot, where, thanks to the intricacies of the NFL’s three-way tiebreaker rules, they somehow replaced the Chiefs.
Kansas City — Current position: AFC’s 7th seed — the Chiefs’ fortunes shifted dramatically for the worse in the span of just a few hours in Week 13. At the start of the day, Kansas City was just a home win over struggling Denver away from being 8-4 and tied for first place in the AFC West. By the end of Sunday night, once the Chargers (8-4) had come back dramatically to win 34-33 at Baltimore and the Chiefs lost 29-16 to the Broncos (9-3), Kansas City was all but out of the division race, suddenly looking up at both San Diego and Denver. With tough games at Arizona (9-3) and at Pittsburgh (7-5) still remaining, plus a Week 17 home finale with San Diego, the Chiefs’ playoff chances look like they’re on life support.
Buffalo — Current position: AFC’s 8th seed — Just by having a winning record and being in playoff contention, the Bills are already in strange and almost virgin territory by recent Buffalo standards. The win over the Browns on Sunday helped, but for a Bills team that has been hanging around on the fringes of playoff contention all year — never having a losing month or dropping below .500 — it’ll be a long and painful December.
Baltimore — Current position: AFC’s 9th seed — How critical was Week 13 in the AFC North? First-place Cincinnati barely survived at Tampa Bay and stayed as the AFC’s No. 3 seed position, while the Ravens, Steelers and Browns all lost, sliding to a discouraging and desperate 9th, 10th and 11th in the conference.
At this point of the year in the NFL, your outlook can change dramatically in a week, and that means the Ravens have every reason to believe they might be riding high again if they can go to Miami this week and pull the upset against the 6th-seeded Dolphins.
Pittsburgh — Current position: AFC’s 10th seed — Having witnessed the Saints’ dismantling of the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday — and pay no mind to that wildly deceiving final score of 35-32 — it’s hard to imagine Mike Tomlin’s club finding a winning sense of consistency and cohesion this late in the season. source: www.si.com
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