A Very Good AFC Team Is Guaranteed to Miss the NFL Playoffs

But at this point, we don't know which very good team it will be

One of the Best Teams in the AFC Is Guaranteed to Miss the NFL Playoffs
Baker Mayfield reacts after fumbling late in the fourth quarter against the Jets.
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Five of the AFC’s best teams will enter Week 17 with a shot at the NFL postseason, but just four of them will leave with a playoff spot.

Those teams — the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts — all have identical records at 10-5 but are at different places in the AFC standings due to a variety of tiebreakers.

Currently in first place in the AFC South, the Titans will clinch a playoff spot if they beat the Texans or the Ravens, Colts or Dolphins lose in Week 17. Now occupying the fourth seed in the AFC, the Titans could move up to No. 3 if they win and the Bills (11-3) lose their final two games, since Tennesee holds the tiebreaker after beating Buffalo earlier in the season.

Though they can no longer win the AFC East, the fifth-seeded Dolphins will head to the postseason if they can beat the Bills in Week 17 or the Ravens, Browns or Colts lose next week.

Winners of four in a row, the Ravens clinch a postseason spot if they win in Cincinnati in Week 17 or the Browns or Colts lose. Their divisional foes, the Browns, lost to the Jets on Sunday and now must beat the Steelers in Week 17 in order to clinch a playoff spot, as they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Colts. The Browns also get in if the Colts lose or — prepare for an ice cream headache — the Titans lose to the Texans and the Ravens, Colts and Dolphins all win their Week 17 matchups.

By virtue of their loss to the Steelers on Sunday, the Colts are currently outside of the playoff picture looking in. To get back in it, the Colts need to beat Jacksonville in Week 17 and also need one of the four other teams to lose. Should the Colts win and Titans lose, Indianapolis will go from out of the playoffs to winning the AFC South.

Equally as confusing in the NFL’s other conference is the NFC East. Despite losing on Sunday to the punchless Panthers, Washington (6-9) leads the division and is currently in the playoffs by virtue of sweeping the Cowboys (6-9) in the two-game season series. But if Washington loses to the Eagles on Sunday Night Football in Week 17, whichever team wins the game between Dallas and the Giants (5-10) earlier in the day will head to playoffs.

No matter what happens, an NFC team with a losing record will host a playoff game on the second weekend of January while an AFC team with a record of 10-6 or possibly even 11-5 will be sitting at home.

Makes sense.

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