When week 17 of the 2023-24 NFL season ended, the Baltimore Ravens became the AFC North Champions & earned home field advantage in the AFC playoffs. The (defending Super Bowl Champion) Kansas City Chiefs became AFC West Champions. The Cleveland Browns joined the Ravens, Chiefs, & Miami Dolphins in the AFC playoffs. Unfortunately for the Cincinnati Bengals, Las Vegas Raiders, & Denver Broncos, they were all eliminated from playoff contention.
As we head into the final week of the NFL’s regular season, we’re going to break down the final possibilities of who can be in or out of this season’s AFC playoffs. In another article, we’ll look at every seed that teams who will be in the playoffs can earn. Let’s take a look at week 18’s AFC playoff picture.
This week, we’ll take a look at the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, & Pittsburgh Steelers competing for the final 3 spots in the AFC playoffs. We’ll also take a look at how the Jaguars, Colts, or Texans can win the AFC South and Sunday’s Bills @ Dolphins game will determine the AFC East.
The Steelers will start to clear the picture on Saturday, when they go on the road to play the Ravens. They could learn their fate, as early as Saturday night (after the Texans @ Colts game) or as late as Sunday night (after the Bills-Dolphins game).
The Steelers will make the playoffs, if…
-they win and…the Bills lose; the Texans-Colts game ends in a tie; the Jaguars lose or tie.
-they tie, the Jaguars lose, and…the Colts or Texans lose.
-the Broncos win on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Jaguars lose, and…the Texans or Colts lose.
The Steelers will be eliminated from playoff contention, if…
-they lose or tie and…the Jaguars win or tie; the Texans-Colts tie.
-they lose and the Broncos lose or tie.
-the Bills win or tie, the Jaguars win, and…the Colts or Texans win.
Saturday night’s Texans @ Colts game is cut and dry. The loser is eliminated, while the winner goes to the playoffs and has to wait for Sunday afternoon (when the Jaguars are on the road against the Tennessee Titans) to see who will be AFC South Champions.
Besides defeating the Texans, the Colts can also make the playoffs, if they tie & the Steelers lose or tie. They will win the AFC South, if they win & the Jaguars lose or tie, or if they tie & the Jaguars lose. Besides losing to the Texans, the Colts can be eliminated, if they tie, the Jaguars win or tie, & the Steelers win.
Besides defeating the Colts, the Texans will make the playoffs, if they tie, the Steelers lose or tie, & the Jaguars lose. The only way the Texans will win the AFC South is if they win & the Jaguars lose or tie. Besides losing to the Colts, the Texans can be eliminated, if they tie and…the Steelers win; the Jaguars win or tie.
The Jaguars are in the driver’s seat. A win will give them a playoff berth, as well as make them the AFC South Champions. They can also make the playoffs, if…they tie & the Steelers lose or tie; the Broncos lose or tie, the Steelers lose, and…the Texans or Colts lose. They can also win the AFC South, if they tie & the Texans-Colts tie.
However, the Jaguars will be eliminated, if…
-they lose and…the Steelers win or tie; the Broncos win; the Texans-Colts tie.
-they tie, the Steelers win, and…the Colts or Texans win.
The final game of the season will be the Sunday night match with the Dolphins hosting the Bills. Whoever wins will be the AFC East Champions. If the game ends in a tie, then the Bills will earn a playoff spot, but the Dolphins will win the division. Prior to this game, the Bills may clinch a playoff spot, if…the Texans-Colts tie; the Steelers or Jaguars lose or tie.
However, while the Dolphins are guaranteed a playoff spot (regardless of the result), the same can’t be said for the Bills. They could be eliminated if they lose, the Steelers & the Jaguars win, and…the Texans or Colts win.