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Monday, July 22, 2024

AFC Playoff Race Analysis: Unraveling Tiebreakers & Strength of Schedule, Odds

As the AFC playoff race intensifies, teams find themselves in a neck-and-neck battle for coveted playoff spots. The landscape is as unpredictable as a plot twist in a blockbuster movie. In this analysis, we’ll delve into the intricacies of tiebreakers, recent results, remaining schedules, and strength of schedule for key contenders, offering a detailed view of the AFC playoff landscape.

AFC Standings Overview

Let’s begin by taking a snapshot of the current AFC standings, showcasing the teams vying for playoff berths:

  1. Ravens (10-3)
  2. Dolphins (9-3)
  3. Chiefs (8-5)
  4. Jaguars (8-5)
  5. Browns (8-5)
  6. Steelers (7-6)
  7. Colts (7-6)
  8. Texans (7-6)
  9. Broncos (7-6)
  10. Bengals (7-6)
  11. Bills (7-6)

AFC Tiebreakers Unveiled

Key Week 14 Results

Recent matchups have played a pivotal role in shaping the AFC playoff standings. The Cleveland Browns’ victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers have added layers of complexity to the playoff race.

Unraveling Tiebreakers

In a scenario where six teams share a 7-6 record, traditional head-to-head tiebreakers take a back seat. The focus shifts to conference records, with the Steelers and Colts boasting the top records at 5-4 against AFC opponents. This places them in the last two playoff spots, with the Steelers securing the No. 6 seed based on a 5-4 record against common opponents, compared to the Colts’ 5-5.

Common opponents become the next tiebreaker in line, but the impending clash between the Colts and Steelers in the upcoming weekend adds another layer of complexity. The winner of this crucial matchup will not only secure a better position in common opponents but also strengthen their conference record.

AFC Record of Each 7-6 Team

  • Steelers (5-4)
  • Colts (5-4)
  • Texans (4-4)
  • Broncos (4-5)
  • Bengals (3-6)
  • Bills (4-5)

Remaining Schedules and Critical Matchups

Key Matchups for Colts (7-6)

  • Week 15: vs. Steelers (7-6)
  • Week 16: at Falcons (6-7)
  • Week 17: vs. Raiders (5-8)
  • Week 18: vs. Texans (7-6)

Playoff Odds and Scenarios

The New York Times’ Upshot playoff predictor provides insights into the playoff odds for each wild card contender, with the Browns leading at 85%. The Colts, currently at 42%, have their fate in their hands. A pivotal victory over the Steelers would boost their playoff odds to 59%, while a loss could plummet them to 20%.

Colts’ Playoff Odds Scenarios

  • Beat Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Las Vegas & Houston (11-6): >99%
  • Beat Pittsburgh, lose to Atlanta, beat Las Vegas & Houston (10-7): 96%
  • Beat Pittsburgh & Atlanta, lose to Las Vegas, beat Houston (10-7): 88%
  • Lose to Pittsburgh, beat Atlanta, Las Vegas & Houston (10-7): 87%
  • Beat Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Las Vegas, lose to Houston (10-7): 71%

Strength of Schedule Breakdown

Remaining Strength of Schedule for Key AFC Contenders

Ravens: .654

  • Upcoming: at Jaguars, at 49ers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Steelers

Dolphins: .615

  • Upcoming: vs. Jets, vs. Cowboys, at Ravens, vs. Bills

Steelers: .577

  • Upcoming: at Colts, vs. Bengals, at Seahawks, at Ravens

Bengals: .577

  • Upcoming: vs. Vikings, at Steelers, at Chiefs, vs. Browns

Bills: .519

  • Upcoming: vs. Cowboys, at Chargers, vs. Patriots, at Dolphins

Texans: .481

  • Upcoming: at Titans, vs. Browns, vs. Titans, at Colts

Colts: .481

  • Upcoming: vs. Steelers, at Falcons, vs. Raiders, vs. Texans

Browns: .462

  • Upcoming: vs. Bears, at Texans, vs. Jets, at Bengals

Broncos: .423

  • Upcoming: at Lions, vs. Patriots, vs. Chargers, at Raiders

Jaguars: .423

  • Upcoming: vs. Ravens, at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Titans

Chiefs: .385

  • Upcoming: at Patriots, vs. Raiders, vs. Bengals, at Chargers

In-Depth Team Analysis


The Dolphins, despite a shocking loss to the Titans, remain in contention. However, their playoff bye is in jeopardy due to a challenging schedule against the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills.


The Ravens, with a two-game lead in the AFC North, face a formidable stretch against the 49ers, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Steelers. A potential decider awaits in Week 17 against the Dolphins.


Pittsburgh, initially expected to challenge the Ravens, faces a critical juncture. Consecutive losses to struggling teams have eroded their margin. The upcoming games against the Colts and Bengals are pivotal.


Cincinnati, resurgent with recent wins, confronts a crucial period with matchups against the Vikings and Steelers. The season finale against the Browns could define their playoff fate.

Browns and Broncos

The Browns and Broncos, seemingly well-positioned, have favorable schedules ahead. The Browns, with two home games against struggling teams, aim to secure a playoff spot. The Broncos, facing the Lions and Patriots, look to capitalize on their running game strength.


Despite a seemingly lighter schedule, the Jaguars face a tough road with matchups against the Ravens and Buccaneers. The outcome may influence their playoff chances.


Kansas City, facing the Patriots and Raiders, needs a strong finish. The Bengals’ game without Joe Burrow could be advantageous, but the season finale against the Chargers adds pressure.


The Bills, fresh from a crucial win, must navigate through challenging matchups against the Cowboys and Dolphins. A 3-1 finish is imperative for their playoff hopes.

Texans and Colts

The Texans, dealing with C.J. Stroud’s injury, face a tough end against the Titans and Colts. The Colts, with crucial matchups, strive to secure their playoff berth.

Predicted Standings

  1. Ravens
  2. Chiefs
  3. Dolphins
  4. Jaguars
  5. Browns
  6. Broncos
  7. Bengals
  8. Bills
  9. Steelers
  10. Colts
  11. Texans


The AFC playoff picture is a complex mosaic, with each team navigating a unique path to postseason glory. As the remaining games unfold, the true contenders will emerge, defining the destiny of the AFC playoff landscape.

Lillian Hocker
Lillian Hocker
Lillian Hocker is a seasoned technology journalist and analyst, specializing in the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital culture. With over a decade of experience, Lillian has contributed insightful articles to leading tech publications. Her work dives deep into emerging technologies, startup ecosystems, and the impact of digital transformation on industries worldwide. Prior to her career in journalism, she worked as a software engineer at a Silicon Valley startup, giving her firsthand experience of the tech industry's rapid evolution.

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