A Guide to the AFC Playoff Picture: Week 18

Raiders Chargers Week 18
(Image credit: Christian Petersen and Icon Sportswire / Getty)

The first-ever week 18 has finally arrived. Even in the last week of the season, every team in the AFC still has something to play for. Five teams are still looking to grab a playoff spot, while the rest will battle for the best seed possible. It has been one of the craziest years the NFL has seen in a very long time, and here is what every team needs in the final week of the season.

Clinched Division

Tennessee Titans: 11-5

What They Need: WIN Vs Texans OR Chiefs Loss to clinch Number 1 Seed

The Titans officially clinched the South with a dominating win over the Dolphins. However, there is still a lot to play for in Houston. Tennessee currently holds the number one seed thanks to a tiebreaker over the Chiefs. Should the Titans take care of business or if the Chiefs lose to the Broncos. the Titans will secure a first round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs. Considering how well the Chiefs have been playing as of late, the Titans will most likely need the win to grab the top playoff spot.

Kansas City Chiefs: 11-5

What They Need: Win Vs Broncos AND Titans Loss to Clinch Number 1 Seed

The Chiefs suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Bengals on Sunday, knocking them off the top spot in the AFC for the time being. Now, they need help in Week 18. In order to regain the number 1 seed, Kansas City must beat Denver and have the Titans suffer a loss to Houston. Beating Denver is the top priority, as the Chiefs could fall as low as the number 4 seed with a loss should Buffalo and Cincinnati win as well.

Cincinnati Bengals: 10-6

What they Need: WIN Vs Browns AND Chiefs and Titans Loss to Clinch Number 1 Seed

The Bengals clinched the AFC North with a massive statement win over the Chiefs. Cincinnati now owns the head to head to head tiebreaker with the Chiefs and the conference record tiebreaker over the Titans. This means the Bengals are still alive for the 1 seed if everything goes right in week 18. Regardless of what happens, it has been a remarkable year for the Bengals, and they will celebrate with a home playoff game no matter what.

Battling for Division Title

Buffalo Bills: 10-6

What They Need: Win Vs Jets OR Patriots Loss

The AFC East is the only division title up for grabs in week 18. The Bills are in the driver seat but must secure one final win. Luckily for Buffalo, their final game is at home against the 4-12 New York Jets. The Bills can also clinch with a Patriots loss to the Dolphins, but winning at home is certainly the easier path.

New England Patriots: 10-6

What They Need: WIN Vs Dolphins AND Bills loss

The Patriots have guaranteed themselves a wild card spot heading into the final week. However, they are still alive in the division race. New England will need a Buffalo loss and a win of their own in Miami to win the AFC East. Remarkably, their is still a chance for the Patriots to grab the number 1 overall seed, but it would require all 4 teams in front of them to lose.

Win And In

Indianapolis Colts: 9-7

What They Need: WIN Vs Jaguars

There really isn’t much to say about the Colts. Indianapolis simply needs to beat the 2-14 Jaguars to get into the Playoffs. If they can not pull off the road win, it will spark chaos throughout the AFC. But the Colts are most likely going to win this do-or-die game.

Las Angeles Chargers: 9-7

What They Need: WIN Vs Raiders

Following a shocking loss to the Texans, the Chargers managed to bounce back with a win over the Broncos. Now everything is on the line in a divisional match-up against the Raiders. A win secures a wild card spot. A loss sends them home. The Chargers picked up a 28-14 win over the Raiders at home earlier in the year, but will now have to travel to Vegas to punch their ticket to the postseason.

Las Vegas Raiders: 9-7

What They Need: WIN Vs Chargers OR Colts and Steelers Loss

Despite an insanely drama filled season, the Raiders are still alive. Las Vegas has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in 2016 in front of their home fans on Sunday Night Football against a hated division rival. The story pretty much writes itself. The Raiders can still slip into the playoffs should the Colts and Steelers lose, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. The Raiders need the win to lock in a playoff spot.

Need Plenty of Help

Baltimore Ravens: 8-8

What They Need: WIN Vs Steelers AND Colts Loss AND Chargers Loss And Dolphins Loss

The Ravens playoff hopes are on life support. Lamar Jackson’s ankle injury has sent Baltimore plummeting down the AFC standings. Now the Ravens need multiple results to come to fruition to snag the final wild card spot. While they are capable of beating Pittsburgh, and it is certainly possible the Dolphins and Chargers will both lose, Baltimore also needs the Jaguars to beat the Colts. The chances of all these things happening in week 18 are low to say the least.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-7-1

What They Need: WIN Vs Ravens AND Colts Loss And Raiders/Chargers Do Not Tie

The Stealers inconsistency has left them in a difficult position. The Steelers not only have to beat the Ravens, but they also need 2-14 Jacksonville to upset the Colts. Even if all that happens, there is still a nightmare scenario where the Chargers and Raiders tie intentionally, which would give Vegas and Los Angeles the wild card spots and leave the Steelers out.

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