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AFC playoff picture: Steelers, Patriots atop the conference


in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Patrick Smith

Some things never change.

The Steelers and Patriots are the two franchises that have played in the AFC Championship Game the most, and the Steelers and Patriots are the two teams atop the AFC this year.

Here’s how the AFC playoff picture looks, with each team now having played 10 games:

1. Steelers (8-2): Pittsburgh has the tiebreaker over New England based on a better conference record.

2. Patriots (8-2): New England’s December 17 game at Pittsburgh is shaping up to be the game of the year.

3. Jaguars (7-3): Is America ready for the Jaguars in the playoffs? Because they’re a near-lock to make it.

4. Chiefs (6-4): Kansas City has stumbled mightily after a hot start, but the Chiefs are still the overwhelming favorites in the AFC West.

5. Titans (6-4): The Week 17 date with the Jaguars could decide the AFC South. Could a Jaguars-Titans game really get flexed into prime time?

6. Ravens (5-5): Joe Flacco isn’t playing well, but Baltimore’s defense is, and that may be enough.

7. Bills (5-5): Sean McDermott made a huge mistake by benching Tyrod Taylor but the Bills aren’t out of it just yet.

8. Dolphins (4-6): It’s hard to believe an offense this bad is only a game out of the wild card, but here we are.

9. Jets (4-6): It’s hard to believe a team everyone accused of tanking is only a game out of the wild card, but here we are.

10. Bengals (4-6): Cincinnati’s offense is starting to pick up.

11. Texans (4-6): The Deshaun Watson injury probably cost the Texans a playoff spot.

12. Chargers (4-6): Los Angeles is coming on strong, but making up a two-game deficit in the division will be tough.

13. Raiders (4-6): Oakland a major disappointment.

14. Colts (3-7): If only Andrew Luck had been healthy.

15. Broncos (3-7): Denver may be the biggest disappointment in the league.

16. Browns (0-10): They actually haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet, but it’s probably safe to say the Browns won’t be in the playoffs this year.