There are currently eleven teams in the AFC that have a winning record and the Patriots are on top of all of them.
Twelve teams are still actively competing for six playoff spots (the 4-5 Texans are still in the hunt)- so where does everyone stand?
1. Patriots (7-2) - After beating Denver, the Patriots are in first place and have complete control of their destiny. If they win out, they get home field advantage throughout the playoffs- and that's a benefit the Patriots should really be hoping for. That said, they have the toughest remaining schedule of all teams still in contention. The next few weeks will show a lot about the Patriots chances.
2. Broncos (6-2) - While the Broncos may have lost the head-to-head against the Patriots, their remaining schedule is far easier. They've survived their most difficult stretch, but they do have plenty of divisional games left that will hopefully cause them trouble.
3. Bengals (5-2-1) - The Bengals have not looked the same since they played the Patriots. After looking like a top contender, they've gone 2-2-1, with one of their victories coming against the Jaguars. Still, they're a dangerous team that is returning a lot of starters from injuries. They can make a dangerous push as the division leader of the best division in football.
4. Colts (6-3) - Andrew Luck and company have the decisive 27-0 head-to-head victory against the Bengals and the offense is playing at Patriots/Broncos levels. That said, the defense is fairly suspect and the losses against the Steelers and Broncos (and not really the Eagles) will come back to haunt them come playoff seeding time.
5. Steelers (6-3) - The Bengals are barely ahead, but most realize that it's likely a matter of time until the Steelers get back on top- and they have a week 14 and 17 match-up with Cincinnati that will likely decide the division. The offense is insane and no one can stop Antonio Brown. One of the most dangerous teams in the league at this point, but they a couple tough games left on their slate.
6. Chiefs (5-3) - The Chiefs are the anti-Colts; their stifling defense is holding up the team while the offense sometimes puts up enough points to stay competitive. It seems like a lot of time has passed since their Week 4 game with the Patriots; this team will be competitive until the end.
7. Browns (5-3) - The Hoyers are on the prowl and they're dangerous. Former Patriot Brian Hoyer is quarterbacking one of the best stories of the season and with the Chiefs playing the Broncos, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Steelers, there's a fair chance the Browns can kick down the door.
8. Bills (5-3) - Is it weird that I'm kind of rooting for them? The switch from EJ Manuel to Kyle Orton seems like the right call for a team that needs to have immediate success. With upcoming games against the Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, and Browns, if the Bills can win all four they'll be in great position for a wild card spot. They have closing games against the Broncos, Packers, and Patriots so they'll need their wins now.
9. Dolphins (5-3) - How about Miami fielding one of the best defenses in the league? Definitely puts Week 1 in a different perspective. The Dolphins are in a good position with games against the Lions, Broncos, and Patriots as the toughest left on the slate. They have two against the Jets and one against the Vikings so they just need to steal one or two other games to make the playoffs.
10. Chargers (5-4) - Losers of three in a row and each one worse than the prior. This is a team on a downward trajectory with their final five games coming against teams in playoff contention. While the team is still able to compete when they have their healthy cornerbacks, they're fighting a majorly uphill battle.
11. Ravens (5-4) - How about being in last place at 5-4? They may have lost two straight divisional games, but there's a very possible chance that the Ravens win out. They're still dangerous and they're still a fairly complete team.
12. Texans (4-5) - Still in contention, they have three games against the AFC North and one against the Colts (ouch) and then two against the Jaguars and one against the Titans (not bad). If they can squeak out a pair of AFC North Victories, they might have a shot. But this Texans team will need a lot of help to make the playoffs.