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AFC playoff picture: Raiders lose QB Derek Carr for season, Patriots team to beat

The Patriots are the most complete team in the AFC.

The New England Patriots remain a game ahead of the Oakland Raiders in the AFC, but the gap between the two teams has expanded. Raiders QB Derek Carr unfortunately broke his leg (fibula) in week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts, likely sinking any chance the Raiders had of making a postseason push.

The Raiders weren’t alone, as the Tennessee Titans lost QB Marcus Mariota to an identical broken fibula. Add in Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill dealing with an ACL and MCL sprain, the Houston Texans benching $72 million dollar QB Brock Osweiler, and the Denver Broncos anemic offense with QB Trevor Siemian, and the quarterback situation in the AFC looks bleak.

The Patriots have QB Tom Brady. The Steelers have QB Ben Roethlisberger. Those are the two best quarterbacks in the AFC. The Chiefs have QB Alex Smith, who is worth noting, but represents a clear step down from Brady and Roethlisberger. The Raiders will rely on QB Matt McGloin, the Texans on QB Tom Savage, the Dolphins on QB Matt Moore, and the Titans on, surprise, QB Matt Cassel!

When you factor in the Patriots #1 ranked defense, the gap between the Patriots and the rest of the conference seems vast.

1. (13-2) New England Patriots - Can the Patriots beat the Dolphins in Miami?

2. (12-3) Oakland Raiders - Can the Raiders beat the Broncos in Denver?

3. (9-5) Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers have to beat the Ravens on Christmas day, but in week 17 can the Steelers beat the Browns in Pittsburhahahahahah

4. (8-6) Houston Texans - The Texans can clinch the division with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.

5. (10-4) Kansas City Chiefs - The Dolphins actually hold the tiebreaker against the Chiefs due to common games (the Dolphins beat the Steelers, the Chiefs did not). The Chiefs need to win on Christmas day to stay ahead of a surging Miami team.

6. (10-5) Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins can clinch a playoff win if the Chiefs beat the Broncos, but that would hurt their chances of claiming the 5th seed.

In the hunt: (8-6) Baltimore Ravens, (8-6) Denver Broncos, (8-7) Tennessee Titans