With the Baltimore Ravens beating the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon, the New England Patriots had to win on the road against the Houston Texans in order to keep the number one seed in the AFC. However, they failed to do that: the Patriots lost 28-22, falling to 10-2 on the year and behind a Baltimore team that owns the head-to-head advantage thanks to winning the two team’s matchup in Week 9.
The race for the number one seed in the conference and home field advantage throughout the AFC’s portion of the postseason tournament still remains a two-team affair at this point in time, though, and any other mistake made by either one of the clubs could shift the power balance once more. With that being said, the conference’s playoff picture looks as follows entering Week 14 of the regular season:
AFC playoff picture
- Baltimore Ravens (10-2)
- New England Patriots (10-2)
- Houston Texans (8-4)
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
- Buffalo Bills (9-3)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
Despite their loss in Houston, the Patriots are still on their way to earn a first-round playoff bye. However, their room for error has shrunk significantly both when hit comes to the standings in the conference and even the division: the 9-3 Bills are still very much alive in the race for the AFC East title, even though New England has won the first meeting between the two clubs and will still host Buffalo at Gillette Stadium in Week 16.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the upcoming weeks:
AFC schedule: Week 14—Week 17
|Week 14||at Bills||vs Chiefs||vs Broncos||at Patriots||vs Ravens||at Cardinals|
|Week 15||vs Jets||at Bengals||at Titans||vs Broncos||at Steelers||vs Bills|
|Week 16||at Browns||vs Bills||at Buccaneers||at Bears||at Patriots||at Jets|
|Week 17||vs Steelers||vs Dolphins||vs Titans||vs Chargers||vs Jets||at Ravens|
Next Sunday features two games that could have a major impact on the AFC’s playoff picture: the Patriots will host the fourth-seeded Chiefs, while the Ravens will travel to Buffalo to take on the current number five seed. New England, of course, needs to win in order to stay in a good position within the conference, while the second game could potentially put the team atop the AFC once again.
The best case scenario for the Patriots would be a win over Kansas City in combination with a Baltimore loss — that way, the reigning world champions would have control back in their own hands again even with the Bills still breathing up their necks in the AFC East.
NFC playoff picture
- New Orleans Saints (10-2)
- Seattle Seahawks (10-2)
- Green Bay Packers (9-3)
- Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
- San Francisco 49ers (10-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
The 49ers’ loss to the Ravens on Sunday opened the door for the Seahawks to jump atop the NFC West and the second seed in the conference — and they did just that on Monday night when they beat the Vikings 37-30. San Francisco, meanwhile, has fallen to the fifth seed despite being tied for the best record in the conference.