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NFL Playoff Picture: Steelers Beat Broncos; Jets Don't Get Help

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The early afternoon games saw the Jets gaining no ground on AFC Wild Card competitor Kansas City because the Chiefs beat the Broncos. The late afternoon games saw the Jets gaining no ground on AFC Wild Card competitor Pittsburgh because the Steelers beat the Broncos 34-27.

The Broncos squandered a 27-10 lead in this game. After scoring touchdowns on their last four possessions of the first half, Denver was shut out in the second half.

With the win, the Steelers moved to 9-5, tied with the Jets and the Chiefs. Kansas City and Pittsburgh currently own the two Wild Card spots based on tiebreakers. The most likely scenario for the Jets to make the Playoffs involves winning out and one of those teams losing one of their last two.

This game does open up another scenario. The Broncos are stuck on 10 wins. If they lose out, and the Chiefs win out, Kansas City wins the AFC West at 11-5. The Broncos would be 10-6 fighting for a Wild Card. The Jets can get to 11-5 by beating New England and Buffalo.

I am sure there is going to be some degree of panic because the Chiefs and Steelers finish with easy schedules on paper, but crazy upsets happen all the time in the NFL, especially when teams have Playoff spots on the line. Sometimes they play tight. Sometimes they get an opponent with nothing to lose that hits a few trick plays to erase the talent gap. There is still much football to be played.

For now, here are the AFC standings.

1. New England 12-2

2. Cincinnati 11-3

3. Denver 10-4

4. Houston 7-7

5. Kansas City 9-5

6. Pittsburgh 9-5


7. Jets 9-5

8. Oakland 6-8

9. Buffalo 6-8

10. Indianapolis 6-8

11. Jacksonville 5-9

12. Miami 5-9

13. Baltimore 4-10

14. San Diego 4-10

15. Cleveland 3-11

16. Tennessee 3-11