Week 13 of the 2022 NFL season has come and gone, which means we are one week closer to the start of the postseason. With both the AFC and NFC having a bit of a bottleneck going on as teams jockey for playoff position, let’s take a look at how the AFC stacks up currently.
The AFC West division looks to be the most disappointing in the conference, a division that was once labeled as one that could send all four teams to the postseason. But one Russell Wilson meltdown and an inconsistent Josh McDaniels later, only the Chargers and Chiefs are left in it.
With five weeks left in the regular season, let’s see how the conference sits currently heading into Week 14.
1. Buffalo Bills (9-3, 1st in AFC East)
By jumping the Kansas City Chiefs in the standings, the Buffalo Bills have an inside track to securing the top spot in the AFC playoff race. Josh Allen looks to have shaken off any arm injury concerns from a few weeks back, and with matchups upcoming against the Jets, Dolphins, and Bears, they will be looking to improve their dreadful 1-2 divisional record.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3, 1st in AFC West)
The only other nine-win team in the AFC is the Chiefs, and they have quite the easy schedule to close out the year, great news for their playoff chances. With divisional matchups against the Broncos (twice) and Raiders, plus games against the Seahawks and Texans, Patrick Mahomes looks to have smooth sailing to close out the season, keeping pressure on the Bills.
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4, 1st in AFC North)
Having just lost Lamar Jackson for at least one game, the Baltimore Ravens turned to Tyler Huntley to win a nail-biter over the Broncos in Week 13. Huntley has had to take over for Jackson in the past due to injury, and he has helped keep the Ravens afloat, something he will need to do here as well.
Finishing out the year by facing the Bengals Browns, Falcons, and Steelers (twice), the Ravens certainly still have work to do if they want to hold onto their slim divisional lead.
4. Tennessee Titans (7-5, 1st in AFC South)
If it were not for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their .500 record, the Tennessee Titans would be the worst divisional leader this season – and the shoe definitely fits. While Derrick Henry certainly has been himself, Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the offense has struggled, and their defense has been alright, even though they did just allow 450+ yards and 35 points to the Philadelphia Eagles.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4, 2nd in AFC North)
The injury to Jackson opens the door wide open in the AFC North, and the Cincinnati Bengals look to be the best suited to take advantage of that. Joe Burrow welcomed back Ja’Marr Chase with open arms (while not forgetting about Tee Higgins), and their Week 13 win over the Chiefs marked their third in a row and sixth in their last seven games.
The Browns, Buccaneers, Patriots, Bills, and Ravens all remain on the docket for Cincinnati, so plenty of postseason teams left for the Bengals to fight through, potentially strengthening them on their way back to the playoffs.
6. Miami Dolphins (8-4, 2nd in AFC East)
The renaissance of Tua Tagovailoa has put the Miami Dolphins in a great spot in the AFC, even if they currently sit in sixth place. One game behind the Bills and currently holding the tiebreaker, the Dolphins are sitting pretty.
Needing to get through the Chargers, Bills, Packers, Patriots, and Jets to close out the year, Mike McDaniel will need to keep his guys focused as they will be facing four AFC teams all capable of factoring into the final playoff bracket.
7. New York Jets (7-5, 3rd in AFC East)
Even with the benching of Zach Wilson, the New York Jets have rebounded well and kept themselves in the playoff picture for the time being. The AFC East is looking like one of the tougher divisions this year, something everyone obviously predicted back in September.
The Jets must face the Bills, Lions, Jaguars, Seahawks, and Dolphins to close out the season, tough matchups even against teams that likely will not make the postseason. If Mike White wants to remain the folk hero that the fan base anointed him as, this stretch to end the year is going to have to be a great one.
8. New England Patriots (6-6, 4th in AFC East)
The New England Patriots are at the bottom, both in their division and in the playoff picture, and looking up, but they still are in the hunt. Mac Jones has done enough to overcome the shortcomings of Matt Patricia as the team’s offensive coordinator, and New England always seems to stick around when playoff time comes around.
The Patriots end their season with trips to Arizona, Las Vegas, and Buffalo while hosting the Bengals and Dolphins, so nothing will come easy for Bill Belichick’s squad, making their playoff chances a bit slim.
9. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6, 2nd in AFC West)
The final team still in the hunt in the AFC is the Los Angeles Chargers, a team that was blasted by injuries on the offensive side of the ball but has started to reap the benefits of having some of those pieces back. As Keenan Allen gets back on the same page with Justin Herbert, and Austin Ekeler continues to do Austin Ekeler things, this team may be the most dangerous team that no one wants to play this late in the year.
An aspect definitely working in their favor is their remaining schedule, which includes home matchups with the Dolphins, Titans, and Rams, and road matchups with the Colts and Broncos. While still needing to have some luck in their corner, the Chargers realistically could finish their season on a 4-1 streak, putting them at 10-7 and in a good spot to sneak into the playoffs.