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AFC Playoff Picture: Where do things stand after Thanksgiving Day’s games?

How are things shaping up in the middle of Week 12?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Since we last took a look at the AFC Playoff Picture, we have seen changes at every playoff spot except the three seed which the Texans have held onto. Even with that much movement, we only have one new team in the top six of the AFC. The Steelers have taken a half game lead over the Ravens in the AFC North, and they now hold the four seed.

  1. Oakland Raiders (8-2-0) After being passed for the AFC West lead during their bye week, the Raiders took it back and the #1 seed in the AFC when they defeated the Texans in Mexico City on Monday Night Football.
  2. New England Patriots (8-2-0) They lost a very tough game to the Seattle Seahawks, but fortunately for the Pats, their next game was in San Francisco and the 49ers are the perfect opponent to get right against. The Pats got right to the tune of a 30-17 victory.
  3. Houston Texans (6-4-0) Thanks to some terrible officiating and green laser pointer, the Texans dropped a very winnable game to the Raiders on Monday night. Thanks to playing in a division without any other competent football teams, they still lead the AFC South.
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-0) Last night, the Steelers faced an Indianapolis Colts team without Andrew Luck. That went about as well as you would expect for both teams, and if the season were to end right now, Pittsburgh would host a playoff game.
  5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3-0) Their time as the two seed was short lived as the Chiefs quickly suffered and ugly close loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  6. Denver Broncos (7-3-0) Plenty happened both ahead of and behind the Broncos while they were idle, but it had no effect on where they stand. They’ll have a chance on Sunday night to catch the Chiefs, though.

In the hunt: Miami Dolphins (6-4-0), Baltimore Ravens (5-5-0), Buffalo Bills (5-5-0), Indianapolis Colts (5-6-0), Tennessee Titans (5-6-0), San Diego Chargers (4-6-0)

The San Diego Chargers are three games back of the sixth-seeded Denver Broncos with six games left to play. Their actual odds of making the playoffs are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-in-25. What that likely means is that to have any real shot of playing after Week 17, the Chargers will need to win all of their remaining games. And even doing that would not guarantee them anything (other than another year of Mike McCoy, I suppose).

Hopefully, the Chargers can continue to develop their young players and not suffer any injuries that will linger into next season. That’s the most we can realistically hope for right now, but realism is overrated when talking about being a fan and the Chargers are still technically alive.