The final playoff seeds in the AFC aren't set in stone, but with Week 16 victories, the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals will officially be part of the postseason picture.
There is a certain symmetry between these two teams, and both won in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
It seemed impossible that the Colts could even come close to playoff contention in 2012, as they sat at No. 32 on nearly every analyst's preseason power rankings.
However, thanks to uncommon resilience and a knack for pulling out close games, the Colts have secured a playoff berth with yet another nail-biting 20-13 victory in Week 16 over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
It certainly wasn't pretty for the 10-5 Colts, who solidified their status as the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Giving up 352 yards rushing typically wouldn't translate to a win, but Indianapolis stymied the Chiefs' passing game all afternoon.
Meanwhile, No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck broke Cam Newton's rookie passing yardage record and led the Colts on a game-winning drive with the contest knotted at 13 apiece in the fourth quarter. He found favorite target Reggie Wayne for the decisive seven-yard touchdown with just over four minutes remaining.
The Bengals were in a similar position as this year's Colts in 2011, but they found a way to scrap their way to the playoffs. A second-year slump was expected, especially after an early four-game losing streak, but this isn't the typical Cincinnati "Bungles."
At Heinz Field on Sunday, against mighty AFC North division rival Pittsburgh, the Bengals weathered a physical slugfest with the Steelers. Josh Brown capped it off with a 43-yard field goal with eight seconds left to give Marvin Lewis' bunch a crucial 13-10 win.
Here are the AFC playoffs as they stand through Sunday's early results:
AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
|No. 1 Seed Houston Texans (12-3) Clinched AFC South|
|No. 2 Seed Denver Broncos (11-3) Clinched AFC West|
|No. 3 Seed New England Patriots (11-4) Clinched AFC East|
| No. 4 Seed Baltimore Ravens (9-5) Lead AFC North; Clinched Playoff Berth|
|WILD CARD LEADERS|
|No. 5 Seed Indianapolis Colts (10-5)|
|No. 6 Seed Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)|