NFL: AFC Playoff Picture Is Taking Shape

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer INovember 16, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates his teams 35-34 victory over the New England Patriots after the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 15, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With more than half of the 2009 season in the books, it is time to start preparing for the NFL's postseason. Week 10 was a roller coaster for some teams, while others started setting themselves apart from the pack.

No. 1 Seed - Indianapolis Colts (9-0). After a STUNNING win against the New England Patriots, one that saw Bill Belichick literally give the Indianapolis Colts life inside their own 30-yard line, the Colts are in position to have smooth sailing all the way to the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The Patriots had the chance to position themselves only one game behind the Colts, and the bad decision by Bill Belichick could cost the Patriots playoff seeding, and a bye week down the road.

Now the question is, can the Colts remain undefeated?

No. 2 Seed - Cincinnati Bengals (7-2). As shocking as this is to write, that is now where the Bengals have positioned themselves. With a 7-2 record, and a divisional record of 5-0, they will hold tie breakers over the Steelers and Ravens, plus in conference, they are 5-2, with an easy schedule remaining.

No. 3 Seed - New England Patriots (6-3). Losing to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night hurt the Patriots for numerous reasons. Trailing the Colts by four games (by virtue of the head to head tie breaker), there is no way the Patriots will be able to catch the Colts, but the loss gives the Bengals a better record than the Patriots.

No. 4 Seed - San Diego Chargers (6-3). The Chargers and Broncos are deadlocked and face each other in Week 11. The Chargers are on a four-game win streak, and are looking for another division crown.

No. 5 Seed - Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3). After losing to the Bengals on Sunday, the Steelers are now playing for a wild card spot. They currently hold the head-to-head tie breaker with both the Chargers and Broncos (head-to-head match up), so regardless of who wins the battle for the No. 5 seed over either of them. The hardest remaining games on tap for the Steelers are two games against the Ravens.

No. 6 Seed - Denver Broncos (6-3). Since the Broncos started out the season on fire, winning their first six games, they have lost three in a row. The losses to the Steelers and Ravens will hurt in the battle for playoff positioning. The Broncos best chance to make the playoffs will be to win the division, because if it comes down to tie breakers, the Broncos could be sitting at home come January.

Still in the hunt.

Baltimore Ravens (5-4). I am assuming the Ravens will beat the Browns on Monday Night Football because, well, they are the Browns. The Ravens have been winning with offense, and still have a defense that is near the top of the league. All the Ravens have to do it finish with the same record as the Broncos for them to be playing in January. With two big games against the Steelers still to be played, the Seeding could be switched.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4). With a 3-1 home record, and a 2-3 road record, the Jaguars are going to have to start winning on the road if they want to make the playoffs. Even if they get there, they will still have to go on the road in the playoffs, which means IF they make it, it will be an early exit.

Houston Texans (5-4). The Texans are on pace for their best record in team history, and could sneak into the playoffs as a wild card team. They have no chance of catching the Colts, but still are in the hunt for the first playoff appearance ever.

The AFC North and AFC South are both in position to possibly send three teams to the playoffs this year. The top two seeds are more than likely to come from these divisions as well. Is it the East and West divisions of the AFC are just that weak, or is it just the North and South are that good?

There are still seven games to play, and a lot can happen in those seven weeks. This is how the AFC Playoff field would look if the playoffs started today.