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AFC playoff picture, Week 12

The AFC playoff picture is going to be fascinating the rest of the season. With six weeks to go, the Western division is all kinds of nuts, while the East has become intriguing in the wild card pursuit. Meanwhile, somebody has to win the South and North, so there’s that.

Here’s how everything looks going into Thanksgiving and Week 12 action:

1. Oakland Raiders (8-2)
2. New England Patriots (8-2)
3. Houston Texans (6-4)
4. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3)
6. Denver Broncos (7-3)
============7. Miami Dolphins (6-4)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5)
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
10. Buffalo Bills (5-5)

This week could tell us a ton about where we are headed over the last five weeks. The Dolphins should have the easiest assignment of the week, taking on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami has own five consecutive games, including a 10-point comeback over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

The second-easiest assignment belongs to the Bills. Buffalo is at home to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have become a total joke for approximately the 37th year running. Blake Bortles has been terrible, Gus Bradley has been terrible and the team is 2-8 terrible. After winning on the road last weekend over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bills should have an easy time taking apart the lowly Jaguars.

On Thursday, the Colts will be hosting the Steelers in the late game. This was originally going to be one of the more entertaining games of the year with Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger playing a game of first to 400 yards. Instead, Luck will be out for the contest because he has a concussion, meaning that we get to watch Scott Tolzien. In other words, the Colts are going to lose by 35 points.

This weekend, the Raiders will be trying to maintain their one-game lead in the West when they take on the Carolina Panthers. Carolina is only 4-6 but is playing much better of late. The Panthers have to win the game, and while the Raiders are at home, they are on a short week while Carolina hasn’t played since last Thursday. This could be a very fun matchup.

Lastly, the Chiefs are visiting the Broncos in the Sunday night matchup. Kansas City is coming off a brutal loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has some key players on the injury report including Jeremy Maclin, Jaye Howard, Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe. Denver is coming off a bye, at home and completely healthy sans C.J. Anderson. Whoever wins will gain a huge advantage over the other, with the rematch coming in Week 16 at Arrowhead Stadium on Christmas night.

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