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NFL Week 11: AFC playoff picture

The AFC playoff picture is much clearer than the NFC, but it remains a mystery how it will all shake out by the end of New Year’s Day. While it appears three teams will come from the AFC West, all could end up either as the first or sixth seeds.

Here’s what the situation looks like going into Sunday, followed by analysis…

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

The week won’t be seeing a loss by the Patriots, who are on the road against the San Francisco 49ers. Since winning 28-0 in the opening week, the 49ers have not won a game and won’t be doing so in Week 11, with New England ready to lay a serious beating.

The second-seeded Chiefs probably get out of the week with a win as well. Kansas City is 7-2 and hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arrowhead Stadium, a place it has not lost since Week 5 of the 2015 season. The Chiefs will also get Justin Houston back, their All-Pro linebacker who has missed the entire season while rehabbing an ACL injury.

Perhaps the most important game to the picture is on Monday night, with the Raiders and Texans locking horns in Mexico City. Oakland is coming off a bye week, but how much rest is too much with the additional day? Houston is 6-3 and handled the Jaguars with ease last Sunday, but can Brock Osweiler finally step up his game? Against Jacksonville, Osweiler threw for just 99 yards. That won’t be enough against Derek Carr, who has some people talking about the MVP race.

Baltimore is drawing the toughest assignment of the week, having to play the Cowboys on the road. Dallas is a league-best 8-1 and could be the hottest team in the league, not having lost since Week 1. Baltimore does have the best run defense in the NFL, but the Cowboys will challenge that with the combination of Ezekiel Elliott and their offensive line.

Finally, the Titans and Colts lock up in a game that quietly is very important. While Houston is 6-3 and leading the South, whoever wins this game could challenge the Texans, who have a very hard schedule down the stretch. Indianapolis is trying to get back to .500 for the first time since Week 2, playing Tennessee at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Titans are hoping to get revenge after losing a few weeks ago at home to Andrew Luck and Co., despite scoring 26 points.

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