NFL Predictions: AFC Race to the Postseason – Week 12

NFL Predictions: AFC Race to the Postseason – Week 12
Thu 3rd December 2020

We are 12 weeks down and every AFC team has five games to go. Plenty has changed since our week 7 playoff race analysis, but it is still the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers holding off the Kansas City Chiefs for top of the conference. 

Here is the current standings in the AFC after Week 12 action. 

Team Record AFC Championship Odds
Pittsburgh Steelers 11-0 +255
Kansas City Chiefs 10-1 +135
Tennessee Titans 8-3 +1000
Buffalo Bills 8-3 +1000
Cleveland Browns 8-3 +2000
Miami Dolphins 7-4 +2500
Indianapolis Colts 7-4 +1500
Las Vegas Raiders 6-5 +3000
Baltimore Ravens 6-5 +1600
New England Patriots 5-6 +10000
Denver Broncos 4-7 +50000
Houston Texans 4-7 +25000
Los Angeles Chargers 3-8 +50000
Cincinnati Bengals 2-8-1 +150000
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-10 Off The Board
New York Jets 0-11 Off The Board

Check out our NFL predictions where we have analysed every team in the AFC playoff race, their remaining schedule and their likely finishing position, determining the postseason matchups. Check it all out below:

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +550
Odds to win AFC Championship: +255
Odds to win AFC North: -10000

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers remain undefeated for the season? It is the pressing question at the moment and the fixture doesn’t favor them at all. Three of their five remaining games are against teams with a winning record that are currently in a playoff spot. 

A week 14 trip to Buffalo poses the biggest threat to their winning streak, especially off the back of two games against tough defenses, the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Football Team. 

Even with a loss, as long as it isn’t to Cleveland in week 17, Pittsburgh should remain on top of the AFC due to Kansas City’s loss to divisional rival  Las Vegas. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Washington Football Team 
Week 14: @ Buffalo Bills
Week 15: @ Cincinnati Bengals
Week 16: vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 17: @ Cleveland Browns

Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +250
Odds to win AFC Championship: +135
Odds to win AFC West: -10000

The reigning and defending Super Bowl Champs will be kicking themselves for their home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. It will likely be the difference between finishing second in the AFC and finishing on top of the AFC, which would get them the wildcard round bye and home field advantage through the AFC playoffs.

Just two games remain against teams with a winning record and a week 15 trip to New Orleans is the toughest test. Both teams will be in a situation where a loss essentially ends their hopes of finishing on top of their respective conferences. 

Kansas City would need to win out, which they very easily could do, and Pittsburgh to lose two games, or just one if it is to Cleveland to take over the top spot of the AFC. That seems unlikely to happen. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Denver Broncos
Week 14: @ Miami Dolphins
Week 15: @ New Orleans Saints
Week 16: vs Atlanta Falcons
Week 17: vs Los Angeles Chargers

Tennessee Titans (8-3)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +2000
Odds to win AFC Championship: +1000
Odds to win AFC South: -455

After two massive wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts, the Titans have taken back control of the AFC South. 

The win over the Colts was massive for the Titans as they have a slightly trickier schedule than their divisional rivals. A home matchup with the Browns is a tough battle before travelling to Green Bay in week 16 to take on a Packers team that needs to keep winning to get top of the NFC. 

Their one game edge over the Colts will be important for the Titans, but a win this weekend should be enough for the division, provided they win the games they should against teams with losing records. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Cleveland Browns 
Week 14: @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 15: vs Detroit Lions
Week 16: @ Green Bay Packers
Week 17: @ Houston Texans

Buffalo Bills (8-3)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +2200
Odds to win AFC Championship: +1000
Odds to win AFC East: -715

Their Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Chargers wasn’t impressive by any means, and Josh Allen’s maturity with the ball is still extremely questionable, but Buffalo continues to get it done. 

Buffalo has an interesting schedule coming up. They play the 49ers in Arizona instead of San Francisco due to COVID-19, which is a big tick, before hosting the undefeated Steeelers in a very winnable game. 

The Bills sit just one game ahead of Miami for top in the AFC East, but play one less team with a winning record down the stretch, with Buffalo having the edge when the sides face each other in week 17. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ San Francisco 49ers
Week 14: vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 15: @ Denver Broncos
Week 16: @ New England Patriots
Week 17: vs Miami Dolphins 

Cleveland Browns (8-3)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +4000
Odds to win AFC Championship: +2000
Odds to win AFC North: +5000

One of the biggest surprises of the season, the Cleveland Browns sit 8-3 and have the best record of all non-divisional leaders in the league. 

In saying that, the Browns are 1-3 against teams with winning records and are boosted by a 7-0 record against teams with losing records. 

Three of their last five games come against teams with winning records and they could very easily lose all three of them, which could mean despite where they sit now and potentially finishing with a 10-6 record, Cleveland could miss the playoffs. 

A week 14 matchup at home against the struggling Baltimore Ravens could determine whether Cleveland finishes as high as fifth or misses the postseason all together. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Tennessee Titans
Week 14: vs Baltimore Ravens
Week 15: @ New York Giants
Week 16: @ New York Jets
Week 17: vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Miami Dolphins (7-4)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +5000
Odds to win AFC Championship: +2500
Odds to win AFC East: +450

Once the hottest team in the league, Miami has plateaued a bit in recent weeks and Tua has lost his starting role. 

The Dolphins say that it is due to injury, but after struggling against the Broncos two weeks ago, it will be interesting to see how the last five games pans out. Miami has three games remaining against teams with winning records, the equal most of all the wildcard hopefuls. 

A week 16 matchup with the Raiders in Las Vegas could determine who gets the last wildcard slot and face either the Chiefs or Steelers. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Cincinnati Bengals
Week 14: vs Kansas City Chiefs
Week 15: vs New England
Week 16: @ Las Vegas Raiders
Week 17: @ Buffalo Bills

Indianapolis Colts (7-4)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +3300
Odds to win AFC Championship: +1500
Odds to win AFC South: +300

Just weeks ago the Colts were leading the AFC South, now it seems as if they are playing to stay in the postseason. 

Luckily for Indianpolis, they have just two games against teams with winning records remaining, and should end the season 4-1. 

Their defense has remained scary all year and neither Buffalo or Tennessee would want to see them in the wildcard round. Four more wins, which they should do, will be enough for the Colts to finish fifth or sixth in the AFC. 

A win over Pittsburgh in week 16 could allow them to steal the AFC South back from the Titans.

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ Houston Texans
Week 14: @ Las Vegas Raiders
Week 15: vs Houston Texans
Week 16: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 17: vs Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +6000
Odds to win AFC Championship: +3000
Odds to win AFC West: +6000

The edgy team of the AFC, Las Vegas has done something no other team has been able to do in over a calendar year, beat the Kansas City Chiefs. 

The Raiders have two games remaining against teams with winning records, the Dolphins and the Colts, two teams currently in wildcard slots ahead of them. 

If Las Vegas manages to win one of those games, they’ll likely finish seventh in the AFC, get the last wildcard spot and play against the Chiefs in Kansas City on wildcard weekend. A place they have won already this season. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: @ New York Jets
Week 14: vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 15: vs Los Angeles Chargers
Week 16: vs Miami Dolphins
Week 17: @ Denver Broncos

Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Odds to win Super Bowl: +3000
Odds to win AFC Championship: +1600
Odds to win AFC North: Off The Board

What a disappointing last three weeks for the Ravens. Losers of three in a row and have fallen from third to 14th on our NFL Power Rankings during that time.

The positive for Baltimore is that they should be getting players back from the COVID-19 injury reserve before their vital week 13 matchup with Dallas. Lose that and their postseason dreams go down the drain.

The more important game is week 14 against the Cleveland Browns. This could turn into a mini ‘win and your in’ like scenario for the two sides.

Baltimore can afford to drop one game due to their easier schedule, but it can’t be to the Browns and they should be beating everyone else they play. 

Remaining Fixtures:
Week 13: vs Dallas Cowboys
Week 14: @ Cleveland Browns
Week 15: vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 16: vs New York Giants
Week 17: @ Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Predictions

The Pittsburgh Steelers do eventually lose a game, however keep their place on top of the AFC due to a tiebreaker of having a better divisional record than the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Both the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills win their last five games to remain in second and third place in the conference. 

The Tennessee Titans drop one game but stay ahead of the Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC South and hold onto fourth place. 

The Baltimore Ravens win their last five games to finish with the same record as the Colts at the end of the season, but due to beating them in week 9, the Ravens get fifth place, with Indianapolis settling for sixth. 

It is then a battle between the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders for the last wildcard slot. 

The Raiders pose the biggest threat to Kansas City in the wildcard round, but Miami gets the better of Las Vegas in week 16, meaning the Dolphins sneak into the postseason for just the second time since 2008.

Cleveland never improves against teams with winning records, going 2-3 to finish the year and slipping out of their current postseason spot despite finishing with a 10-6 record. 

Check out our final predicted standings below:

Team Record AFC Championship Odds
Pittsburgh Steelers 15-1 +255
Kansas City Chiefs 15-1 +135
Buffalo Bills 13-3 +1000
Tennessee Titans 12-4 +1000
Baltimore Ravens 11-5 +1600
Indianapolis Colts 11-5 +1500
Miami Dolphins 10-6 +2500

Wildcard Round

Bye – (1) Pittsburgh Steelers 

(7) Miami Dolphins @ (2) Kansas City Chiefs

(6) Indianapolis Colts @ (3) Buffalo Bills

(5) Baltimore Ravens @ (4) Tennessee Titans

Divisional Round

(6) Indianapolis Colts @ (2) Kansas City Chiefs

(4) Tennessee Titans @ (1) Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC Championship

(4) Tennessee Titans @ (2) Kansas City Chiefs

AFC Champions – (2) Kansas City Chiefs (+135)

*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of PointsBet

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Image by: Brook Ward

Tim is a keen follower of all American sports, in particular the NBA and NFL. He has followed both sports for over a decade and would happily sit down and watch every game, regardless of who is playing! No matter the sport, whether it be NFL and NBA or even MLB, NHL and UFC, Tim covers it from every angle, keeping up to date with all the news to bring you the most up-to-date information and the best picks and predictions across all sports.