Week 13 in the NFL was certainly a wild one, as Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers upset the Kansas City Chiefs, the Arizona Cardinals blew out the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals shocked the Jacksonville Jaguars in overtime.
The playoff picture is something everyone is paying attention to with the regular season winding down. We have quite the jumbled picture in the AFC, with seeds 5-10 all having a 7-5 or 6-6 record. Let's discuss the 12 teams vying for wild card spots as we enter Week 14. Which ones are legitimate contenders, and which don't have a realistic shot to even make the dance?
Playoff simulation percentages via SportsLine
- Miami Dolphins (AFC East, 9-3)
- Baltimore Ravens (AFC North, 9-3)
- Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West, 8-4)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South, 8-4)
Wild card contenders
12. New England Patriots (2-10)
Sunday's 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers marked the Patriots' fifth game this season scoring seven or fewer points. The Patriots had five such games in Tom Brady's 283 starts with New England (H/T Yahoo Sports). The Patriots are the first team in the Super Bowl era to lose three straight games all while allowing 10 or fewer points. Where's Bill Belichick getting traded this offseason?
Playoff chances: 0.0%
11. New York Jets (4-8)
The Jets went from Zach Wilson to Tim Boyle to Trevor Siemian, and now, no one knows who will start on Sunday. The Jets have scored 10 offensive touchdowns this season. That's the fewest by any team through 12 games since the 1993 Bengals.
You know what pairs nicely with poor play on the field? Drama off the field of course. I would love to know. The Athletic reported that Wilson is reluctant to start for the Jets even though New York is leaning toward making another change, but Robert Saleh said Wilson came into his office Monday and said he wants the job. What's going on?
Playoff chances: 0.3%
10. Tennessee Titans (4-8)
If you didn't watch the Titans' overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, then you should go back and do so. In this game, we saw back-to-back punts blocked, a "pick two," where the Titans returned an intercepted two-point conversion all the way to the house, Nick Folk missed an extra point with backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill holding due to Ryan Stonehouse's rather gruesome season-ending injury and Will Levis forced a fumble off of his own fumble, and then recovered said fumble. There are definitely things I'm leaving out, but the bottom line is that this game was insane.
Tennessee is playing better than it did during its three-game losing streak. The win over the Carolina Panthers helped out the locker room, but this team still looks like the worst in the AFC South, and now, Jeffery Simmons is going to miss some time due to a knee injury.
Playoff chances: 0.1%
9. Los Angeles Chargers (5-7)
I said last week the Chargers looked flat on both sides of the ball, and that was certainly true on Sunday in their 6-0 victory over the Patriots as well. I'm excited to see what Ben Johnson can do with Justin Herbert in 2024.
Playoff chances: 13.9%
8. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)
The Raiders had a bye this past week. Their last time out, they had a chance to record what would have been a statement victory over the Chiefs, but instead blew a 14-0 lead. The Raiders are now 2-2 under interim head coach Antonio Pierce. Rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell actually looked solid vs. Kansas City, completing 23 of 33 passes for 248 yards and one touchdown, while Josh Jacobs rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. It's difficult power-ranking this team, but the Raiders showed against the Dolphins they can be feisty.
Playoff chances: 2.4%
7. Cincinnati Bengals (6-6)
I know I wasn't the only one to give up on the Bengals when Joe Burrow went down for the year. After all, Cincinnati didn't get off to a hot start, then had to put its trust in Jake Browning, who hadn't made an NFL start until last week. However, he looked pretty great against the Jaguars on Monday night.
Browning completed 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards and one touchdown, and added another score on the ground, while the Bengals offense racked up a whopping 491 yards of total offense. The Bengals were double-digit underdogs, yet went into Jacksonville and upset a team that had been playing great football.
The Bengals said they were confident in Burrow's backup. That wasn't coach speak. Maybe I have the Bengals too low on this list, but I don't want to overreact to one game. Either way, everyone is intrigued with what Cincinnati can do moving forward.
Playoff chances: TBA
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
Getting blown out on your home field by the Cardinals. Yikes. Pittsburgh unfortunately loses quarterback Kenny Pickett for , so we will get to see Mitch Trubisky operate in an offense that averages 16 points per game, the fewest by any team above .500 through 12 games since the 1992 Denver Broncos.
Arizona went 10 of 17 on third downs vs. the Steelers defense, and a perfect 3-for-3 in the red zone. Up next on the Steelers schedule are the Patriots, Colts and Bengals.
Playoff chances: 61%
5. Cleveland Browns (7-5)
The Browns started their fourth different quarterback of the season Sunday, and the veteran Joe Flacco threw for 254 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 17-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Deshaun Watson went 5-1 as the Browns starter while the offense averaged 28.7 points per game in those contests. With all other quarterbacks, Cleveland is 2-4, and averaging just 14.3 points per game.
The Browns defense isn't performing at the same level it was early in the year. The 36 points allowed to the Rams was the second-highest total this season, and it comes on the heels of allowing 29 points to Russell Wilson and the Broncos.
Playoff chances: 64.9%
4. Denver Broncos (6-6)
The Broncos needed a win over the Houston Texans to help improve their playoff odds, and they were in position to extend their five-game win streak until Wilson threw his third interception of the day in the end zone. The Broncos offense went 0-for-11 on third down, while Texans rookie pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. looked like a monster against the Denver offensive line. You have to credit Vance Joseph for the turnaround he's helped orchestrate on the defensive side of the ball, but can Denver rebound from this loss and make the postseason?
Up next for the Broncos are the Chargers, Detroit Lions, Patriots, Chargers again and then Raiders. I don't think they win out, but maybe 4-1 is best-case scenario? We'll see.
Playoff chances: 12%
3. Indianapolis Colts (7-5)
How about these Colts? I've called them the most intriguing team in the NFL over the past couple weeks, and they won an overtime thriller in Nashville on Sunday. Gardner Minshew threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns, and Michael Pittman Jr. is on a tear with two straight 100-yard performances.
The Colts are on their first four-game win streak since the Andrew Luck days. While this team has struggled with inconsistencies, maybe the Colts are hitting their stride at the right time? They have a winnable schedule down the stretch.
Playoff chances: 58.6%
2. Buffalo Bills (6-6)
The Bills were on a bye this past week. While their playoff chances do not look good, I think this team is still pretty decent. Joe Brady breathed some life into this Bills offense, which scored 34 points on the Philadelphia Eagles their last time out. The Bills have the second-best point differential (+101) by a team .500 or worse through 12 games in NFL history. Buffalo hasn't lost by seven-plus points in 35 games now.
Playoff chances: 16.2%
1. Houston Texans (7-5)
The Texans are 7-3 in their last 10 games. C.J. Stroud is the first rookie to lead the NFL in passing yards at the end of any week since at least 1950, and the defense held the Broncos to 0-for-11 on third down. Losing Tank Dell for the year absolutely stinks since he was on pace to be the best rookie wideout in Texans franchise history, but Stroud still has Nico Collins, who exploded for 191 yards and a touchdown this past week and Noah Brown.
The Texans are arguably the biggest surprise of the 2023 NFL season, and man, does the future look bright in H-Town.
Playoff chances: 74%