© Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The mad dash to the NFL playoffs is coming down to its final three weeks and, in the AFC, clubs are still jockeying for position before hopefully making a run to Super Bowl LV. As things stand coming into Week 15, there are seven teams vying for the three wild card spots: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami, Baltimore, Las Vegas, New England, and Denver. Some of those clubs are only still "in the hunt" on a mathematical level and have no realistic shot of stamping a ticket into the postseason, but there others on the fringe of the current playoff picture that could find themselves in the dance before the regular season is done.

Today, we're going to take a dive into the deep end of the AFC playoff race and rank each of the contenders, and project where they'll ultimately land once the dust settles on Week 17. 

  1. Cleveland Browns (9-4) -- Prediction: No. 5 seed

Despite the loss against the Ravens in Week 14, the Browns are still in a prime position to get into the playoffs. They likely will only need to win two of their remaining three games to do so and there's a very easy case to be made that they go 3-0 over this final stretch. While the Giants have been a scrappy team under head coach Joe Judge this season, the Browns are a better unit from top-to-bottom. Cleveland draws the Giants in Week 15. Sticking in New York, Cleveland will have the winless Jets in Week 16 and should have no problem cruising to a W there. Finally, if the Pittsburgh Steelers continue their current free-fall, you could even be looking at a possible Week 17 matchup that determines the AFC North. While we'll cross that bridge once we get there, there's still a clear path for the Browns to get into the postseason. 

Conference record: 6-4
Strength of victory: .363
Final three: at Giants, at Jets, vs. Steelers

2. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) -- Prediction: No. 6 seed

Indy's remaining matchups with their AFC South rivals could end up having major implications as to who will win the division. Currently, the Tennessee Titans have the edge over the Colts for the division lead thanks to a stronger winning percentage within the AFC South. If the Colts were to beat the Texans and Jaguars over the next three weeks and Tennessee were to lose against the Texans in Week 17, however, that'd draw them even at 4-2 within the division and possibly trigger other tiebreaker scenarios so long as their overall records stay the same. With the division still in play, there's a good chance the Colts get in. That said, they'd be the No. 6 seed in this current snapshot thanks to their Week 5 loss to Cleveland. 

Conference record: 5-4
Strength of victory: .423
Final three: vs.Texans, at Steelers, vs. Jaguars

3. Baltimore Ravens (8-5) -- Prediction No. 7 seed

This is where things get a bit more interesting. At this point, no remaining club we'll break down is truly in the hunt to win their division and are solely looking to achieve a wild card berth. The Ravens drastically helped their playoff chances thanks to that wild Monday Night Football win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 14. They are still currently on the outside looking in at the postseason but have a much easier path to the playoffs than the current No. 7 seed -- the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore's final three opponents have a combined record of 8-30 this season and two of those final three contests will be at home. As long as they take care of business, they should be able to make the leap over Miami. 

Conference record: 5-5
Strength of victory: .462
Final three: vs. Jaguars, vs. Giants, at Bengals

4. Miami Dolphins (9-4) -- Prediction: Out

For Miami, Buffalo has a two-game lead and currently owns the head-to-head tiebreaker within the AFC East, so that path seems all but lost. The Bills would have to lose out and the Dolphins would have to win out over the final three weeks for Miami to leapfrog over them for the division lead so it's a bit unlikely. To make matters worse for Brian Flores' club, Baltimore's win over the Browns on Monday Night Football put a serious dent in their playoff hopes. Now, there's an even greater emphasis on winning out to maintain that one-game lead over Baltimore. That said, facing the Patriots, Raiders, and Bills isn't exactly the smoothest of roads to go down. 

Conference record: 5-4
Strength of victory: .274
Final three: vs. Patriots, at Raiders, at Bills

5. Las Vegas Raiders (7-6) - Prediction: Out 

This is another tier drop. While the teams mentioned above have relatively simple paths to the playoffs, this is the point where things would need to go haywire. Las Vegas has lost three of their last four and just fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther so they don't particularly look like a team gearing up for a postseason run, even though they are still breathing mathematically. Jon Gruden's club would need to win out to even make a playoff berth possible but even with that they don't hold their destiny in their hands. 

Conference record: 5-4
Strength of victory: .484
Final three: vs. Chargers, vs. Dolphins at Broncos

6. New England Patriots (6-7) - Prediction: Out

New England is in an unfamiliar spot. They are on the outside looking in on the playoffs for the first time in forever. Despite there still being a sliver of hope that Bill Belichick could squeak into the postseason, it's not realistic. The offense continues to look lost under Cam Newton and was just beat down by the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. They'd have to win out to give themselves a shot, but a 1-2 finish to 2020 seems like the more likely road they'll be heading down. 

Conference record: 5-4
Strength of victory: .436
Final three: at Dolphins, vs. Bills, vs. Jets

7. Denver Broncos (5-8) - Prediction: Out 

Things would have to go completely bananas for the Broncos to get in at 8-8, but it's not impossible. You likely need both the Ravens and Dolphins to lose out, the Raiders to lose two of their final three and New England would need to lose at least one more game. Again, that's highly unlikely but a path remains. More realistically, the Broncos will be a spectator this postseason and look to build a more serious contender in 2021. 

Conference record: 4-5
Strength of victory: .338
Final three: vs. Bills, at Chargers, vs. Raiders