Updated AFC Playoff Picture No Change At Top

Updated AFC Playoff Picture: No Change At Top

Written by on November 23, 2020

The top two teams in the AFC entering Week 11 were the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers and one-loss Kansas City Chiefs, and both won Sunday so they remain the cream of the crop in the conference – the Chiefs are the betting favorites at Mybookie.

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Kansas City nearly was upset at Las Vegas but pulled out a 35-31 victory. Taking over at the Kansas City 25-yard line with less than two minutes remaining, Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs down the field in just one minute and 15 seconds as he hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 22-yard touchdown to win it.

Mahomes completed 34-of-45 passes for 348 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception overall. Mahomes’ only two interceptions of the season have come against the Raiders, as Trayvon Mullen got Mahomes in the red zone in this one on what looked like a possible miscommunication with Demarcus Robinson in the first half. Mahomes has six 300-yard games and multiple touchdown passes in all but one contest this season. Mahomes faces a tougher Week 12 test against the Bucs.

Kansas City moved to 30-3 in its last 33 matchups against divisional opponents with the victory as Head Coach Andy Reid tallied his 19th win in 22 career games immediately following the bye week. The Chiefs have won eight straight road games – the second-longest streak in franchise history. Kansas City now owns a three-game lead in the AFC West with six games to go.

Pittsburgh had no trouble in winning at Jacksonville, 27-3. The Steelers improved to 10-0 for the first time in franchise history and became the first team to win their first 10 games of the season since 2015 [Carolina started 14-0 that year and New England 10-0).

The Steelers are 18th team since 1966 to start a season 10-0. Of the previous 17, nine reached the Super Bowl, and six of them won it, most recently the Saints in 2009. They’ll have a chance to complete a season sweep of the Ravens on Thanksgiving as they near the AFC North title.

Pittsburgh rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool had a touchdown reception in Week 11 vs. the Jags and has 10 touchdowns (eight receiving, two rushing) this season. Claypool is the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era and the fourth in league history with at least 10 touchdowns in his first 10 career games, joining Billy Howton (11 touchdowns in 1952), Bill Groman (10 in 1960) and Harlon Hill (10 in 1954).

The Steelers have scored at least 24 points in every game this season. “We gotta put more points on the board,” QB Ben Roethlisberger insisted after Sunday’s win. “Offensively, we got the win but we know we need to be better.” Roethlisberger went 32-for-46 passing, for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, before being relieved late by Mason Rudolph.

The Buffalo Bills were off in Week 11 but are on track to win their first division title since 1995, when their coach was Marv Levy and their quarterback was Jim Kelly. The Bills would be the AFC’s No. 3 seed as things stand now.

QB Josh Allen has far exceeded even the loftiest of expectations for him in his third NFL season. He has thrown for 2,871 yards with a completion percentage over 68 percent, a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio and a fourth quarter passer rating of 115.4. His play and decision making has given Buffalo a shot a victory in all but two games this season.

Jordan Poyer has been Buffalo’s best defensive player. He leads the team in tackles, interceptions, tied for second in tackles for loss, second in pass breakups and third in quarterback hits.

The Bills opened as 5.5-point favorites this week vs. the visiting Chargers.

The Indianapolis Colts are the No. 4 seed and are tied for first in the AFC South with the Titans – the Colts currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker but the teams play again this Sunday. If the Titans lose that, they’ll effectively be two games out of the AFC South race with five games to play. And with the way the AFC is shaping up, it could take 10 wins to secure a playoff spot, even with an expanded seven-team field.

The Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders round out the current AFC playoff field. At 7-3, the Browns are off to their best start through 10 games since 1994. Could be a mirage, though, as Cleveland has defeated only one team (Indianapolis) that currently has a winning record.

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