At the turn of the century, the 2000 NFL playoffs began with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the AFC’s top seed. Buffalo, after a decade filled with four Super Bowl appearances, made the field as a wild card team.
Entering December, the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs were a pair of AFC teams heading in different directions. The Titans at 8-4 looked poised to win their first AFC South title in a decade, while the Chiefs were trying to snap a four-game skid, fighting for their playoff hopes.
Over the course of the last decade, it hasn’t been too often that when the Jaguars and Titans play one another there is so much riding on the line. But for the last two years that hasn’t been the case.
It was supposed to be a promising season for the Oakland Raiders, who will not be going to the playoffs in 2017. Instead it's the Los Angeles Chargers with something to play for in this one. They'll get into the postseason with a win and some help. LA needs the Titans to lose to the Jaguars, who really have nothing to play for and the Bills to lose to the Dolphins on the road.
Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens will decide one of the AFC’s two wild-card berths. If the Ravens win, they’ll clinch the fifth seed along with their seventh postseason appearance in 10 with John Harbaugh as head coach.
Nothing says Christmas like a little football between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans. The Steelers are coming off a crushing defeat at home against the Patriots in which they had a couple of chances to win and were denied by a stupid catch rule and a stupid quarterback decision. That game also saw the team lose their best wide receiver Antonio Brown for the next two weeks.
The Indianapolis Colts will travel to their old stomping grounds in Week 16 to take on the Baltimore Ravens. In a series that dates back to 1996, the Colts are 10-4 overall against the team that would ultimately replace them in Baltimore. However, the Colts haven’t been quite as fortunate playing in their former home city in recent years.
There are two more weeks left in the NFL season after this one, so nothing will be set in stone... but let’s be real: The top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs will be on the line Sunday when the Patriots visit the Steelers in Pittsburgh.