clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Playoff Picture: Bengals climb up AFC Standings

New, comments

The Broncos are chasing the Bengals now for one of the AFC's top two seeds.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With the 2015 NFL regular season now halfway over, it's time for a look at the latest playoff standings in the AFC.

For the first time this season, the Cincinnati Bengals are now firmly holding one of the top two seeds in the AFC thanks to the Denver Broncos' upset loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts knocked the Broncos from the ranks of the unbeaten, which leaves the Bengals and New England Patriots as the AFC's lone unbeaten teams.

It's pretty much a given that 7-1 Denver, 8-0 Cincinnati and 8-0 New England are going to occupy the top three seeds in the AFC with 4-5 Indianapolis still far behind. The real question is who wins that top seed and earns home field advantage through the AFC playoffs. The Patriots and Bengals don't play each other, so if they finish with a similar record, it may come down to who has a better conference record and even strength of schedule.

As of now, New England has no conference losses and a stronger strength of schedule, which is why they would get the nod over Cincinnati for the top seed in the AFC. The good news is the Bengals would still get a first-round bye in the playoffs by being the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but even that's going to be hard to keep.

After all, Denver hosts Cincinnati in Week 16 on Monday Night Football. It's certainly a game the Bengals could win, but it may very well be their toughest game of the regular season. Making it even more crucial is that it could determine whether it's Cincinnati or Denver hosting a potential rematch weeks later in the playoffs.

As for the teams earning the other playoff spots in the AFC, the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers would win the Wild Card spots if the playoffs began today. Both teams have five wins, the most of any non-division leader in the AFC. The Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders are right behind them at 4-4, and it will likely be two from this group of four teams who earn the final two playoff spots in the AFC.

Even if the Bengals don't get a first-round bye, you have to like their chances against the Bills, Jets, Raiders or even Steelers if any of those teams are tasked with coming to Paul Brown Stadium in a Wild Card matchup.

With that said, here's a look at the latest AFC playoff picture and breakdown, via ESPN:

Wins

Losses

Ties

%

CONFERENCE

SOS

REASON

1. Patriots

8

0

0

1.000

6-0

.424

AFC East Champ
Wins tie break over Cincinnati based on strength of schedule and victory.

2. Bengals

8

0

0

1.000

7-0

.394

AFC North Champ

3. Broncos

7

1

0

.875

4-1

.424

AFC West Champ

4. Colts

4

5

0

.444

4-3

.589

AFC South Champ

5.  Jets

5

3

0

.625

4-2

.455

--

6. Steelers

5

4

0

.556

2-4

.548

--

7. Bills

4

4

0

.500

4-3

.530

Wins tie break over Oakland based on strength of victory.

8. Raiders

4

4

0

.500

4-3

.508

--

9. Chiefs

3

5

0

.375

2-2

.594

Wins tie break over Miami based on best win percentage in conference games. Wins tie break over Houston based on head-to-head sweep.

10. Dolphins

3

5

0

.375

2-5

.484

Wins tie break over Houston based on head-to-head win percentage.

11. Texans

3

5

0

.375

2-3

.470

--

12. Jaguars

2

6

0

.250

2-4

.585

Wins tie break over Baltimore based on strength of victory. Wins tie break over San Diego based on best win percentage in conference games. Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Tennessee (Jacksonville wins tie break over Tennessee based on best win percentage in common games).
Wins tie break over Tennessee based on best win percentage in common games.

13. Ravens

2

6

0

.250

2-4

.552

Wins tie break over Tennessee and San Diego based on best win percentage in conference games.

14. Chargers

2

6

0

.250

1-4

.515

Wins tie break over Tennessee based on best win percentage in conference games.

15. Titans

2

6

0

.250

0-5

.426

--

16. Browns

2

7

0

.222

2-5

.556

--