2021 NFL Playoff Picture: Ranking AFC teams vying for wild card spots as Ravens on outside looking in

The AFC continues to be one of the craziest conferences the NFL has ever seen. The conference has 13 teams that are .500 or better with three weeks remaining in the season — and 12 of them are separated by two games in the playoff race. 

The AFC wild card race is even more unpredictable with nine teams separated by one game from fifth to 13th in the standings, making the margin of error slim for every team going forward. No team is gaining separation in this conference, especially since the AFC doesn’t have a single postseason qualifier heading into Christmas. 

The division races are unpredictable and the wild card race is even crazier. As Week 16 kicked off Thursday night with the Titans’ 20-17 victory over the 49ers, it’s time to break down all the contenders for the three wild card spots — and which three non-division leaders have the best shot at reaching the postseason. 

Current AFC division leaders

The AFC division leaders as Week 15 had two thrillers. All currently have a playoff spot locked up if they claim the division crown. 

Chiefs (10-4) WestTitans (10-5) SouthPatriots (9-5) EastBengals (8-6) North

AFC wild card contenders, ranked

This is a ranking of the teams competing for a wild card spot in the AFC. Only three non-division winning teams make the playoffs, so the top three obviously have the best chance to make the postseason as we dive into Week 16. 

Remaining schedule: at Texans, vs. Broncos, at Raiders

Even with Thursday’s tough loss to the Chiefs, the Chargers are still in great shape to make the playoffs. With a 5-4 conference record and the Texans upcoming — the Chargers need to split with the Broncos or Raiders to get to 10 wins. There’s an excellent change Los Angeles gets to 11-6 and has this playoff spot locked up. The Chargers’ division title hopes may be dashed, but they should land a wild card spot — barring a major collapse. Los Angeles has a…

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