Week 17 NFL playoff picture: AFC says hello to Dolphins

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The Dolphins were 1-7 at one point this season, and the discussion surrounding the team had more to do with whether or not Brian Flores would return for a fourth season as their head coach, than anything else related to a playoff game.

However, that is a completely different discussion after Monday night’s 20-3 win over the Saints. The Dolphins are now in playoff position with two games to play, and winning both of those games would bring the team into the off-season for the first time since the 2016 season. None of these games will be easy, as neither the Titans nor the Patriots fit the profile of the teams the Dolphins have faced in their seven-game winning streak, but stacking so many wins together is never easy in the NFL and counts Dolphins out twice is probably not wise.

This week also brings us new leaders in AFC East and an AFC North with all four teams still alive despite three of them losing in Week 16. The full AFC playoff picture is posted below:

KLINCHEDE

1. Chefer (11-4) They have not sewn the No. 1 seed in the conference yet, but it is difficult to bet against the team that runs the eight-match winning streak.

IN THE HUNT

2. Titans (10-5) Completing the Dolphins’ winning streak this weekend will make them AFC South champions.

3. The Bengals (9-6) Hosting the Chiefs is not the most favorable of matchups for a team trying to close out a division title.

4. Bills (9-6) After an emotional victory over the Patriots, they should be on guard against any downturn when the Falcons come to town.

5. Høl (9-6) Winning shorthanded in Arizona is the latest sign that the Colts are going to be a tough game after the season.

Patriots (9-6) Facing the Jaguars gives them a chance to come right after back-to-back blows in the stomach.

7. Dolphins (8-7) The next two weeks give the Dolphins a chance to prove that their turnaround was more than just a product of the schedule.

8. Chargers (8-7) If they can not climb the ladder again, the stench from Sunday’s flop in Houston will continue for a long time.

9. Raiders (8-7) Two victories in a row have left the neon lights on in Vegas, but they will have to win in Indianapolis to create real faith that they can get a ticket to the dance.

10. Ravne (8-7) Although they should have some players left for this weekend, a visit from the Rams gives no respite when it comes to opposition.

11. Steelers (7-7-1) This weekend’s match against the Browns could be Ben Roethlisberger’s last stand.

12. Brown (7-8) Cleveland got the help they needed after losing on Saturday, and they need that to continue as they win both games back on their schedule.

13. Broncos (7-8) They stay mathematically alive, but the focus in Denver is on Vic Fangio’s future rather than the post-season.

ELIMINATED

14. Jets (4-11) Beating the Jaguars will not help their draft position, but doing so with an exhausted list while missing their head coach made sure of the rare happy day at MetLife Stadium.

15. Texas (4-11) They played spoiler against the Chargers and can also do so against the 49ers this weekend.

16. Jaguars (2-13) Back-to-back losses to the Jets and Texans leave no doubt as to where to find the bottom of the barrel in the AFC.

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