The 2021 NFL season heads into its 12th week and this is a good time to take a look at the playoff picture and standings. We start this two-part coverage with the AFC. 

AFC Playoff Picture

1. Tennessee Titans (8-3)

The Titans won seven of their first nine games despite facing the NFL’s most difficult schedule. They then embarked on an easier schedule, only to suffer a disappointing home loss in week 11 to the Texans. The defeat allowed the Colts to close the gap in the AFC South.

The Titans lead is now down to two games with six to play. Regardless of whether the Colts can catch them, it’s difficult to view the Titans as the clear-cut AFC favorites. Two of their losses have come to the Texans and Jets who have a combined record of 4-16. Up next for them are the Patriots, arguably the hottest team in the league.

2. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

Despite being without injured quarterback Lamar Jackson last week, the Ravens kept the momentum. They held on to first place in the AFC North. They haven’t been in good form over the past month but they’ve managed to grind out victories in the toughest games. Up next for the Ravens is a matchup against the Cleveland Browns. 

3. Buffalo Bills (7-4)

After a convincing win on Thursday night in the Superdome, the question remains. Will that be enough to pull the Bills out of a slump? They entered week 12 having lost two of their past three games. Losses that include the inexplicable defeat to the Jaguars.

Hopefully, this win gives them the much-needed boost. They head into the most difficult stretch of their schedule. They face the red-hot Patriots twice in four weeks, with a game at the Buccaneers in between. Up next for the Bills, a matchup against the Patriots in week 13. 

4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

The Chiefs are rolling off their fourth consecutive victory, a streak that has brought them from below .500 to atop the AFC West. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that the Chiefs will be among the seven teams representing the AFC in the playoffs, and more likely than not, they will be the AFC West champion.

Next up: vs. Broncos (Week 13)

5. New England Patriots (7-4)

The Patriots recovered brilliantly from their 1-3 start to the season. They will reclaim the top spot from the Bills if they beat the Titans on Sunday. Five consecutive wins and six in their last seven puts them within reach of the top seed in the AFC. The Patriots have a home game against the Titans this week. After that, they play the Bills twice in a three-game stretch next month. At this point in time, they look like the best team in the AFC. 

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