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NFL playoff picture: What does Patriots-Colts mean for AFC standings

The Patriots face the Colts in Indianapolis on Saturday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of Lucas Oil Stadium is seen in game action during a NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals on October 18, 2020, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Results: The Colts beat the Patriots 27-17. Indy improved to 8-6 and is currently in fifth place in the AFC standings. New England dropped to 9-5 and is in third place in the AFC standings.

The NFL is bringing back Saturday football now that the college football regular season is a wrap. We open the slate in Week 15 with a pair of critical matchups. The Raiders and Browns open the day at 4:30 p.m. ET and the Patriots and Colts close it at 8:15 p.m. Both games are on NFL Network.

Patriots playoff picture

Current AFC standing

The Patriots are the hottest team in the NFL with seven straight wins under their belt. They are 9-4 and in second place in the AFC East. The Bills are two games back in second with a 7-6 record. They are tied with the Titans for the second best record in the conference, both a half game back of the Chiefs after KC won on Thursday. They hold the tiebreaker edge over both teams due to conference record. New England is 7-1 against AFC opponents, Tennessee is 6-3 and Kansas City is 5-4.

Clinching scenarios

The Patriots can clinch a wild card berth with a win, a Dolphins loss or tie, and some additional help. That can include one of the following four scenarios:

  • Browns loss and Ravens loss
  • Browns loss, Broncos loss/tie, Steelers loss/tie
  • Browns-Raiders tie, Broncos loss, Ravens loss
  • Broncos-Bengals tie, Ravens loss

Relevant Week 15 AFC schedule

#3 Chiefs 34, @ #5 Chargers 28 (TNF final score)
Panthers (5-8) @ #7 Bills (7-6)
#2 Titans (9-4) @ #11 Steelers (6-6-1)
Packers (10-3) @ #4 Ravens (8-5)

Colts playoff picture

Current AFC standing

The Colts aren’t as hot as the Patriots, but they’re getting some key wins. They’ve won four of five games to improve to 7-6. They are coming off a bye in Week 14, during which the Titans moved a step closer to the division title. Tennessee won to improve to 9-4 and swept the season series with Indianapolis to secure the tiebreaker.

However, the Colts actually moved up in the playoff standings in spite of not playing. Losses by Buffalo and Cincinnati moved the Colts up into sixth place and the second wild card berth. They are tied with four other teams and a half game back of the fifth place Chargers.

Relevant Week 15 AFC schedule

#3 Chiefs 34, @ #5 Chargers 28 (TNF final score)
Panthers (5-8) @ #7 Bills (7-6)
Jets (3-10) @ #13 Dolphins (6-7)
#2 Titans (9-4) @ #11 Steelers (6-6-1)
#9 Bengals (7-6) @ #10 Broncos (7-6)