Here's all you need to know about the AFC playoff race: The Pittsburgh Steelers, once 0-4, would be the AFC's sixth seed at 5-6 if the season ended at the conclusion of Sunday's early games.
The bottom half of the AFC hasn't shown a lot of desire to play in January. The failures continued on Sunday. The Dolphins had a chance to take a step forward, but gave up a late game-winning drive to the Panthers and lost. They are now 5-6. The Jets, the other 5-5 AFC team coming into Sunday, got nothing going in an ugly 19-3 loss at Baltimore. The Ravens are once again alive at 5-6.
The Steelers held the tiebreaker over the rest of the 5-6 teams as the early games ended Sunday (the Raiders and Titans, both 4-6, played each other in the late games Sunday). That means nothing with five weeks to go, but it shows the craziness of the AFC race.
The Steelers lost their first four games, and the 1992 Chargers are the only 0-4 team to make the playoffs in NFL history. Also, the 2010 Seahawks are the only one team in NFL history, not counting strike-shortened seasons, to make the playoffs with a losing record.
So the race for the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs might be ugly, but don't say it's not potentially historic.
The Steelers dealt a huge blow to the Browns by beating them 27-11. That knocked Cleveland to 4-7. That doesn't mean the Browns are out of the playoff race, because 8-8 might end up being good enough to make the playoffs in the AFC.
The way the race for the sixth seed is going, it might not even take an 8-8 record.
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