NFL Playoff Picture: Patriots, Jets, Steelers And Ravens Separate Themselves In AFC

The NFL focused this year on putting more divisional games late in the season to spice things up and potentially prevent situations like we saw with the Indianapolis Colts last year where they can rest their starters in Week 16 and 17. That' resulted in lots of late-season division games and, for the fans, likely more exciting finishes.

With four games to play, we're starting to see four of these teams separate themselves from everyone else. The Patriots, Jets, Steelers and Ravens seem a step above everyone else. It's looking like we'll see both wildcards come out of those divisions.

Here's a look and a prediction on the AFC playoff picture:

AFC East: The Pariots and Jets are both at 9-2 and they'll both more than likely make the playoffs -- one as the division winner and one as the wildcard. They currently hold the two best records in the NFL (outside of Atlanta) so there's no reason to think they both won't get it. The Dolphins are two games behind the Ravens for the wildcard.

Prediction: Patriots win division, Jets are a wildcard

AFC North: The Steelers and Ravens met on Sunday Night Football in a game that saw Pittsburgh win giving them a 9-3 record over the 8-4 Ravens. The Steelers are now favored to win the division and the Ravens have a two-game lead over all the wildcards. Looking at the rest of the wildcard-possible teams, it's hard to envision a scenario that doesn't have both the Steelers and Ravens in the playoffs.

Prediction: Steelers win division, Ravens are a wildcard

AFC South: Surprisingly, this is still very much a contest and, even more shockingly, the Colts may not be favored to win. The Jaguars stand at 7-5, a full game ahead of the Colts at 6-6. There likely won't be a wildcard from the South so one of these teams will have to win this division. The Colts probably need to run the table -- and that includes a Dec. 19 matchup with the Jaguars.

Prediction: Colts win the division, no wildcards

AFC West: Seven of the eight divisions in the NFL have a team within at least one game of the division lead. The one division that doesn't is the AFC West and the KC Chiefs, who now hold a two-game lead over everyone in the division. Both the Chargers and Raiders play the Chiefs in the final four games so they'll need to win those games and get some help if they're thinking playoffs.

Prediction: Chiefs win the division, no wildcards

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