NFL playoff picture: Colts climbing in the AFC

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The NFL playoff picture got a little bit clearer in the AFC following Sunday's games, as the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have all positioned themselves well in the second tier of their respective conference. The Pittsburgh Steelers will attempt to join them with a win on Monday night.

The NFL playoff picture is typically pretty murky until the last week of the season for the last couple of spots, but there were some interesting developments made following Sunday afternoon's slate of games. First and foremost was the emergence of the Indianapolis Colts, but there's obviously a lot more to talk about with six playoff spots coming from the AFC.

The 8-1 Houston Texans, off a win on Sunday Night Football, and the 7-2 Baltimore Ravens certainly seem to be the cream of the crop in the AFC. The battle for positioning within the remaining four seeds should be most interesting to keep an eye on, though, barring any sort of collapse.

The Andrew Luck-led Colts, Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos and Tom Brady and his New England Patriots are all bunched up with 6-3 records following wins on Sunday -- putting them all squarely in position to control their own destiny over the final weeks of the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers could enter a four-way tie for third place in the AFC if they're able to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, as well.

Unfortunately for the remaining AFC teams, they'll need to right the ship in a hurry if they're still going to make the playoffs, considering the aforementioned six teams are the only six teams in the AFC that have won more games than they've lost thus far this season.

The San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals have the best playoff possibilities of those not currently projected into the field; however, as they all have identical 4-5 records, they hope one of the four teams bunched up in the current Wild Card picture falter soon.

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