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AFC contenders enter hot playoff race

(Nov. 29, 2005) -- Seven AFC teams are 7-4 or better -- including the 11-0 Colts -- with five weeks remaining on the NFL schedule. Ten teams in the conference either reside in first place in their division or are within two games of first as the playoff picture continues to develop.

Among the clubs seeking to make up ground and improve their position in a competitive postseason field are the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4, .636). Winners of three of their past four games, the Chiefs have equaled their win total of a year ago and are charging hard in the AFC West. Every team remaining on Kansas City's schedule owns a record of 7-4 or better, giving them the toughest strength of schedule (.691) of the AFC contenders.

"The pressure is on us," Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil said. "And with our kind of players that we have here, the pressure is an advantage. It brings the best out of us. You can use it as an excuse, but our guys have bought into taking the pressure on and using it to motivate them to work harder, prepare harder and play harder."

Following is the remaining strength of schedule for the eight AFC teams that are above .500 with five games to go:

AFC EAST

TEAM NEW ENGLAND (6-5)
OPP. RECORD 19-36 (.345)
WEEK 13 N.Y. Jets (2-9)
WEEK 14 at Buffalo (4-7)
WEEK 15 Tampa Bay (7-4)
WEEK 16 at N.Y. Jets (2-9)
WEEK 17 Miami (4-7)

AFC NORTH

TEAM CINCINNATI (8-3) PITTSBURGH (7-4)
OPP. RECORD 26-29 (.473) 30-25 (.545)
WEEK 13 at Pittsburgh (7-4) Cincinnati (8-3)
WEEK 14 Cleveland (4-7) Chicago (8-3)
WEEK 15 at Detroit (4-7) at Minnesota (6-5)
WEEK 16 Buffalo (4-7) at Cleveland (4-7)
WEEK 17 at Kansas City (7-4) Detroit (4-7)

AFC SOUTH

TEAM INDIANAPOLIS (11-0) JACKSONVILLE (8-3)
OPP. RECORD 30-25 (.545) 21-34 (.382)
WEEK 13 Tennessee (3-8) at Cleveland (4-7)
WEEK 14 at Jacksonville (8-3) Indianapolis (11-0)
WEEK 15 San Diego (7-4) San Francisco (2-9)
WEEK 16 at Seattle (9-2) at Houston (1-10)
WEEK 17 Arizona (3-8) Tennessee (3-8)

AFC WEST

TEAM DENVER (9-2) SAN DIEGO (7-4) KANSAS CITY (7-4)
OPP. RECORD 25-30 (.455) 35-20 (.636) 38-17 (.691)
WEEK 13 at Kansas City (7-4) Oakland (4-7) Denver (9-2)
WEEK 14 Baltimore (3-8) Miami (4-7) at Dallas (7-4)
WEEK 15 at Buffalo (4-7) at Indianapolis (11-0) at N.Y. Giants (7-4)
WEEK 16 Oakland (4-7) at Kansas City (7-4) San Diego (7-4)
WEEK 17 at San Diego (7-4) Denver (9-2) Cincinnati (8-3)

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