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AFC playoff picture develops further this week

Nine teams in the AFC remain in playoff contention as three short weeks and a list of big games await to be played.

(Dec. 13, 2005) -- Nine teams in the AFC remain in playoff contention as three short weeks and a list of big games await to be played.

The Indianapolis Colts (13-0), who have scored in 31 consecutive quarters, continue to push their perfect record skyward and have clinched the AFC South title as well as the conference's No. 1 playoff seed.

The Denver Broncos (10-3), Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) and New England Patriots (8-5) all can earn division titles this weekend with victories. In nationally televised Saturday action this week, New England will play host to Tampa Bay at 1:30 p.m. ET (FOX) while Denver travels to Buffalo for an 8:30 kickoff (ESPN).

On Dec. 18, Cincinnati will venture to Detroit's Ford Field -- a place the Bengals hope to visit again Feb. 5 for Super Bowl XL.

Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh and San Diego stand in the thick of the AFC playoff chase.

"We live to fight another day," Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher said following his team's 21-9 victory against Chicago on Dec. 11 to boost the Steelers to 8-5. Pittsburgh aims to qualify for postseason play for the fourth time in the past five years.

"It's a one-game season every week for us," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said. "We've got to play like it's the playoffs, because we don't have a lot of room for error."

Following are the records of AFC playoff contenders, their remaining games and their victories and losses against other AFC playoff hopefuls (Indianapolis has clinched the top seed):

AFC EAST
TEAM/GAMES VS. CONTENDERSOVERALLDIV.CONF.WK. 15WK. 16WK. 17
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS8-54-06-4TBAt NYJMia
Wins: Pit, Mia ... ... Losses: SD, Den, Ind, KC
MIAMI DOLPHINS6-71-34-5NYJTennAt NE
Wins: Den, SD ... ... Losses: KC, NE
AFC NORTH
TEAM/GAMES VS. CONTENDERSOVERALLDIV.CONF.WK. 15WK. 16WK. 17
CINCINNATI BENGALS10-35-17-3AT DetBufAt KC
Wins: Pit ... ... Losses: Jac, Pit, Ind
PITTSBURGH STEELERS8-53-26-5At MinAt CleDet
Wins: SD, Cin ... ... Losses: NE, Jac, Ind, Cin
AFC SOUTH
TEAM/GAMES VS. CONTENDERSOVERALLDIV.CONF.WK. 15WK. 16WK. 17
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS *13-06-011-0SDAt SeaArz
Wins: Jac (2), NE, Cin, Pit
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS9-42-27-3SFAt HouTenn
Wins: Cin, Pit ... ... Losses: Ind (2), Den
AFC WEST
TEAM/GAMES VS. CONTENDERSOVERALLDIV.CONF.WK. 15WK. 16WK. 17
DENVER BRONCOS10-33-17-2At BufOakAt SD
Wins: SD, KC, Jac, NE ... ... Losses: Mia, KC
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS8-53-16-3At IndAt KCDen
Wins: NE, KC ... ... Losses: Den, Pit, Mia
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS8-53-27-3At NYGSDCin
Wins: Mia, NE, Den ... ... Losses: Den, SD

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