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AFC playoff picture develops further this week

(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. CONTENDERS OVERALL DIV. CONF. WK. 15 WK. 16 WK. 17
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 8-5 4-0 6-4 TB At NYJ Mia
Wins: Pit, Mia ... ... Losses: SD, Den, Ind, KC
MIAMI DOLPHINS 6-7 1-3 4-5 NYJ Tenn At NE
Wins: Den, SD ... ... Losses: KC, NE
AFC NORTH
TEAM/GAMES VS. CONTENDERS OVERALL DIV. CONF. WK. 15 WK. 16 WK. 17
CINCINNATI BENGALS 10-3 5-1 7-3 AT Det Buf At KC
Wins: Pit ... ... Losses: Jac, Pit, Ind
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 8-5 3-2 6-5 At Min At Cle Det
Wins: SD, Cin ... ... Losses: NE, Jac, Ind, Cin
AFC SOUTH
TEAM/GAMES VS. CONTENDERS OVERALL DIV. CONF. WK. 15 WK. 16 WK. 17
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS * 13-0 6-0 11-0 SD At Sea Arz
Wins: Jac (2), NE, Cin, Pit
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 9-4 2-2 7-3 SF At Hou Tenn
Wins: Cin, Pit ... ... Losses: Ind (2), Den
AFC WEST
TEAM/GAMES VS. CONTENDERS OVERALL DIV. CONF. WK. 15 WK. 16 WK. 17
DENVER BRONCOS 10-3 3-1 7-2 At Buf Oak At SD
Wins: SD, KC, Jac, NE ... ... Losses: Mia, KC
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 8-5 3-1 6-3 At Ind At KC Den
Wins: NE, KC ... ... Losses: Den, Pit, Mia
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 8-5 3-2 7-3 At NYG SD Cin
Wins: Mia, NE, Den ... ... Losses: Den, SD

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