It was hard to imagine heading into the season and even harder still about six weeks in, but the Patriots woke up this morning at the top of the heap in the AFC standings.
That fact was made possible by New England's spirited 14-10 victory at Buffalo Monday night, which not only solidified its spot in the division but also allowed the team to leapfrog Baltimore into the No. 1 seed. The Ravens fell on the road in Pittsburgh, 20-19, when tight end Mark Andrews dropped a would-be two-point conversion that would have given Baltimore the win. Instead, the 8-4 Ravens dropped into a tie with fellow division leaders Tennessee and Kansas City in the jumbled conference standings.
The Chiefs remained on top in the West thanks to a methodical 22-9 win over Denver on Sunday night football while the Titans enjoyed a much-needed bye week as they try to get some healthy bodies back in time for the stretch drive. Based on tiebreakers, the Titans, Ravens and Chiefs would be seeded 2, 3 and 4, respectively, based on conference records.
There was also some movement among the seeding for the wild cards, although no teams moved into or out of the postseason landscape in Week 13. The Bills (7-5) loss dropped them to the seventh spot while the L.A. Chargers and Bengals, both 7-5, switched positions in the aftermath of the Chargers win in Cincinnati on Sunday.
Here's a look at the current standings in the AFC:
|4. Kansas City||8-4||3-4|
|5. L.A. Chargers||7-5||5-3|
The Patriots currently would receive the lone bye in the AFC but they also have played one additional game than the rest. Based on New England's strong conference record, even if the three other division leaders win in Week 14, the Patriots would retain the top seed. And while the Patriots control their destiny (win and earn the top seed), Buffalo is in the same position with regard to the division. If the Bills win out, they would take the top spot based on the division tiebreaker. A long way to go, but after sitting at 2-4 few would have predicted a seven-game winning streak propelling the Patriots to the top.