With Week 14 in the books, FOX Sports South fearlessly projects and seeds the six participants for the upcoming AFC playoffs. Even though winners in the AFC East, South and West seem locked in, there is still a lot of jockeying for position in the North, and for the two wildcard spots. In fact, one wildcart team dropped out from last week, replaced by a new contender.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsJake Roth
#1 Seed - New England Patriots
CURRENT RECORD: 10-3 … GAMES REMAINING: MIA, @NYJ, BUF … WHY THE PATRIOTS EARN THE #1 SEED: The Patriots spotted the Chargers a 14-3 lead on the road and then scored 20 unanswered points to close their Week 14 game out handily. The victory against a potential playoff team on the road shows that Tom Brady and his mates are beginning to put it together for the playoffs. All three of New England's losses have been on the road. But it this team continues as it has of late, it will have home games throughout the playoffs.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY SportRobert Hanashiro
#2 Seed - Denver Broncos
CURRENT RECORD: 10-3 … GAMES REMAINING: @SD, @CIN, OAK … WHY THE BRONCOS EARN THE #2 SEED: In Denver's first 10 games, the Broncos rushed on average 24.3 times per game. Over its last three games, Denver's upped the frequency in which it ran the ball. With 35 carries versus Miami, 45 against Kansas City and 29 in the Buffalo game, the Broncos have been rushing the football 36.3 times per game since they lost to St. Louis in Week 11. Curse this offensive shift toward the run fantasy GM's, but this balanced attack make Denver a better team on the real football field.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY SporIsaiah J. Downing
#3 Seed - Indianapolis Colts
CURRENT RECORD: 9-4 … GAMES REMAINING: HOU, @DAL, @TEN … WHY THE COLTS EARN THE #3 SEED: The Colts' one-point squeaker in Week 14 over the Browns wasn't pretty, but we did learn something about this team when Andrew Luck hit T.Y. Hilton with a game-winning touchdown pass with 32 seconds left to play. Even when things are going poorly, playoff teams find a way to win. That seems to be status quo for Indianapolis this season. All four of the Colts' losses have come against potential playoff teams, so they're winning when they should. But sooner or later, Luck's going to have to win a game he's not supposed to.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY SportsBrian Spurlock
#4 Seed - Baltimore Ravens
CURRENT RECORD: 8-5 … GAMES REMAINING: JAX, @HOU, CLE … WHY THE RAVENS EARN THE #4 SEED: When you're predicting games, there are bound to be a few missteps. While Baltimore was our No. 4 seed last week, we predicted a loss for them in Miami. The Ravens actually spanked the Dolphins on the road, and made their case for the AFC North title even stronger. Baltimore still has Cleveland at home in Week 17 to deal with, but games against Jacksonville and Houston prior to that don't worry us a bit.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
#5 Seed - Pittsburgh Steelers
CURRENT RECORD: 8-5 … GAMES REMAINING: @ATL, KC, CIN … WHY THE STEELERS EARN THE #5 SEED: The Steelers are a new entry into our field of playoff teams. Instead of landing in Cincinnati and faltering, Pittsburgh laid a woodshed beating on the Bengals. Because their conference record is better than our No. 6 seed, the Steelers take the top wildcard spot. The combination of Ben Roethlisberger (350 passing yards on Sunday) and Le'Veon Bell (185 yards on the ground) should strike fear into playoff opponents.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY SportsAaron Doster
#6 Seed - San Diego Chargers
CURRENT RECORD: 8-5 … GAMES REMAINING: DEN, @SF, @KC … WHY THE CHARGERS EARN THE #6 SEED: The Chargers were the only one of our six AFC playoff teams to lose in Week 14 and still make the list. The reason is simple addition by subtraction. We saw the New England loss coming, and expect San Diego to drop the Denver game in Week 15 too. But the 49ers, who just lost to the Raiders, are starting to look like train wreck, and we're confident San Diego's Week 16 visit to the Bay area will be a winning trip. As these predictions will be fluid for the next three weeks, things like this happen.