Are AFC playoffs a given at 8-5?

Updated: December 11, 2002, 1:39 PM ET
By by Sam Lubeck, STATS. Inc.
Around the nation these days, school children are heading to the front of their classrooms nervously, as they share current events with 50 eyes glazed upon them. In order to repress some of the butterflies, students choose things that interest them. Well, on this fine December morning, little Joey Pigskin walks to the front of his fourth-grade class, and raises awareness on an issue that captures the attention of every single sports fan -- the AFC playoff picture. As Joey annunciates Colts and Broncos, his pictures of horses can be outdone only by his next picture of Dolphins. Over the next 45 minutes, Joey shares every single possibility of who will make the playoffs in the AFC.

With three weeks left in the regular season, no fewer than 11 teams in the AFC are 7-6 or better, and six teams are 8-5 or better. In terms of playing in January, things certainly look good for the conference's only 9-4 club, the Oakland Raiders. But are the playoffs already a reality for the Dolphins, Patriots, Titans, Colts, and Chargers, who each sit at 8-5?

For some precedence, we looked at playoff chases since 1978 -- the first season that multiple wildcard teams made the postseason. As we present teams' records through 13 games of the regular season, we'll graciously leave out the strike-induced nine-game season of 1982.

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