While the 2021 NFL playoffs are fast approaching, AFC teams are still jockeying for position.
13 out of the 16 teams still have a realistic chance of making the postseason either as a division champion or a Wild Card.
Only three games separate first from 13th place, indicating that every game matters.
Teams cannot afford to lose because they might drop out of playoff contention.
That said, here are two AFC teams that might not make it beyond the regular season even if they still have a fighting chance as of Week 13.
The quality of their remaining opposition and tiebreakers lost might spell their doom in entering the playoffs.
2. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are lucky to still be in the thick of things despite losing six of their last nine games.
Their rivals in the AFC West underwent slumps that kept them in the division race.
However, they are in a nice groove as of late because three of their last five games are wins.
But they only scored nine points against the Kansas City Chiefs last week.
There’s no such thing as a perfect roster in the NFL, but the players projected to be on the 2022 Broncos plus an elite QB?
— Sayre Bedinger (@SayreBedinger) December 8, 2021
They get an easier opponent in the Detroit Lions in Week 14, but that game isn’t a guaranteed win after the Lions ended their 15-game winless streak.
Because Denver can defeat Detroit, their schedule doesn’t get easier because they will face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15.
Then, they will close the regular season against their division rivals.
They get the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16, the Los Angeles Chargers a week later, and the Chiefs again to close the season.
Two of those final three games are on the road.
The Denver Broncos be like: pic.twitter.com/pfFNLuBLee
— Matt C (@MattfromKC) December 5, 2021
They will host the Chiefs in Week 18, but that doesn’t guarantee them a victory because Patrick Mahomes hasn’t lost to the Broncos throughout his career.
The Broncos might end up losing four of their last five games, eliminating them from playoff contention.
1. Cleveland Browns
Injuries and off-field drama derailed the Cleveland Browns’ follow-up to their postseason appearance last year.
The wide receiver finally got out of Cleveland, but it did not solve the Browns’ problems.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) December 8, 2021
They’ve alternated wins and losses since their 3-2 record, and it didn’t help either that Mayfield played through injuries.
But as the season progressed and Mayfield started to heal, criticisms about him not being the long-term solution at quarterback grew louder.
Doubts about his ability won’t help his mental fortitude as they embark on one of the toughest stretches throughout their season.
Their last five games are all against teams still in the playoff hunt.
— The Doge Pound Browns (@DogeBrowns) December 8, 2021
They will face the Baltimore Ravens again after their bye week and the Raiders in Week 15.
Next on their schedule are road games against the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Finally, they close the regular season versus the Bengals, which handed them a humiliating 41-16 defeat in Week 9.
If their woes on offense continue, the Browns may lose all their remaining games.