Explaining (or trying to) AFC standings

Munch on a few Tylenols and peruse this breakdown, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, to see how the AFC East's three postseason hopefuls are positioned through Week 15.

  • The New York Jets cannot win the AFC East. They would lose the division record tiebreaker in two-way tie with Patriots, or would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker in a three-way with New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. The Jets are 1-3 against those teams.

  • If the Dolphins finish in a two-way or three-way tie with the Patriots at 9-7, then the Dolphins would win the division -- either by conference record if it's a two-way tie, or by head-to-head record if it's a three-way tie with the Jets and Patriots.

Now plop a couple of Alka-Seltzers and try to fight through this dissection of the how the six 7-7 teams factor into the playoff race.

Here is the reasoning to why they're sorted out the way they are (Jacksonville Jaguars, Dolphins, Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans):

  • Break all the division ties first and that leaves Jacksonville (better divisional record than Houston and Tennessee), Miami (swept New York) and Pittsburgh. Those three teams would go to conference record, and Jacksonville holds the edge at 6-4.

  • Start over. Miami, Pittsburgh and Tennessee (better divisional record than Houston) go to conference record, and Miami at 5-5 lines up behind Jacksonville.

  • Start over. New York, Pittsburgh and Tennessee go to conference record. New York at 5-5 is slotted ninth.

  • Start over. Pittsburgh beat Tennessee played in Week 1 and gets the 10th seed for now.

  • Tennessee is ahead of Houston on divisional record for the 11th seed, leaving Houston 12th.