NFL: AFC News and Notes

AFC Playoff Picture Taking Shape

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The countdown begins as the NFL calendar turns to December.

Among the teams seeking to strengthen their position in a tight AFC playoff race are the New York Jets (9-2), who are tied for the NFL's best record with the New England Patriots (9-2) and Atlanta Falcons (9-2). The Jets, who have the toughest remaining schedule of the contenders, facing teams with a combined 33-22 (.600) record, are preparing this week for an AFC East showdown against the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Jets head coach REX RYAN, who led his team to the AFC Championship Game a year ago, is cognizant of what awaits.

"Everything we do is about winning in December and January," says Ryan. "That's where we've got to be at our best. I have all the confidence in the world that we can do exactly that. We push our guys in the weight room. That's so we can be stronger in December and January. We actually make some gains in the season. It's not just about staying where we are. We actually try to make gains. We think that's an advantage to our football team later in the year."

Following is the remaining strength of schedule for the 12 AFC teams within one game of .500 or better :

AFC EAST

TEAM

NY JETS (9-2)

NEW ENGLAND (9-2)

MIAMI (6-5)

OPP. RECORD

33-22 (.600)

32-23 (.582)

26-29 (.473)

WEEK 13

at New England (9-2)

NY Jets (9-2)

Cleveland (4-7)

WEEK 14

Miami (6-5)

at Chicago (8-3)

at NY Jets (9-2)

WEEK 15

at Pittsburgh (8-3)

Green Bay (7-4)

Buffalo (2-9)

WEEK 16

at Chicago (8-3)

at Buffalo (2-9)

Detroit (2-9)

WEEK 17

Buffalo (2-9)

Miami (6-5)

at New England (9-2)

AFC NORTH

TEAM

BALTIMORE (8-3)

PITTSBURGH (8-3)

OPP. RECORD

27-28 (.491)

24-31 (.436)

WEEK 13

Pittsburgh (8-3)

at Baltimore (8-3)

WEEK 14

at Houston (5-6)

Cincinnati (2-9)

WEEK 15

New Orleans (8-3)

NY Jets (9-2)

WEEK 16

at Cleveland (4-7)

Carolina (1-10)

WEEK 17

Cincinnati (2-9)

at Cleveland (4-7)

AFC SOUTH

TEAM

JACKSONVILLE (6-5)

INDIANAPOLIS (6-5)

HOUSTON (5-6)

TENNESSEE (5-6)

OPP. RECORD

26-29 (.473)

24-31 (.436)

29-26 (.527)

30-25 (.545)

WEEK 13

at Tennessee (5-6)

Dallas (3-8)

at Philadelphia (7-4)

Jacksonville (6-5)

WEEK 14

Oakland (5-6)

at Tennessee (5-6)

Baltimore (8-3)

Indianapolis (6-5)

WEEK 15

at Indianapolis (6-5)

Jacksonville (6-5)

at Tennessee (5-6)

Houston (5-6)

WEEK 16

Washington (5-6)

at Oakland (5-6)

at Denver (3-8)

at Kansas City (7-4)

WEEK 17

at Houston (5-6)

Tennessee (5-6)

Jacksonville (6-5)

at Indianapolis (6-5)

AFC WEST

TEAM

KANSAS CITY (7-4)

SAN DIEGO (6-5)

OAKLAND (5-6)

OPP. RECORD

24-31 (.436)

21-34 (.382)

28-27 (.509)

WEEK 13

Denver (3-8)

Oakland (5-6)

at San Diego (6-5)

WEEK 14

at San Diego (6-5)

Kansas City (7-4)

at Jacksonville (6-5)

WEEK 15

at St. Louis (5-6)

San Francisco (4-7)

Denver (3-8)

WEEK 16

Tennessee (5-6)

at Cincinnati (2-9)

Indianapolis (6-5)

WEEK 17

Oakland (5-6)

at Denver (3-8)

at Kansas City (7-4)

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