A team with 10 wins will miss the playoffs this season, and a team with a losing record will make the postseason.
When the NFL expanded the playoffs from six to seven teams per conference this season, the fear is that it would allow an inferior team to enter the playoffs.
That is far from the case in the AFC, which already has eight teams with double-digit wins, leaving a quality club out of the playoff chairs.
Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, Tennessee and Indianapolis enter Week 17 with records of 10-5 and are fighting for the three wild-card spots and the AFC South title between the Titans and the Colts.
Indianapolis is the only one of those teams that needs help, with the other four coming in with victories. The Colts need to beat the Jaguars and hope one of those other teams loses.
If everyone wins, Indianapolis will be only the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to miss the postseason after winning at least 11 games. New England (2008), Denver (1985) and the Baltimore Colts (11-1-2) fell short after winning 11 games.
The Colts had a particularly painful failure after starting the season 11-0-2. They then lost in Week 14 to the Rams 34-10 and lost the division race in the tiebreaker. With no wild cards at the time, the Colts missed the postseason despite being tied for the best record in the NFL.
If any of those teams lose and miss out on the playoffs, they would be the 13th team since the postseason expanded to 12 clubs in 1990 to miss the postseason despite winning 10 games, with the 2015 Jets being the last to do so.
It’s a different story in the NFC, where the East winner is assured of a losing record and the seventh seed could go 8-8 if Arizona and Chicago lose, giving the Bears the third wild card spot.
The only times there have been two playoff teams without winning records in the same season were in 1982 (Detroit and Cleveland at 4-5), 1999 (Detroit and Dallas at 8-8) and 2004 (Minnesota and the Rams at 8- 8).
The winner in the East will be the third team with a losing record to reach the postseason in a non-strike season with Washington or Dallas entering 7-9 or the Giants 6-10. Seattle won the NFC West in 2010 with a 7-9 record and Carolina won the NFC South with 7-8-1 in 2014. Both won their first playoff games.
The East winner will also be the first of 150 teams in the Super Bowl era to start a 2-7 season to reach the playoffs.
EARLY LEAVE: Washington cut ties with 2019 first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins before the end of his second season. Haskins is the sixth quarterback chosen in the first round of the draft since 2010 who does not reach the third year with the team that selected him.
Josh Rosen was traded to Arizona a year after being picked 10th overall in 2018, while Denver cut ties with Tim Tebow and Paxton Lynch after two seasons, and Cleveland did the same with Johnny Manziel and Brandon Weeden.
TIGHT MARKER: The Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champs, have won 10 games in a row, but lately the victories haven’t been easy. Kansas City’s 17-14 win over Atlanta was their seventh in a row by six fewer points. That’s the longest winning streak by six points or less in NFL history. The previous record was five, set by eventual Super Bowl champions the Giants in 1986 and the Colts in 1992 and 2008.