The teams that will contest the AFC playoffs this season are known. However, heading into Week 17 there is still a question of where the seeds will fall. One team with an uncertain seeding at this point is New England. The Patriots could be the first seed or the second seed, a matter that is between them and the Oakland Raiders.

New England probable No. 1

However, New England look very strong for the top seed precisely because the Raiders lost Derek Carr to injury in Week 16. That puts a major damper on their hopes for finishing first as they may very well lose to the Denver Broncos to finish their regular season.

Furthermore, not only do Oakland need a win for the top seed but the Patriots would have to lose to Miami in Week 16 and that's an improbable scenario as well. But even if New England fall down to No. 2 it might not matter that much. If Oakland suffer a defeat in the divisional round as a possible No. 1 seed then the No. 2 Pats would have home-field advantage in the conference finals all the same.

The betting odds certainly reflect a strong position for the Patriots. For instance bet365 make New England -137 favorites to win the AFC playoffs against the field. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who will be the No. 3 seed, are the second favorites at +333 with KC, Oakland, Houston, and Miami coming in next.

KC are an interesting team to watch precisely because they might highjack the No. 2 seed in the final week of the season. That could set up a showdown between NE and KC in the conference final, a game that might be better off enjoyed than predicted.

Patriots have to be happy

However, at present the Patriots have to like the situation that they are in.

They will avoid Wild Card Weekend, a two seed at worst doesn't hurt them much in my view, and if they do finish as the top seed then they will avoid playing Pittsburgh until the conference final. Avoiding the Steelers early is a big deal as Pitt are a strong team with their offense. They showed that on Sunday when they bore down in the crunch to score three touchdowns that eliminated the Baltimore Ravens from contention.

The way I'm looking at it, KC is the major question mark right now. If they get into the two seed then they emerge as the second favorite in the conference with Pitt going down to third favorite. That's not too unlikely of a situation given the Carr injury and given KC have an easy one next week against San Diego.

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