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2024 NFL Playoffs: What to Watch for in the AFC bracket

Eighteen weeks of hard-nosed, smash-mouth football have come down to the next five weeks in the 2023 NFL Playoffs. Fourteen teams enter, and one will take home the Lombardi Trophy in Las Vegas on February 11th. Let's start with what to watch for in the AFC. There have been many surprises this season, starting with...

(4) Houston Texans vs. (5) Cleveland Browns

The Browns have made Cleveland rock all season long, and for just the second time in the past two decades, the Browns have reached the NFL Playoffs. Now, these two teams met back in Week 16, yet the takeaways from the 36-22 Browns victory are few and far between, as Texans' rookie QB CJ Stroud was not in the lineup.

This time around, Stroud will be under center and will face one of his toughest tests against a Browns defense that ranked first in the league in 1st down percentage at 25.4%, posted the third-best interception ranking with 18 picks, and was sixth in the league in sacks with 49. Stroud may be Rookie of the Year material, but this test against the Browns' defense may prove too daunting.

(3) Kansas City Chiefs vs. (6) Miami Dolphins

The second half of Saturday's doubleheader takes us to Kansas City for a marquee matchup featuring two-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes leading the Chiefs into battle against Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins. Tua is now in his second go in the NFL Playoffs as he attempts to avenge a crushing 34-31 defeat at the hands of Josh Allen's Bills in the Wild Card round last season.

To do so, he must find a way to lead his Dolphins past a guy who knows about dealing with adversity in Patrick Mahomes and a very hostile Chiefs Kingdom at Arrowhead. These are two of the top QBs in the game, leading their teams to the playoffs behind a pair of high-powered offenses. Expect a shootout that will go right down to the last series.

(2) Buffalo Bills vs. (7) Pittsburgh Steelers

There's only one game on the Sunday slate for the AFC: Josh Allen's Bills facing off against the Steelers in Buffalo. While the Steelers took the last NFL Playoff spot in the AFC by the skin of their teeth, the Bills took home the AFC East crown on the previous week of the regular season behind the play of Josh Allen.

Allen has played the Steelers four times in his young career and has only lost once. This season, the Bills are 7-1 at Highmark Stadium. The forecast for Buffalo on Sunday afternoon looks to play into Buffalo's hands - sub-freezing temps with possible snow. Advantage: Bills.