by Scott Benson

There was a lot of movement in the AFC playoff picture yesterday, with the results of three intra-conference games shuffling the deck:

* Pittsburgh’s comeback over Cleveland vaulted the Steelers to 2nd seed in the conference;

* Indy’s folly in San Diego dropped the Colts to 3rd;

* The Chargers take control of the West (and the 4th seed) as the only team with a record better than .500;

* Jacksonville’s road win in Tennessee gave the Jags this week’s 5th seed by virtue of a better conference record than the;

* Titans, who fell to the 6th seed with their home loss. A win would have brought Tennessee into a virtual tie with Indianapolis for the division lead (though the Colts currently have the head-to-head advantage over the Titans with one game left between the teams).

Most importantly, the action brought the idle Patriots even closer to claiming the 1st seed in the 2007 AFC playoffs. They now have a two-game lead over the Steelers (with a head-to-head matchup still to come) and a three-game lead over the Colts (counting the H2H advantage gained with last week’s huge win in Indy) with seven games to play.

We’ll take a little closer look at how the playoff picture is shaping up later this week.

When was the last time Peyton Manning played that bad, by the way? Excepting the fourth quarter last week, of course. I have to admit, though, that I buy in a little to the “Peyton has no weapons!” angle. That was a pretty awful crew he had running with him last night, and yet, thanks to San Diego’s dreadful offense, the Colts nearly pulled it out of the fire. But Adam’s (Not) Money anymore, I guess.

One thing about San Diego – I don’t care how well that defense is playing, I don’t care what amazing tricks Antonio Cromartie has left in his bag, I don’t care even if Ladanian Tomlinson gets cranked up for the home stretch. They are not going anywhere with that quarterback. He is just awful, and you can count on him and him alone to ensure that the Chargers somehow underachieve.

The Pats’ next opponent, the Buffalo Bills, pulled out a comeback of their own in what had to amount to a trap game in Miami. Did the Bills look to next Sunday night too soon? They got away with it, and now they can turn their attention fully to entertaining the Patriots. Look for the overly-confident J.P. Losman to put his foot in his mouth this week, if he hasn’t already. The Pats might need to put up a bulletin board just for him.