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Who's safe? Who's out? AFC coaches on hot seat

By the time Sunday's slate of games concludes, the fates of 32 teams will be sealed. Twelve teams will go to the playoffs; 20 teams will begin plotting their futures; and plenty of coaching staffs will undergo changes.

Here is a snapshot look at what changes might be coming in 2018 for eight AFC franchises:

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis' contract has run out, and he's officially out of work after Sunday. The plan is to sit down with owner Mike Brown on Monday and figure out his future. The expectation is that the two parties, who have a strong relationship, will mutually decide that Lewis will no longer be the Bengals coach after 15 seasons. There is a reasonable chance he stays in Cincinnati as a front office presence, and there is also a chance Lewis heads to the league office. He could also be considered a head-coaching candidate during a year when the coaching pool is not especially strong. Among the possible names to replace him would be two in-house candidates: special teams coach Darrin Simmons and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.

Cleveland Browns: Owner Jimmy Haslam announced several times that Hue Jackson would be back in 2018. He was definitive. And yet it seems no one believes him. General manager John Dorsey has told people close to him as well that the plan is to keep Jackson, and that is how they'll proceed. Look for Jackson to hire an offensive coordinator, which is his top priority in regard to staffing changes.

Tennessee Titans: For the first time in years and years, the Titans have a chance to win a home game to make the playoffs. That is their sole focus heading into Sunday. If they lose -- or perhaps even if they go one-and-done in the playoffs -- coach Mike Mularkey is in danger of losing his job. Sources say there has been serious frustration about the development of quarterback Marcus Mariota, and hiring a quarterback guru as a head coach (Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be a possibility) could be the play here.

Houston Texans: Owner Bob McNair has a decision to make. Coach Bill O'Brien has made it clear he wants to return and won't quit on this team. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has voiced his views on O'Brien, too. That team is attempting to keep O'Brien in Houston. But there is a clear disconnect between O'Brien, who is under contract for one more season, and general manager Rick Smith. One way to remedy that is an option sources say McNair is considering: Elevating Smith's position out of the football operation and giving O'Brien more say in personnel decisions. That could mean a promotion for assistant GM Jimmy Raye III or the hiring of a new personnel chief.

Indianapolis Colts: Coach Chuck Pagano is expected to coach his last game on Sunday. Sources say Indianapolis will be looking for a new coach, which will be general manager Chris Ballard's first hire. Owner Jim Irsay has already made calls to prepare. The opportunity to coach Andrew Luck is sure to draw top candidates, even if the quarterback's health is still a little bit of a question mark. Based on Ballard's background and Luck's status, some names to watch are McDaniels, Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub and Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.

Los Angeles Chargers: Coach Anthony Lynn has impressed in his first year, taking an 0-4 start and turning it into a playoff push, but he may be fighting for his coordinators. Both defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt are out of their contracts at season's end, and both will be coveted, sources say.

Oakland Raiders: Jack Del Rio got an extension this past offseason and it would be a surprise if he's in trouble -- especially after last season's dramatic turnaround. Unless Jon Gruden plans to leave ESPN and work for owner Mark Davis -- a growing possibility -- Del Rio should be safe. It's been eerily quiet in Oakland, as Davis shared his plans with few, but some changes are coming. The focus has been on offensive coordinator Todd Downing, and perhaps a change will be made. Downing does have a close relationship with quarterback Derek Carr, which may affect things.

Denver Broncos: General manager John Elway hired a young coach with room to grow, and their first season together hasn't all been smooth sailing. There has been no definitive call from high up to move on from first-year coach Vance Joseph, but Elway is always a wild card. Joseph does seem to be in good standing for a second season, sources say, but until there is a final word, no one is assuming anything. Elway understands that, with an aging roster and no answer at quarterback, the Broncos' struggles were not all at the feet of Joseph. Having the team rebound for two straight wins late helped his cause. There should be some changes on the coaching staff, however, with special teams coach Brock Olivo being one of those at risk.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet

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