Here’s an up-to-date look at the AFC and NFC playoff pictures as Week 16 action continues.

By Chris Burke
December 27, 2015

Here’s an up-to-date look at the AFC and NFC playoff pictures as Week 16 action continues (a primer on tiebreaking procedures can be found here):

The picture sorted itself out a bit on Sunday, though there still could be a wide range of outcomes in Week 17.

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The Chiefs are in, having clinched a spot this week by virtue of their win over Cleveland and the Steelers’ stunning loss in Baltimore. They would take the AFC West with a win in Week 17 over Oakland and a Broncos loss to the Chargers. Denver is also now officially in, having secured its playoff spot with a comeback win over the Bengals on Monday night.

The Steelers and the Jets are the only remaining options for the final remaining AFC wild-card spot. Pittsburgh is on the outside looking in at the moment as the AFC’s lone 9–6 team. In order for the Steelers to get in, they must win in Cleveland next week and the Jets must lose to Buffalo. 

Houston maintained its grip on the AFC South, despite Indianapolis’s dramatic win in Miami. Beat the Jaguars in Week 17 and the Texans clinch their division. The Texans also hold a tiebreaker edge (strength of victory), so even a Colts win next week likely won't flip the standings.

Speaking of Miami, only the Dolphins stand in the way of a banged-up Patriots squad and the AFC’s No. 1 seed. If New England beats the Dolphins next week, it clinches home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. A New England loss would open the door for the Broncos to swipe the top seed.

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The Panthers’ undefeated season is gone, and now they have to worry about wrapping up the NFC’s top spot. A win over Tampa Bay in Week 17 would do it, as would an Arizona loss to Seattle.

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Washington is locked in as the No. 4 seed after clinching the NFC East on Saturday night. The Redskins visit Dallas next week, but that game holds absolutely no bearing over the playoff picture.

The Falcons stayed alive, briefly, by beating Carolina but their slim chance vanished when Minnesota won Sunday night. As part of their reward for routing the Giants, the Vikings will be handed another Sunday nighter next week—a winner-takes-all clash with Green Bay, at Lambeau Field. The winner of that game will be the NFC's No. 3 seed; the loser will have to settle for a wild-card spot. Washington still could play any of Green Bay, Minnesota or Seattle in the playoff's opening round, depending on how Week 17 unfolds.

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