The Packers clinched the NFC North title, and the Vikings locked themselves into the NFC’s No. 6 seed. That’s the upshot of the Packers’ 23-10 victory on Monday night, wrapping up a busy Week 16 of playoff consequences. They also included:
The Eagles moved into the driver’s seat in the NFC East;
The Ravens clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs;
The Titans took control of, but did not clinch, the No. 6 spot in the AFC.
Here is a look at the NFL playoff picture and standings after Week 16.
Note: X denotes a team that has clinched a playoff berth, Y shows a team that has clinched its division and Z indicates a team that has secured a first-round bye. An asterisk shows home-field advantage.
The Ravens clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with Sunday’s win over the Browns. They have now won 11 consecutive games and have a chance to rest and protect their key players in what will be a meaningless Week 17 game for them against the Steelers. Pittsburgh will still be in the playoff mix, which could impact how the Ravens deploy their personnel.
Next up: vs. Pittsburgh
The Patriots clinched the AFC East with Saturday’s victory over the Bills, their 17th division title in the past 19 seasons, but the relatively big question of whether they’ll skip the first round of the playoffs remains unanswered. They can clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a Week 17 victory over the Dolphins. A Chiefs loss will also clinch the No. 2 spot for the Patriots.
Next up: vs. Miami
The Chiefs cruised to an easy victory Sunday night in Chicago, and they could enter the playoffs seeded No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4. They can move up to No. 2 if they defeat the Chargers in Week 17 and the Patriots lose to the Dolphins. They would move down to No. 4 if they lose to the Chargers and the Texans beat the Titans. Otherwise, they’ll end up at No. 3.
Next up: vs. L.A. Chargers
For all the criticism they’ve received for recent trades and their use of quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans are AFC South champions for the fourth time in five seasons. The only question now is where they’ll be seeded in the AFC bracket. They can move up to No. 3 if they beat the Titans in Week 17 and the Chiefs lose to the Chargers, thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chiefs.
Next up: vs. Tennessee
The Bills clinched a playoff spot in Week 15 by defeating the Steelers, but Saturday’s loss to the Patriots ended their hopes of a division title. Instead, they are locked in as a (very dangerous) fifth seed in the AFC playoffs.
Next up: vs. N.Y. Jets
Despite their loss Sunday to the Saints, the Titans are in the driver’s seat for the final playoff spot in the AFC. They can clinch the spot with a Week 17 victory over the Texans, or losses by the Steelers and Colts. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) gives that a 56.9% chance of happening.
Next up: at Houston
Final AFC wild card chart from today. The Raiders are alive. pic.twitter.com/01LpKzEEC8
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) December 23, 2019
In the hunt
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7): After Sunday’s loss to the Jets, the Steelers need help to make the playoffs, which FPI gives a 29.9% chance of happening. In addition to defeating the Ravens, they’ll need the Titans to lose to the Texans. Another clinching scenario for the Steelers: a Titans loss, a win by the Colts and losses by the Bears, Lions, Chargers and Patriots.
Oakland Raiders (7-8): The Raiders need four Week 17 games to go their way in order to make the playoffs. They must beat the Broncos and then get wins by the Ravens, Texans and Colts. Then, they also need a victory by one of the following teams: Bears, Lions, Chiefs or Patriots. FPI gives it all a 13.2% chance of happening.
They had their hands full Saturday night, but the 49ers came back to beat the Rams and keep themselves in position to claim the NFC’s top seed if they can win in Seattle in Week 17. Otherwise, they will enter the playoffs as a wild-card team. Such is the strength of the NFC West this season: The 49ers will find out in Week 17 whether they’ll have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, or play on the road in the wild-card round.
Next up: at Seattle
The Packers clinched the NFC North title with Monday night’s victory over the Vikings. They can lock in a first-round bye by defeating the Lions in Week 17, or by a Saints loss. And they’re not out of the race for home-field advantage, either. In order to ascend to the No. 1 spot, they’ll need to defeat the Lions in Week 17 and then have the Seahawks defeat the 49ers on Sunday night. No matter where they end up, it will go down as a very successful regular season for new coach Matt LaFleur.
Next up: at Detroit
The Saints moved back to the third seed after the Packers’ victory on Monday night, as Green Bay holds the conference record tiebreaker. The Saints have a number of scenarios for getting back into position for a first-round playoff bye, however. They include the following in Week 17:
A win combined with a 49ers loss;
A win and a Packers loss;
Wins by the Packers and Seahawks.
Next up: at Carolina
Sunday’s massive victory over the Cowboys put the Eagles in the driver’s seat for the NFC East title. They can clinch it in Week 17 with a victory over the Giants or a loss by the Cowboys to the Redskins. The only way the Eagles would fall short of the division title, and miss the playoffs, is if they lost to the Giants and the Cowboys beat the Redskins.
Next up: at N.Y. Giants
The Seahawks’ unexpected loss Sunday to the Cardinals didn’t impact their path to a potential NFC West title, but it will make it harder for them to clinch home-field advantage. The Seahawks can still win the division if they defeat the 49ers at home in Week 17. But to be the No. 1 seed, the Seahawks have one scenario remaining: a win plus losses by the Saints and Packers in Week 17. FPI says there is a 13.5% chance of that happening.
Next up: vs. San Francisco
The Vikings’ home loss to the Packers locks them into the No. 6 seed. They’ll play at the No. 3 seed in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The last time the Vikings won a road playoff game was 2004.
Next up: vs. Chicago
In the hunt
Dallas Cowboys (7-8): After losing Sunday in Philadelphia, the Cowboys need to beat the Redskins and for the Giants to beat the Eagles in order to win the NFC East. Otherwise, they will miss the playoffs, a disappointing finish that FPI projects as a 73.8% likelihood.