AFC Playoff Picture Week 16: Seeding, Scenarios & Tiebreakers

afc, nfc, nfl, playoff, picture, standings, seeds, scenarios, tiebreakers, chiefs, steelers, jets, texans

Alex Smith and the Chiefs haven’t lost a game since early November. (Getty)

Several games in Week 16 can help determine playoff seeding, with the big one occurring at Met Life Stadium. The Jets-Patriots showdown can determine both ends of the AFC standings today, as the Patriots can clinch home-field advantage while knocking the Jets out of the Wild Card race.

The Jets are 9-5, and on the wrong end of a three-way tie for the final playoff spots. They share that record with Kansas City and Pittsburgh, two of the NFL’s hottest teams. The pair are a combined 11-1 over the last six weeks, and both have relatively easy schedule in the final two weeks.

To catch the Chiefs, the Jets would need to win one of their conference games, and the Chiefs would need to lose one of their two opponents who a combined record of 10-19. Any tie would go to in-conference record, Where the Chiefs hold a two-game lead over both the Jets and Steelers. The next tiebreaker used is record based on common games, where the Jets trail the Steelers. Even if both teams lose, New York faces two tough AFC East games to close out the schedule.

After 16 weeks, it looks like the AFC South is finally ready to declare a champion. The Houston Texans have a solid lead and tiebreakers, but are starting Brandon Weeden today at quarterback against Tennessee. Because of injuries, Weeden is the sixth different starting QB Bill O’Brien has used in two seasons. Even if the Colts beat Miami and keep pace, a tiebreaker called ‘strength of victory’ will still see the Texans into the playoffs. Strength of victory concerns the records of opponents you’ve beaten this season. The Texans have notched wins over Cincinnati and New York this year, putting them in line to clinch the division.

Here are the full standings and clinch scenarios:

AFC Seeding

afc, nfc, nfl, playoff, picture, standings, seeds, scenarios, tiebreakers, chiefs, steelers, jets, texans

The Steelers have scored at least 30 points in six straight games. (Getty)

The Division Leaders:

1. New England Patriots — 12-3 — Clinched AFC East
2. Cincinnati Bengals — 11-3
3. Denver Broncos — 10-4
4. Houston Texans — 8-7

The Wild Card Contenders:

5. Kansas City Chiefs — 10-5 — Clinched playoff berth
6. New York Jets — 10-5
7. Pittsburgh Steelers — 9-6

*Kansas City is ahead of the New York and Pittsburgh based on conference record (Chiefs: 8-2 Jets:6-4 Steelers: 6-4)

*Pittsburgh has tiebreaker over New York based on common games record (3-1 to New York’s 2-2).

Clinching Scenarios:

– New England clinches home field advantage with win OR tie and Cincinnati loss

– Cincinnati clinches AFC North with win OR Pittsburgh loss

– Cincinnati clinches first round bye with win

– Denver clinches AFC West with win and Kansas City loss

– Denver clinches playoff spot with win and New York loss OR Pittsburgh loss

– Kansas City clinches playoff spot with win and New York loss OR Pittsburgh loss

– Houston clinches AFC South with win and Colts loss

Potential Wild Card Matchups:

Jets at Broncos

Chiefs at Texans



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