The final stretch and key push for the NFL playoffs is officially underway and there is quite a bit to be sorted out over the final two weeks. With a few teams in both the NFC and AFC already having locked up their postseason berths, the seedings remain up in the air.
As we head into Week 16, there are five teams who have locked up playoff spots and two others who are all but locks to make the dance. Even beyond that, a real argument can be made that only three postseason spots are being fought for at this point. On the NFC side, the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears have secured a berth.
For the AFC, the group includes the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers while the Houston Texans and New England Patriots are all but a lock to get in as well. Per PlayoffStatus.com, the chances of either the Texans or Patriots missing the postseason is one percent or less.
Before we dive into the playoff standings and matchups, let’s first take a look at the Week 16 NFL schedule. I’ll highlight the games which specifically have playoff implications.
Games on Week 16 NFL Schedule With Playoff Impact
*Note: Teams with records next to them are in the playoff mix.
- Washington Redskins (7-7) at Tennessee Titans (8-6)
- Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (11-3)
- Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (6-7-1)
- Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) at Detroit Lions
- New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins (7-7)
- Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (9-5)
- Houston Texans (10-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)
- Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (6-8)
- Los Angeles Rams (11-3) at Arizona Cardinals
- Chicago Bears (10-4) at San Francisco 49ers
- Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1) at New Orleans Saints (12-2)
- Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) at Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
While not all of the teams headlined above are playing for their playoff lives, there are seeds that still need to be figured out across the board. Both divisions could feature changes all over the playoff picture in both Week 16 and 17.
Let’s take a look at the updated standings for both the NFC and AFC while evaluating how the current playoff matchups would look.
AFC Playoff Standings
|1. Kansas City Chiefs||11||3||0|
|2. Houston Texans||10||4||0|
|3. New England Patriots||9||5||0|
|4. Pittsburgh Steelers||8||5||1|
|5. L.A. Chargers||11||3||0|
|6. Baltimore Ravens||8||6||0|
|7. Indianapolis Colts||8||6||0|
|8. Tennessee Titans||8||6||0|
|9. Miami Dolphins||7||7||0|
|10. Cleveland Browns||6||7||1|
|11. Denver Broncos||6||8||0|
|12. Cincinnati Bengals||6||8||0|
|13. Buffalo Bills||5||9||0|
|14. New York Jets||4||10||0|
|15. Jacksonville Jaguars||4||10||0|
|16. Oakland Raiders||3||11||0|
Each team from the Cleveland Browns and above have playoff hopes still alive entering the final two weeks. Even the Browns would need a ton of work and boast odds of less than one percent to make the playoffs.
When evaluating the AFC, the real positions to watch will be how the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens battle for the division plays out. If either of those two teams slips up and loses a game, both the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans are waiting in the wings to jump into that final Wild Card spot.
AFC Playoff Matchups Based on Current Standings
No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (Bye)
No. 2 Houston Texans (Bye)
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens vs. No. 3 New England Patriots
No. 5 L.A. Chargers vs. No. 4 Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC Playoff Standings
|1. New Orleans Saints||12||2||0|
|2. L.A. Rams||11||3||0|
|3. Chicago Bears||10||4||0|
|4. Dallas Cowboys||8||6||0|
|5. Seattle Seahawks||8||6||0|
|6. Minnesota Vikings||7||6||1|
|7. Washington Redskins||7||7||0|
|8. Philadelphia Eagles||7||7||0|
|9. Carolina Panthers||6||8||0|
|10. Green Bay Packers||5||8||1|
|11. Tampa Bay Bucs||5||9||0|
|12. New York Giants||5||9||0|
|13. Detroit Lions||5||9||0|
|14. Atlanta Falcons||5||9||0|
|15. San Francisco 49ers||3||11||0|
|16. Arizona Cardinals||4||10||0|
The seeds in the NFC are expected to look similar when the postseason begins to how they do currently for the division winners. Along with that, the Seahawks hold roughly a 96 percent chance to make the playoffs so this battle could come down to figuring out who takes the final Wild Card spot.
Although the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins are longshots, they remain alive and just need to get some help to jump the Vikings. Unfortunately for the Carolina Panthers, that same thing can’t be said as they have just a one percent chance to push their way into the playoffs.
NFC Playoff Matchups Based on Current Standings
No. 1 New Orleans Saints (Bye)
No. 2 Los Angeles Rams (Bye)
No. 6 Minnesota Vikings vs. No. 3 Chicago Bears
No. 5 Seattle Seahawks vs. No. 4 Dallas Cowboys