After Saturday night’s 31-18 win by the Falcons over Detroit, we at least know that the NFC playoffs will be running through Atlanta. The rest of the playoff picture? Not quite so clear.
Tonight’s Seahawks-49ers game will play a major role in determining how the rest of the conference’s seeding will stack up while in the AFC, a crucial matchup between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh could potentially decide which of those teams will be heading into the New Year with lots of free time on their hands.
Here’s where the NFL playoff picture stands heading into the early kickoffs in Week 16. We’ll be updating it multiple times throughout the day as the postseason lineup becomes more clear.
READY TO GO: RGIII cleared to start for Redskins
First Round Byes
(1) Houston Texans (12-2)
Houston’s 29-17 win over Indianapolis in Week 15 clinched the AFC South title.
Remaining opponents: Minnesota (8-6), at Indianapolis (9-5)
STILL OUT: Ray Lewis to remain on injured reserve
(2) Denver Broncos (11-3)
The AFC West champs dominated Baltimore 34-17 last week and got some extra help from San Francisco to move into a one-game lead in the conference standings.
Remaining opponents: Cleveland (5-9), Kansas City (2-12)
Wild Card Round
(6) Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) at (3) New England Patriots (10-4)
Last week’s loss to the 49ers was likely the last formidable challenge for the Patriots in the regular season. The Bengals currently hold the conference’s final playoff spot but will have that tested today at Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati remaining opponents: at Pittsburgh (7-7), Baltimore (9-5)
New England remaining opponents: at Jacksonville (2-12), Miami (6-8)
(5) Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at (4) Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
The Colts need a win or Pittsburgh loss to clinch the AFC’s first wild card spot. Baltimore can win the AFC North with a victory over the Giants and Cincinnati loss.
Indianapolis remaining opponents: at Kansas City (2-12), Houston (12-2)
Baltimore remaining opponents: New York Giants (8-6), at Cincinnati (8-6)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
The Steelers now face a must-win game at home versus Cincinnati.
Remaining opponents: Cincinnati (8-6), Cleveland (5-9)
Miami Dolphins (6-8)
Technically they’re still in it.
Remaining opponents: Buffalo (5-9), at New England (10-4)
First Round Byes
1) Atlanta Falcons (13-2)
The NFC South champs clinched a first-round bye and homefield advantage through the NFC playoffs with Saturday night’s win over Detroit.
Remaining opponents: Tampa Bay (6-8)
2) San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1)
The NFC West leaders earned some breathing room heading into tonight’s showdown with the Seahawks, clinching a playoff spot with their win against New England.
Remaining opponents: at Seattle (9-5), Arizona (5-9)
Wild Card Round
(6) Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at (3) Green Bay Packers (10-4)
The Packers clinched the NFC North with a 21-13 win over the Bears. Dallas’ win over Pittsburgh now throws the final NFC wild-card spot into a four-team tie, in which the Vikings currently own the tiebreaker.
Minnesota remaining opponents: at Houston (12-2), Green Bay (10-4)
Green Bay remaining opponents: Tennessee (4-9), at Minnesota (8-6)
(5) Seattle Seahawks (9-5) at (4) Washington Redskins (8-6)
The Seahawks have put up two consecutive 50+ point showings heading into a key NFC West matchup with the 49ers. The Redskins now control their own destiny with two division games to close out the regular season.
Seattle remaining opponents: San Francisco (10-3-1), St. Louis (6-7-1)
Washington remaining opponents: at Philadelphia (4-10), Dallas (8-6)
New York Giants (8-6)
The Giants are currently tied for both the NFC East lead and NFC’s final wild card spot, but if the season ended today they would lose out on both based on tiebreakers.
Remaining opponents: at Baltimore (9-5), Philadelphia (4-10)
Chicago Bears (8-6)
The Bears remain in the hunt for the final wild card spot as one of five NFC teams with an 8-6 record.
Remaining opponents: at Arizona (5-9), at Detroit (4-10)
Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
The Week 17 showdown with the Redskins could end up determining the NFC East.
Remaining opponents: New Orleans (6-8), at Washington (8-6)
St. Louis Rams (6-7-1)
Technically they’re still in it
Remaining opponents: at Tampa Bay (6-8), at Seattle (9-5)