NFL Playoff Picture 2017

December 18, 2016

Dallas Cowboys clinched a NFL playoff spot first while the Seattle Seahawks are the first team to clinch a NFL division title for the road to the Super Bowl.

 

The New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants and Detroit Lions all have a chance to clinch a playoff berth this weekend of the week 15 NFL schedule.

 

The Patriots can take a step toward locking down home-field advantage by beating the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but Denver will be fighting for its playoff life in the face of the league’s toughest remaining schedule. The Broncos face three of the league’s four teams with double-digit wins and may need to win all three just to hang on to a wild card berth.

 

The Chiefs and Raiders, the other two 10-win teams on Denver’s schedule, will battle for the AFC West title and the first-round bye that will come with it. Two more division races seem primed to come down to the wire as well. The Houston Texans are currently fending off the Tennessee Titans thanks to owning a handful of tiebreakers over their South rivals. With a game against Jacksonville Jaguars looming and Tennessee traveling to Kansas City, Brock Osweiler will have a big opportunity to get his team in position for back-to-back playoff bids.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers currently lead the AFC North after beating Buffalo Bills for its fourth straight win last week. The Baltimore Ravens can make their Week 16 showdown with the Steelers must-see television by beating the suddenly free-falling Philadelphia Eagles at home. A victory Sunday would put Baltimore in position to wrest control of the division from its rival and return to the playoffs in 2017.

 

AFC

1) New England Patriots (11-2)

2) Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

3) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

4) Houston Texans (7-6)

5) Oakland Raiders (10-3)

6) Miami Dolphins (9-5)

 

Still in the hunt:

Denver Broncos (8-5)

Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Tennessee Titans (7-6)

Buffalo Bills (6-7)

Indianapolis Colts (6-7)

Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)

San Diego Chargers (5-8)

 

Eliminated: New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns

The NFC is much clearer at the top, where Dallas just needs a win and a Giants’ loss to lock down the conference’s No. 1 seed. Seattle was in a similar position in the West, where a win over the Rams in Week 15 clinched its division crown.

 

The real excitement is in the South. Tampa Bay Buccaneers comeback from a 3-5 start has the Buccaneers a tiebreaker away from leading the division, but Atlanta has refused to fold after squandering a 5-0 start and missing the playoffs last season. The Falcons hold the tiebreaker over their rival, and with a date in Dallas looming for the Bucs, Atlanta seems like a safe bet to extend its grip on a playoff berth.

 

The North may also come down to the wire. Detroit leads the division, but Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings have a chance to catch the Lions despite trailing by two games with only three weeks left in the season. An injured Matthew Stafford will have to lead his team past the Giants and Cowboys before a season finale against the Packers. With that murderers’ row looming, it seems anyone — except the Bears — could wind up claiming the division crown and the playoff berth that comes with it.

 

NFC

1) Dallas Cowboys (11-2)*

2) Detroit Lions (9-4)

3) Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)**

4) Atlanta Falcons (8-5)

5) New York Giants (9-4)

6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)

 

Still in the hunt:

Washington Redskins (7-5-1)

Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

Green Bay Packers (7-6)

New Orleans Saints (5-8)

Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)

Carolina Panthers (5-8)

Eliminated: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers

 

*clinched a playoff berth

 

**clinched a division title

 

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