NFL playoff picture, Week 16: Chaos In A Box

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -Joel

This is going to get ugly. But this is why we love the AFC, right?

Kansas City has clinched a spot in the playoffs and, barring a repeat of Denver letting the lead slip away from them in either the upcoming game against Houston or the finale against the Raiders, is a shoo-in for the 5th seed. New England had a shot at the number 1 seed but with their loss to Miami, that still gives Denver the top spot in spite of their loss to San Diego this past Thursday. I got to reading through some of the comments in my last post, and noticed that a few of you would rather prefer squaring off against Denver in the divisional round, provided the Ravens could take care of the Bengals on their home turf before making the trip to Foxborough.

The table you see below breaks down the current AFC standings and if a team has clinched a playoff spot, won their respective division, is on the bubble, or have been eliminated from contention. To the best of my knowledge, we don't have anything like that here. (Joel, if I'm wrong about that please let me know.)

Seeding Team W L T Div. Wins Div. Loss Conf. Wins Conf. Loss
1 Denver Broncos 11 3 0 4 1 7 3 Playoffs
2 New England Patriots 10 4 0 3 2 7 3
3 Cincinnati Bengals 9 5 0 2 3 7 4
4 Indianapolis Colts 9 5 0 5 0 7 3 AFC South Winner
5 Kansas City Chiefs 11 3 0 2 3 7 3 Playoffs
6 Baltimore Ravens 8 6 0 3 2 6 4
Miami Dolphins 8 6 0 2 2 7 3 On the bubble
San Diego Chargers 7 7 0 2 2 4 6 On the bubble
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 8 0 3 2 5 6 On the bubble
New York Jets 6 8 0 2 3 3 7 Eliminated from contention
Tennessee Titans 5 9 0 0 4 4 6 Eliminated from contention
Buffalo Bills 5 9 0 2 2 4 6 Eliminated from contention
Oakland Raiders 4 10 0 1 3 4 6 Eliminated from contention
Jacksonville Jaguars 4 10 0 3 1 4 6 Eliminated from contention
Cleveland Browns 4 10 0 2 3 3 7 Eliminated from contention
Houston Texans 2 12 0 1 4 2 8 Eliminated from contention


Denver still clings to that #1 seed in the AFC, but New England is still right on their heels in spite of a loss to Miami. If the Patriots win on Sunday, combined with a Denver loss and a Kansas City loss, they'll slip past the Broncos to take control of the #1 seed while Denver falls to the #2 seed. Indianapolis would move up to the #3 seed with a win at Kansas City plus a Cincinnati loss to Minnesota. The Bengals would fall to the #4 seed, while the Chiefs still would stay in control of the #5 seed. Miami, with a win on Sunday combined with a New England win and a Minnesota win, would clinch a playoff spot and most likely lock in the #6 seed.

Let's shake things out a little differently. Should Baltimore win on Sunday against New England, they can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a Miami loss and a San Diego loss. Consequently, the Bengals can likewise clinch with a win against the Vikings plus a Dolphins loss; they could also move up to the #2 seed with a New England loss as they would win the tiebreaker due to the head-to-head record (the Bengals defeated the Patriots 13-6 in Week 5). A Baltimore win on Sunday would also help Indianapolis move up should they win; depending on the outcome of the Vikings-Bengals game could see them move as high as the #2 seed (the Colts would have a better conference record (8-3) compared to the Patriots (7-4)).

Time to shake the dice one more time. Kansas City has clinched a spot in the playoffs as of last week, but will need to rely on Houston beating Denver plus a win at home against the Colts in order to be in the driver's seat again for that #1 seed.

Oh, and even if the Steelers and Jets win their final two games to wrap up their seasons at .500, Pittsburgh will need Miami and Baltimore to lose their last two games and San Diego to split their last two in order to sneak in. The Jets are mathematically eliminated as they can do no better than a 5-7 conference record compared to the Steelers' 6-6 conference record. San Diego (8-8) would be out as they would likewise finish with a 5-7 conference record. Miami (8-8, 2-4 division) loses out on division tiebreak to New York (3-3 division), while Baltimore (8-8, 3-3 division) loses out on division tiebreak to Pittsburgh (4-2 division).


All of the key games are on Sunday, so depending on which teams you want squaring off in the Wild Card weekend (and possibly facing the Chiefs at home) are open to debate. I'll give my list below, and why I picked the team. (Oh, and for the record...I was 5-1 in my picks for Week 15.)

Miami @ Buffalo (1 PM Eastern, CBS) - Miami will need to to win this one, and get some help by way of a New England win and a Minnesota win in order to make the playoffs. That will give them the #6 seed, and a possible match-up against the Bengals. (Cincy would own the tiebreaker over Indy at this point.) Miami was firing on all cylinders, and their upset win over the Patriots indicate they're not giving up the fight for the AFC East crown. They could prove to be a dangerous opponent, and Chiefs fans know all too well that the 'Fins have taken the last three of four meetings. Buffalo, on the other hand, is out of contention for the playoffs, but they'll hopefully be eager to play spoiler and ruin Miami's chances. GO BILLS.

Minnesota @ Cincinnati (1 PM Eastern, FOX) - A win here for the Bengals combined with a Ravens' loss/tie on Sunday will hand Cincy the AFC North title. So will a tie and a Baltimore loss. They can also clinch at least a playoff spot with a win and a Miami loss/tie. There's a possibility that Cincy could fall to the #4 seed if they split their last two games (win-loss or loss-win), and that means the Chiefs will wind up facing them in the Wild Card weekend should Denver win out. Also, as I explained earlier Cincy could go as high as the #2 seed, depending on the outcome of the New England-Baltimore game. Conversely, they could drop all the way to the #6 seed if they lose their last two games, but would need Buffalo to beat Miami this week in order to stay in the hunt.

As for the Vikings, they're out of contention for the NFC playoffs at 4-9-1, and although they're 0-6-1 on the road they could still play spoiler. Two, I could never root for a former Chiefs' QB, but I'll make an exception just this once as I still think an AFC North clash in the Wild Card round will provide some quality entertainment a.k.a. grudge match. GO VIKES.

Denver @ Houston (1 PM Eastern, CBS) - Denver is assured of at least a first-round bye with a win here and a Kansas City loss. Should the Patriots likewise lose, that'll give the Broncos the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Houston is the favorite for the #1 overall pick in next year's draft pick with a dismal 2-12 record, and the Texans will need all the help they can get after starting out 2-0 then burning out too quickly. I don't know if they've just given up entirely and are still going for that top draft pick, or if they can find some inspiration and show up to play. Let's hope it's the latter, and somehow find a way to win this one. GO TEXANS.

Indianapolis @ Kansas City (1 PM Eastern, CBS) - A win here plus a Denver loss puts the Chiefs back in control of that #1 seed in the AFC playoff race. Having the Ravens defeat the Patriots wouldn't hurt, either, as it would put New England two games behind KC. GO CHIEFS!!!


Oakland @ San Diego (4:25 PM Eastern, CBS) - I've only mentioned this one as it could have an impact on that #6 seed. There's a very narrow gap between the Ravens, the Dolphins, and the Chargers. If the Ravens and the Dolphins lose their final two games, and the Bolts win out, they could steal that #6 seed, giving the AFC West three teams in the AFC playoff picture. I'll have to break protocol on this one, and all of AP has my profound apologies in advance. I'll do the dishes for the next three weeks, and it's only because I don't like the idea of seeing the Bolts in the playoffs. GO RAIDERS.

New England @ Baltimore (4:25 Eastern, CBS) - The Patriots can clinch a spot in one of three ways: A win or a tie, or a Miami loss/tie to take the AFC East title; a win, Bengals loss, and Colts' loss to wrap up the #2 seed; or a playoff spot with a Bengals loss. Baltimore can clinch with a win plus a Miami loss and a San Diego loss, and will most likely take the #6 seed. Even if the Patriots do lose this one, they're still in with a Dolphins' loss or tie. No need for them to grab that top seed, now is there? I didn't think so, either. GO RAVENS.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Arrowhead Pride

You must be a member of Arrowhead Pride to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Arrowhead Pride. You should read them.

Join Arrowhead Pride

You must be a member of Arrowhead Pride to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Arrowhead Pride. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.