NFL Standings & Playoff Picture

The current standings in the AFC:

1. Houston <clinched playoff spot> (11-2)

2. New England <clinched division> (10-3) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Denver)

3. Denver <clinched division>

4. Baltimore (9-4)

5. Indianapolis (9-4)

6. Pittsburgh (7-6) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Cincinnati)

In the Hunt

7. Cincinnati

8. New York (6-7)

Mathematically Alive

9. Cleveland (5-8) (conference record drops Buffalo [head-to-head on Miami for division ranking] from tie, then head-to-head on San Diego)

10. San Diego (conference record on Buffalo)

11. Buffalo

12. Miami

Eliminated

13. Tennessee (4-9)

14. Oakland (3-10)

15. Jacksonville (2-11) (conference record tiebreaker on Kansas City)

16. Kansas City

Houston’s loss to the Patriots means that, while the Texans would still be the #1 seed if they win out, they are also one stumble away from the Pats taking that spot.  The Pats also have the advantage on Denver for a bye seed.  The Colts still control their destiny for winning the South as they remarkably have both games remaining with the Texans.  They are also going to be a playoff team unless they lose out and have bad luck.  Despite taking a bad loss to the Chargers, the Steelers are in control of making the playoffs; if they beat the Bengals December 23rd they only have to win 1 of their other 2 games unless the Jets win out AND the Colts lose out.  The Jets are very much alive if they win 3 winnable games and get to 9-7, but their mid-September loss to the Steelers could hurt them.  They would be much better off if the Steelers lose a couple times and they are tied with the Bengals.  The Bengals would make the playoffs for sure if they win out; beating the Steelers and winning one other game is less certain to work than it is for Pittsburgh as the tiebreaking would be less clearly in their favor.  In fact, it would not be in their favor if they lost to Baltimore December 30th if the Steelers beat Cleveland that day.  The teams at 5-8 need a lot to happen, starting with the Bengals v Steelers game winner losing both of their other games.  Of the teams in that spot the Browns are in the best shape.  They can control handing the Steelers a loss, and they win any divisional ties at 8-8 (keep in mind that winning division ties are of paramount importance, as you cannot be slotted ahead of a team you are behind in your own division).  Also, they have a head-to-head win on San Diego.  The Chargers are in the next best shape of the teams that would at best be 8-8 because they would be 7-5 in the conference at that record, whereas the Bills and Dolphins would be merely 6-6 (the Jets, Steelers, and Bengals) would be 6-6 or worse in the conference at 8-8.

Projected Playoff Schedule

Indianapolis @ Baltimore Saturday January 5th at 4:30pm on NBC

Pittsburgh @ Denver Sunday January 6th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower wildcard winner @ Houston Saturday January 12th at 4:30pm on CBS

Higher wildcard winner @ New England Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm on CBS

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm on CBS

NFC

1. Atlanta <clinched division> (11-2)

2. San Francisco (9-3-1)

3. Green Bay (9-4)

4. New York (8-5)

5. Seattle (8-5) (head-to-head tiebreaker on Chicago)

6. Chicago

In the Hunt

7. Washington (7-6) ([head to head on Dallas for division rank] head-to-head on Minnesota)

8. Dallas (record vs opponents that will be common with Minnesota tiebreaker)

9. Minnesota

10. St. Louis (6-6-1)

Mathematically Alive

11. Tampa Bay (6-7)

12. New Orleans (5-8)

Eliminated

13. Carolina (4-9) (conference record tiebreaker [conference record percentage points on Detroit])

14. Detroit (conference record tiebreaker)

15. Arizona (head-to-head on Philadelphia)

16. Philadelphia

Despite losing Sunday Atlanta remains in strong position to eventually get the #1 seed, as they need only win 2 of their last 3 games.  Chicago continues to slide and is now in danger of dropping out of playoff position.  Washington, while still currently on the outside, remains in relatively good shape, as they hold relevant tiebreakers should the Giants slip up, or for the wildcard if the Bears or Seahawks take a stumble.  Dallas is also in good position to win the East should the Giants lose a game, as the Cowboys would hold tiebreaking if they beat the ‘Skins December 30th.  If the entire season had been played with the normal refs, the Packers would be in bye seed position, the Bears would be 5th, the Redskins would be in, and the Seahawks would be out of the playoffs.

Projected Playoff Schedule:

Chicago @ Green Bay Saturday January 5th at 8pm on NBC

Seattle @ New York Sunday January 6th at 1pm on Fox

Higher wildcard winner @ San Francisco Saturday January 12th at 8pm on Fox

Lower wildcard winner @ Atlanta Sunday January 13th at 1pm on Fox

Lower seed @ Higher seed Sunday January 20th at 3pm on Fox

And here are the official Week 15 clinching scenarios from nfl.com:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Atlanta clinches a first-round bye:

1) ATL win + GB loss or tie

2) ATL win + SF loss

3) ATL tie + GB loss

Atlanta clinches homefield advantage:

1) ATL win + GB loss or tie + SF loss

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

San Francisco clinches NFC West Division:

1) SF win + SEA loss

San Francisco clinches a playoff berth:

1) SF win

2) SF tie + DAL loss or tie + WAS loss or tie + MIN loss or tie

3) SF tie + DAL loss or tie + WAS loss or tie + GB-CHI does not end in tie

4) SF tie + DAL loss or tie + MIN loss or tie + CHI loss

5) SF tie + NYG loss + MIN loss or tie + CHI loss

6) MIN loss + DAL loss + WAS loss + SEA loss or tie

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Green Bay clinches NFC North Division:

1) GB win

Green Bay clinches a playoff berth:

1) GB tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + STL-MIN tie

2) GB tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + MIN loss + SF win or tie

3) GB tie + DAL loss + WAS loss + MIN loss + SEA does not tie

HOUSTON TEXANS

Houston clinches AFC South Division:

1) HOU win

Houston clinches a first-round bye:

1) HOU win + NE loss or tie + DEN loss

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore clinches AFC North Division:

1) BAL win

2) BAL tie + PIT loss or tie + CIN loss or tie

3) PIT loss + CIN loss

Baltimore clinches a playoff berth:

1) BAL tie

2) CIN loss or tie

3) PIT loss or tie

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Indianapolis clinches a playoff berth:

1) IND win

2) IND tie + CIN loss or tie

3) IND tie + PIT loss or tie

4) IND tie + BAL win

5) NYJ loss or tie + CIN loss

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