With only Monday Night Football remaining in Week 14 of the 2016 NFL season, let’s take a look at the updated AFC and NFC Playoff pictures through the Sunday.
Week 14 of the 2016 NFL season has not disappointed so far. Thursday Night Football between the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs was exceptional. Sunday Night Football between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants was an exciting clash between divisional foes.
With only Monday Night Football between the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) and the New England Patriots (10-2) remaining, here is what the AFC and NFC Playoffs pictures look like in the NFL if the season ended today.
New England Patriots (10-2)*
Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
Houston Texans (7-6)
Oakland Raiders (10-3)
Denver Broncos (8-5)
The Patriots (10-2) enter Monday Night Football with the best record in the AFC by half a game over the Chiefs (10-3). New England would stay at No. 1 in the AFC even with a loss to the Ravens on Monday night because of a better record against common opponents with the Chiefs. The Patriots defeated the Steelers and the Texans, while those are two of Kansas City’s three losses on the season.
New England has the best record in the AFC East. The Patriots hold a 2.5-game lead over the Miami Dolphins (8-5), a 4.5-game lead over the Buffalo Bills (6-7), and a 6.5-game lead over the New York Jets (4-9). Buffalo has been eliminated from the AFC East race. New York has been eliminated from playoff contention in the AFC.
Kansas City has the second best record in the AFC and leads the AFC West. The Chiefs completed the season sweep of the Raiders (10-3) to have the head-to-head tiebreaker. Kansas City has a two-game lead over the Broncos (8-5) and a five-game lead over the San Diego Chargers (5-8). San Diego has been eliminated from the AFC West race.
For the time being, the Steelers (8-5) have the best record in the AFC North. The Steelers would be the No. 3 seed in the AFC if the season ended today. They have a brief half-game lead over the Ravens (7-5).
However, Baltimore has to play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Should the Ravens win in Foxborough, they would be in first place in the AFC North by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh would fall into a three-way tie for the No. 6 seed in the AFC with the Dolphins and Broncos. While the Steelers have a better AFC record over the Broncos, they would be on the outside looking in at a playoff berth from their head-to-head loss to the Dolphins in South Beach.
Pittsburgh has a 2.5-game lead over the Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1) and an eight-game lead over the Cleveland Browns (0-13) in the AFC North standings. Cleveland has been eliminated from playoff contention in the AFC.
Houston (7-6) has the best record in the AFC South and would be in possession of the No. 4 seed in the AFC Playoffs if the season ended today. The Texans have the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Tennessee Titans (7-6) in the AFC South.
Houston has a one-game lead by completing the season sweep of the Indianapolis Colts (6-7) on Sunday. The Texans also have a five-game lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) in the AFC South standings. Jacksonville has been eliminated from contention for the AFC Playoffs.
Heading into Monday Night Football, the two teams in the AFC that would be Wild Card teams are the Raiders (10-3) and the Broncos (8-5). Oakland has the best record of a non-division leader in the AFC. The Raiders would be the No. 5 seed. Denver has the tiebreaker over the Dolphins for the No. 6 seed from their game against the Bengals. The Broncos would be the No. 6 seed.
x-Dallas Cowboys (11-2)
Detroit Lions (9-4)
Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)
Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
New York Giants (9-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
Dallas (11-2) has the best record in the NFC East and would be the No. 1 in the NFC Playoffs if the season ended today. The Cowboys have a two-game lead over the Giants (9-4), a 3.5-game lead over the Washington Redskins (7-5-1), and a six-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles (5-8). Washington and Philadelphia have been eliminated from the NFC East race.
Detroit (9-4) has the second best record of a division leader in the NFC. The Lions would be the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoffs and would get a first-round bye if the season ended today. They have a two-game lead over both the Green Bay Packers (7-6) and the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) in the NFC North race.
Detroit has completed the season sweep of the Vikings, but lost its first game to the Packers. The Chicago Bears (3-10) are six games back of the Lions and have been eliminated from playoff contention in the NFC.
Seattle (8-4-1) leads the NFC West and would be the No. 3 seed in the NFC Playoffs. The Seahawks have a three-game lead over the Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1), a 4.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Rams (4-9), and a 7.5-game lead over the San Francisco 49ers (1-12) in the NFC West standings. Los Angeles and San Francisco have been eliminated from NFC playoff contention.
Atlanta (8-5) owns the tiebreaker over the Buccaneers (8-5) for the lead in the NFC South. The Falcons are one game better than Tampa Bay in common games. Atlanta would be the No. 4 seed in the NFC Playoffs and the NFC South winner if the season ended today.
The Falcons have three-game leads over both the Carolina Panthers (5-8) and the New Orleans Saints (5-8) in the NFC South race. A loss by either of those teams or a win by either the Buccaneers or Falcons in Week 15 eliminates the Panthers or Saints from NFC playoff contention.
Through Week 14, the two teams that would make the 2016 NFC Playoffs as the Wild Cards are the Giants (9-4) and the Buccaneers (8-5). New York would be the No. 5 seed by having the best record of a non-division leader in the NFC. The Buccaneers would be the No. 6 seed for having the second best record of a non-division leader in the NFC.