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Making sense of the NFL playoff picture, with 16 games to go

Russell+Wilson+Seattle+Seahawks+v+Denver+Broncos+OxajuAhdvFol Getty Images

Here’s a look at the most likely playoff seeds in the AFC and NFC, heading into the final Sunday of the 2013 NFL season:

AFC
Home-field advantage: Denver, with a win on Sunday or a New England loss. New England would clinch home-field advantage with a win and a Denver loss.

2 seed: New England, with a win on Sunday or losses by the Bengals and Colts. Cincinnati and Indianapolis are both still in the hunt for the 2 seed but need help. Denver would fall to the 2 seed with a loss and a New England win.

3 seed: Cincinnati, assuming the favored teams win on Sunday. The Bengals could still move up to the 2 seed or drop to the 4 seed, and so could the Colts.

4 seed: Indianapolis, assuming the favored teams win on Sunday. The Colts could still move all the way up to the 2 seed, but they need to win and the Patriots and Bengals both need to lose.

5 seed: Kansas City has clinched the 5 seed. The Chiefs are the only playoff team with nothing to play for on Sunday.

6 seed: Miami, if all the favored teams win on Sunday. Baltimore needs to upset Cincinnati and needs either the Dolphins or Chargers to lose. San Diego needs to win and needs Baltimore and Miami both to lose. Pittsburgh needs to win while Miami, Baltimore and San Diego all lose. If Pittsburgh, Miami, Baltimore and San Diego all lose, the Ravens get the 6 seed.

NFC
Home-field advantage: Seattle, with a win on Sunday or a 49ers loss. Carolina can still earn home-field advantage with a win, a Seattle loss and a San Francisco win. San Francisco can still earn home-field advantage with a win and losses by both the Seahawks and the Panthers.

2 seed: Carolina clinches the NFC South and a first-round bye with a win or a New Orleans loss. New Orleans would clinch the NFC South and the 2 seed with a win and a Carolina loss. San Francisco would be the 2 seed with a win, a Seahawks loss and a Panthers win.

3 seed: Philadelphia clinches the 3 seed with a win on Sunday. If the Eagles lose, the 3 seed would either be the Bears (if they beat the Packers) or the Cowboys (if the Packers beat the Bears).

4 seed: Green Bay will be the 4 seed with a win at Chicago on Sunday, a win the Packers are now favored to get with Aaron Rodgers back. Chicago will be the 4 seed if it beats Green Bay and Philadelphia beats Dallas. The Cowboys will be the 4 seed if they beat the Eagles and the Bears beat the Packers.

5 seed: San Francisco will be the 5 seed with a win and a Seahawks win. If the 49ers win and the Seahawks lose, the Seahawks will be the 5 seed. If the 49ers lose and the Saints win, the Saints will be the 5 seed and the 49ers will be the 6 seed.

6 seed: New Orleans will be the 6 seed with a win and a 49ers win. If the Saints win and the 49ers lose to the Cardinals, the Saints will be the 5 seed and the 49ers will fall to the 6 seed. If the Cardinals beat the 49ers and the Saints lose to the Buccaneers, the Cardinals will be the 6 seed and the Saints will be out of the playoffs.

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43 Responses to “Making sense of the NFL playoff picture, with 16 games to go”
  1. cardsfann1 says: Dec 27, 2013 8:00 AM

    Come on Bucs!!! Shock the world with a win in NOLA!!!

  2. meatcarroll says: Dec 27, 2013 8:01 AM

    2013 NFC West = 1984 AFC West. Pure brutality.

  3. reed20fence says: Dec 27, 2013 8:13 AM

    Miami will not survive the Jets. The AFC six seed belongs to either San Diego or Baltimore.

  4. bigbenownsthenfl says: Dec 27, 2013 8:14 AM

    Steelers playoff bound! #steelernationbelieves

  5. titansbro says: Dec 27, 2013 8:17 AM

    I’m actually rooting for a Bucs win as well because I want Zona to be in there. They deserve it, they are legit. Not that NO isn’t legit. But when a team goes 11-5 in the NFC West that’s like going 13-3 or 14-2 in one of the weaker divisions. Imagine if they played in the AFC South.

  6. atleastimnotaraidersfan says: Dec 27, 2013 8:21 AM

    If it weren’t for the worthless raiders, the AFC west would be right up there with NFC west.

  7. kolipito says: Dec 27, 2013 8:27 AM

    I want the Pack to get a chance against Seattle, they need some Payback for the FAIL mary last year and rodgers is the man when playing with a chip on his shoulder!!!

  8. finsblood13 says: Dec 27, 2013 8:45 AM

    Fins take the 6 seed!! Book it!!

  9. shaggymarrs says: Dec 27, 2013 8:47 AM

    I love seeing the playoff picture this undecided in Week 17. There’s nothing worse than having the playoffs all sorted out in Week 15 and having the last two weeks just be a bunch of garbage games. Hooray parity!

  10. thompsonway says: Dec 27, 2013 8:49 AM

    Never count a bad Bear team out, when they are the underdog at home. Bear down soccer fans.

  11. captaincanoe says: Dec 27, 2013 8:56 AM

    ….and rodgers is the man when playing with a chip on his shoulder!!!

    Did you mean to be funny? Good one.

  12. leatherface2012 says: Dec 27, 2013 9:01 AM

    just give the win to gb already. theyve done that all year

  13. starderup says: Dec 27, 2013 9:02 AM

    Hoping the bagheads lose and the 49ers roll.

  14. jcmeyer10 says: Dec 27, 2013 9:10 AM

    It’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrr.

  15. leatherface2012 says: Dec 27, 2013 9:11 AM

    packers wouldnt survive a road game over philly carolina or seattle. its over cheeseheads

  16. robf2010 says: Dec 27, 2013 9:13 AM

    “I’m actually rooting for a Bucs win as well because I want Zona to be in there. They deserve it, they are legit.”

    Just remember why the Saints own the tiebreaker over the Cards, a 31-7 trouncing back in September. :)

  17. johnster67 says: Dec 27, 2013 9:22 AM

    Even if Dallas somehow gets lucky and the iggles don’t show up, they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.

  18. boomboombrown says: Dec 27, 2013 10:01 AM

    The Green Bay Marshmallows in the playoffs? Don’t count the Bears out yet!

  19. holeinone09 says: Dec 27, 2013 10:04 AM

    Time to crank up the Terrible Towels!!

  20. igotgamenj says: Dec 27, 2013 10:07 AM

    If Miami gets the 6th seed it would be pretty amazing after all the distractions this team has had this year.

  21. hehateme2 says: Dec 27, 2013 10:09 AM

    jets have no QB and a coach about to be run out of town. Walk in the park.

    Fins 24-13

  22. hess97 says: Dec 27, 2013 10:22 AM

    Saints shouldn’t be in there. Refs hooked them up with two wins vs TB & SF, both on pad-level hits that caused Drew Brees to fumble away the game….. Until the replacements’ replacements stepped in and flagged those hits for not being soft enough hits on such a soft star player.

    If these bogus calls didn’t happen, SF would be the 1 and AZ would be the 6. So, great job refs.

  23. leatherface2012 says: Dec 27, 2013 10:25 AM

    watch the officiating. any hit on rodgers in the torso or even near the shoulder pads will be called hit to the head. watch the packer d-backs. they’ll be pulling receivers jerseys like they were rubber bands

  24. schmitty2 says: Dec 27, 2013 10:25 AM

    You know how scary the NFC West is? The 3rd place team (Cards) could end up with 11 wins and MISS the playoffs and the last place team (Rams), with their record, would be either battling for the NFC North title or an AFC wildcard if they were in a different division.

  25. elliottcovert says: Dec 27, 2013 10:25 AM

    Although I’m rooting for the Cardinals, I think the Saints will get in. I could see the Saints beating Dallas at Jerryworld, but I seriously doubt they could beat the Eagles at the Linc in cold weather, especially without Kenny Vacarro.

  26. leatherface2012 says: Dec 27, 2013 10:32 AM

    i wish the playoff picture would have some clarity by monday morning, and they still wont know

  27. jayniner says: Dec 27, 2013 10:44 AM

    Looks like another 49ers/Packers game round 1 of the playoffs again!

  28. tvguy22 says: Dec 27, 2013 10:54 AM

    Saints coming to Philly in January? Hmm, that might be a winnable game for the Eagles.

  29. indywilson40 says: Dec 27, 2013 11:08 AM

    Thumbs up if you think the Colts will win the Super Bowl. Thumbs down if you think the Colts will win the Super Bowl.

  30. the8man says: Dec 27, 2013 11:12 AM

    If I were a Cowboys defensive player, I’d consider changing jobs. Because right now, I suck at what I do.

  31. jakethesnake57 says: Dec 27, 2013 11:28 AM

    E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLLLLLLES!!! 🏉

  32. gb4mn0 says: Dec 27, 2013 11:33 AM

    This has got to be crushing to the feeble vikqueens fans. Here it is week 17 with the closeout game at the metrodump and a team that we all were told by the pseudo-intellectual lavender Larry toads would be division champs with a 12-4 record and their mvp running back would be setting a new mark in the rushing record. But it was all just more of the delusional senseless hype we’ve all come to expect from the Land of 10k Trailer Park Cesspools. Nuff Said!!

  33. canedaddy says: Dec 27, 2013 11:35 AM

    Bummer that the Ravens have to hope for the Jets to beat the Dolphins or the Chiefs’ backups to upset the Chargers, but that’s where they’ve left themselves. Bet they wish they could have back all those ugly narrow losses vs. Bills, Bears, Packers, Browns, etc.

  34. anarchopurplism says: Dec 27, 2013 11:42 AM

    At least the NFC West didn’t have a 7-9 division winner this year!

    Hope this up-swing lasts.

  35. robf2010 says: Dec 27, 2013 11:44 AM

    “Saints shouldn’t be in there. Refs hooked them up with two wins vs TB & SF”

    No fans cry as good as 49ers fans.

    The call was right. The 49ers got the ball back twice after that play and still couldn’t win the game or keep the Saints from winning it.

  36. cobirdsfan says: Dec 27, 2013 11:48 AM

    It’s Denver’s for the taking this go-around in the AFC. New England/Denver rematch in the AFC championship would be, in my opinion, the only real hurdle for Peyton & Co. to reach the big one. As far as the NFC goes… Seattle’s looking beatable, New Orleans (if they get in) has proven consistently they cannot win outside their city, No one wants to win the NFC North and if Philly takes care of business in Dallas, they could be scary, plus no one’s talking about SF and that’s how they want it… Football in January, gotta love it.

  37. tigersfandan says: Dec 27, 2013 12:09 PM

    I hope the Cardinals can make the playoffs.

  38. joebone says: Dec 27, 2013 12:21 PM

    Take the Bears and the points. Rack me.

  39. pastabelly says: Dec 27, 2013 12:30 PM

    Gooddell wants to make the regular season longer. If the goal is more beat up and injured teams going into the playoffs, then he should go for it. I have a feeling that most of us are ready for playoff football and not two more weeks of deciding which teams belong and which teams don’t. The only team that really got shafted this year was Arizona. No other teams that won’t make it deserve to be there.

  40. thatswhatimsayin says: Dec 27, 2013 12:40 PM

    Rodgers always plays worse with a chipped shoulder

  41. 15starr says: Dec 27, 2013 2:41 PM

    I would love to see 49ers at Lambeau in January. I saw Kaepernick on the sidelines this year with a thick winter coat on, and it was only 45-50 degrees. It’s been single digits almost every day in GB this winter.

  42. rje49 says: Dec 27, 2013 4:23 PM

    I’d say having 8 divisions for 32 teams guarantees this chaotic situation- exactly as planned for the excitement value we are reading about. Also, with a 16 game schedule it would be impossible to NOT to go down to the wire for several teams to make/not make the playoffs.

  43. dacktle49 says: Dec 27, 2013 7:57 PM

    I would love to see the 9ers in GB as well. But the thing is the Packers are not in the Playoffs just yet, they still need to win a game on Sunday. Oh and Kaep will be just fine in the elements check the resume.

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