With the afternoon games over, it’s time to reshuffle the playoff scenario deck. The AFC contenders, followed by the NFC contenders, are listed below, along with a description regarding what needs to happen in order to qualify and/or maximizing postseason positioning.
Chiefs (11-4): The Chiefs have clinched a playoff berth. A win over the Raiders next weekend or a Chargers loss to the Broncos clinches the AFC West. A win over the Raiders also delivers the No. 1 seed in the AFC. A loss to the Raiders plus a Chargers win results in the Chiefs landing in the No. 5 seed.
Patriots (10-5): They’ve clinched the AFC East for the 10th straight time. A win against the Jets next weekend would give New England its ninth straight first-round bye. A win over the Jets and a Chiefs loss to the Raiders would give the Patriots the No. 1 seed.
Texans (10-5): The Texans have clinched a playoff berth, thanks to Pittsburgh’s loss to the Saints. The Texans now need a win against the Jaguars and a loss by the Patriots to the Jets to secure a bye. If the Chiefs and the Patriots lose next week, and the Texans win, the Texans would be the No. 1 seed. Losing next weekend would also result in losing the division crown to the winner of the Colts-Titans game. A Colts-Titans tie would deliver the AFC South to the Texans.
Ravens (9-6): Thanks to that victory over the Chargers, the Ravens are in with a win next week over Cleveland or a Pittsburgh loss to the Bengals. Thanks to the Titans and Colts winning, the Ravens are out with a loss and a Pittsburgh win.
Chargers (11-4): The Chargers can still win the AFC West by beating the Broncos in Denver, if the Chiefs lose at home to the Raiders. Absent that, the Chargers will be the No. 5 seed.
Titans (9-6): With Pittsburgh losing, next Sunday night’s game against the Colts becomes a win-and-in scenario. The Titans could win the division by beating the Colts, if the Texans lose to the Jaguars.
Colts (9-6): The Colts have the same scenario as the Titans.
Steelers (8-6-1): The Steelers are screwed, thanks to their loss to the Saints. They need to beat the Bengals and root for the Browns to beat the Ravens. If the Steelers win and the Browns and Ravens tie, the Steelers would win the tiebreaker with the Ravens based on a better division record.
Dolphins (7-8): Their loss to the Jaguars eliminated Miami from playoff consideration.
Saints (13-2): The win over Pittsburgh gives the Saints the No. 1 seed.
Rams (12-3): They’ve won the NFC West, but nothing more yet. They’ll secure a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed with a win over the 49ers or a Bears loss to the Vikings. If the Rams lose and the Bears win, the Rams will fall to the No. 3 seed.
Bears (11-4): The Bears can become the No. 2 seed if they beat the Vikings, and if the Rams lose to the 49ers. Otherwise, Chicago is locked in as the No. 3 seed.
Cowboys (9-6): They’ve clinched the NFC East, and they’re locked in as the No. 4 seed.
Seahawks (9-6): The Seahawks have clinched a playoff berth. A win next week over Arizona makes Seattle the No. 5 seed. If they lose and the Vikings beat Chicago, the Seahawks would be the No. 6 seed.
Vikings (8-6-1): The win over the Lions, combined with Philly’s win over the Texans, requires the Vikings to win next weekend to nail down a playoff berth, unless Eagles lose to Washington.
Eagles (8-7): A win next weekend at Washington plus a Vikings loss would give the Eagles the No. 6 seed.
Washington (7-8): The wins by the Vikings and Eagles have eliminated Washington.
Panthers (6-9): The Panthers were eliminated by their loss to Atlanta.