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NFL Playoff Standings 2012: AFC and NFC Rankings, Bubble Teams, Tiebreakers

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 16: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the game at Edward Jones Dome on December 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Vikings won 36-22 as Peterson rushed for 212 yards. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2012

With only two weeks of regular-season action remaining, the NFL playoff picture is beginning to take a defined shape. But even with more and more teams beginning to clinch postseason berths, there are still a number of spots in flux.

Here's an up-to-the-minute look at each conference's playoff race:

 

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

DIVISION LEADERS
 No. 1 Seed Atlanta Falcons (13-2) Clinched NFC South; Home-Field Advantage
 No. 2 Seed San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1) Lead NFC West; Clinched Playoff Berth
 No. 3 Seed Green Bay Packers (11-4) Clinched NFC North
 No. 4 Seed Washington Redskins (9-6) Lead NFC East

 

WILD CARD LEADERS
 No. 5 Seed Seattle Seahawks (10-5) Clinched Playoff Berth
 No. 6 Seed Minnesota Vikings (9-6)

 

IN THE HUNT
 Chicago Bears (9-6)
 Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
 New York Giants (8-7)

 

Tiebreaker Notes:

(1) The winner of the Redskins and Cowboys game will win the NFC East and be the NFC's fourth seed. Washington can still earn a wild-card berth with a loss, if they wind up tied with the Bears and Vikings at 9-7.

(2) Minnesota earns a wild-card berth if they defeat Green Bay in Week 17. If the Giants, Cowboys and Bears all lose, the Vikings are also in.

Chicago needs to beat the Lions and for Green Bay to defeat the Vikings. The Giants must beat the Eagles and see the Vikings, Bears and Cowboys all lose.

 

AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

DIVISION LEADERS
 No. 1 Seed Houston Texans (12-3) Clinched AFC South
 No. 2 Seed Denver Broncos (12-3) Clinched AFC West
 No. 3 Seed New England Patriots (11-4) Clinched AFC East
 No. 4 Seed Baltimore Ravens (10-5) Clinched AFC North

 

WILD CARD LEADERS
 No. 5 Seed Indianapolis Colts (10-5) Clinched Playoff Berth
 No. 6 Seed Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) Clinched Playoff Berth

 

The AFC playoff picture is set, but here are a couple observations in terms of seeding:

(1) The Texans will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they defeat the Colts in Week 17, or if both the Patriots and Broncos lose.

On the other hand, if Denver wins and Houston loses, the Broncos will have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. If they win and Houston wins, Denver will earn the No. 2 seed.

New England needs a win and a loss for both Denver and Houston to earn the No. 1 seed, but a win and a loss for one of those two teams will earn the Patriots the No. 2 seed.

(2) Baltimore leads the teams that aren't vying for a No. 1 seed. If the Ravens beat the Bengals in Week 17 and the Patriots lose, Baltimore will be the No. 3 seed. Anything else lands them in the No. 4 hole.

Indianapolis is a lock as the No. 5 seed, and Cincinnati is set as the No. 6 seed.

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