NFL Playoff Picture: Updated Look at Playoff Races After Week 16

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIDecember 23, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 23:  Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts passes during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Week 16 has provided a few more answers about which NFL teams will be playing in January.

All of the AFC playoff teams are set, but teams will still battle for seedings. The NFC playoff picture is far from decided, and there are still many twists and turns to come. 

Here is how the standings currently look, with updates coming as games finish. 


NFC East

Current Leader In Contention
Washington Redskins (9-6)   Dallas Cowboys (8-7)

After the New York Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens, the most complicated division race in the NFL just became extremely simple. 

The NFC East will be decided when the Redskins host the Cowboys next week, and this matchup will be the marquee game. 


NFC West

Current Leader In Contention
San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1) Seattle Seahawks (10-5) 

With Sunday night's win over the 49ers, Seattle clinched a playoff berth.

However, the Seahawks still need another win and a 49ers loss in Week 17 to earn the NFC West crown.


NFC South

Division Winner
Atlanta Falcons (13-2)

With a 31-18 victory over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night, the Falcons clinched the top overall seed in the playoffs. 

The road to the Super Bowl will go through Atlanta for NFC teams, and the Falcons can only hope this postseason run will go better than it did in 2010 when they had the No. 1 seed. 


NFC North

Division Winner
Green Bay Packers (11-4) 

The Packers won the NFC North in Week 15 with an impressive victory over the Chicago Bears. 

Green Bay kept rolling this week with a 55-7 rout over the Tennessee Titans. In recent years, teams that get hot at the right time have an advantage in the playoffs, and Aaron Rodgers has the Packers looking as good as any team in the league right now. 


NFC Wild Card

Current Leaders In Contention
Seattle Seahawks (10-5)
Chicago Bears (9-6)
Minnesota Vikings (9-6)
New York Giants (8-7)

The NFC Wild Card race has become slightly simplified, but the situation is still incredibly complicated.

The Vikings kept themselves in a favorable position with a surprising 23-6 victory over the Houston Texans.

New York can no longer win the NFC East, but it can still get into the playoffs as a Wild Card. However, a Minnesota, Chicago or Washington victory would end the Giants’ season. 

Chicago cruised past the Arizona Cardinals with a  28-13 victory, and they are now still alive in the playoff hunt. The NFC Wild Card race remains unsettled heading into the final week of the season, but currently, Minnesota has the upper hand.

Seattle clinched a berth with Sunday night's win over San Francisco.


AFC East

Division Winner
New England Patriots (11-4)

The Patriots' 23-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars was not as impressive as many New England fans would have liked, but the result keeps that team in contention for a first-round bye. 

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are fighting only to improve their seed right now, and the Pats will need to Denver Broncos to slip up either this afternoon or next weekend for that to happen. 


AFC West

Division Winner
Denver Broncos (12-3)

The Broncos’ matchup with the Cleveland Browns went as planned, and Denver won 34-12. The victory keeps the team in the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

With a win over the Kansas City Chiefs next week, the Broncos will have a first-round bye. 


AFC North

Current Leader
Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

With a 33-14 victory over the Giants, Baltimore clinched the AFC North and will drop no lower than the No. 4 seed.

The Bengals will be disappointed at the result, as a victory over the Ravens next week still would not give them a division title. 


AFC South

Division Winner
Houston Texans (12-3)

The Texans lost to the Vikings and have left the door open for the Broncos to steal home-field advantage for the playoffs. 

If Houston fails to beat the Indianapolis Colts next week, it risks having to play on Wild Card Weekend. 


AFC Wild Card

Current Leaders
Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

Indy has clinched a playoff spot with their 20-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and there is no longer any doubt that Indianapolis has been the most surprising team this season. 

But the twists kept coming in the AFC as Ben Roethlisberger's costly interception led to a game-winning field goal for the Bengals. Cincinnati is in the playoffs at the expense of the Steelers and will fight to improve its seed next week.