NFL Playoff Picture 2013: Week 16 Standings, Super Bowl Odds and Wild Card Hunt

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

Dec 15, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;  Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is forced out of the pocket during the first half by New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

In what has been one of the most memorable postseason races in recent years, Week 16 of the 2013 NFL regular season is the most important to date in terms of the outlook for the playoffs.

Both the NFC and the AFC are wide open thanks to the league's resounding parity. Several division titles will surely come down to the final week of action, and the top seed in the AFC remains up for grabs.

Perhaps most entertaining of all, a bevy of teams remain in the race for wild-card spots. As fans have seen in the past, these precious spots are just as important as a top seed—once in, it only takes a streak of a few great games to steal a championship.    

Much will be decided this week as it pertains to the playoffs, in part thanks to the aforementioned parity, and also thanks to the gurus who make the schedule before the season begins.

Here is a complete breakdown of the playoff picture in both conferences along with a look at current Super Bowl odds with Week 16 of the regular season on the horizon.

 

AFC Playoff Breakdown

AFC Standings
AFC East W L
New England Patriots 104
Miami Dolphins 86
New York Jets 68
Buffalo Bills 59
AFC North W L
Cincinnati Bengals 95
Baltimore Ravens (play Week 15 MNF)76
Pittsburgh Steelers 68
Cleveland Browns 4 10
AFC South W L
Indianapolis Colts 95
Tennessee Titans 5 9
Jacksonville Jaguars 410
Houston Texans 2 12
AFC West W L
Denver Broncos 113
Kansas City Chiefs 113
San Diego Chargers 77
Oakland Raiders 4 10
AFC Wild Card W L
Kansas City Chiefs 113
Miami Dolphins 86
Baltimore Ravens 76
San Diego Chargers 77
Pittsburgh Steelers 68
New York Jets 68
ESPN

 

Division Locks: AFC South (Indianapolis)

Likely: AFC East (New England), AFC West (Denver)

Up in the Air: AFC North (Cincinnati)

Wild Card: Kansas City clinched berth, five teams in hunt for No. 6 seed.

 

The Denver Broncos remain the top dog in the AFC despite a 27-20 humbling defeat in Week 15 at the hands of the San Diego Chargers. By way of its sweep over Kansas City, though, the AFC West crown likely will reside in Denver, even if both finish with the same record. 

This should be how things shake out as Vic Lombardi of CBS4 illustrates:

In other words, Denver should win out against a favorable schedule.

Speaking of those scrappy 7-7 Chargers under new head coach Mike McCoy, the Chargers sit behind just the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins for the No. 6 seed. A Week 17 matchup with Kansas City will likely decide the Chargers' fate.

McCoy has done a bang-up job with Philip Rivers and the Chargers, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller notes:

The AFC South is perhaps the most boring division of all, where Indianapolis may be the worst division-winner in recent memory.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins practices prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Meanwhile in the AFC East, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have a stranglehold on the division, but they were shocked by playoff-hungry Miami in Week 15, 24-20, and haven't quite clinched just yet.

The Dolphins now sit in the driver's seat for the sixth seed barring the Ravens' result on Monday night; Baltimore defeated Miami in Week 5. Miami closes the season against the 5-9 Buffalo Bills and 6-8 New York Jets—a favorable schedule that may very well give the Dolphins 10 wins.

Head coach Joe Philbin put it best after Miami's big win, via the Patriots' website:

It's the same group of guys. I like the way this team worked during training camp. I liked their professionalism in the pre-season. I like the way we started the season. We went through a string there...we didn't win a lot of games. We were very, very competitive in those games but we didn't make enough plays to win. We didn't deserve to win. They're the same guys.

But now to the AFC North, where the 9-5 Cincinnati Bengals blew their chance to steal the No. 2 seed in the AFC from New England (tiebreaker via Cincinnati's Week 5 win). The Bengals went out and embarrassed themselves on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers, losing 30-20.

The result opens the door for 7-6 Baltimore, not only to steal the No. 6 seed, but also to win the AFC North. If the Ravens win the rest of their games, including a Week 17 bout in Cincinnati, they will win the division title.

 

NFC Playoff Breakdown

NFC Standings
NFC East W L T
Philadelphia Eagles 860
Dallas Cowboys 7 70
New York Giants 5 90
Washington Redskins 3 110
NFC North W L
Chicago Bears 860
Detroit Lions (play Week 15 MNF)7 60
Green Bay Packers 76 1
Minnesota Vikings 491
NFC South W L
New Orleans Saints 1040
Carolina Panthers 1040
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4100
Atlanta Falcons 4100
NFC West W L
Seattle Seahawks 1220
San Francisco 49ers 1040
Arizona Cardinals 950
St. Louis Rams 680
NFC Wild Card W L
Carolina Panthers 1040
San Francisco 49ers 1040
Arizona Cardinals 950
Detroit Lions 7 60
Green Bay Packers 76 1
Dallas Cowboys 7 70
ESPN

 

Division Locks: None

Likely: NFC West (Seattle), NFC East (Philadelphia)

Up in the Air: NFC South (New Orleans or Carolina), NFC North (Chicago, Detroit or Green Bay)

Wild Card: Six teams with legitimate shot at wild-card berth.

 

The NFC is even more entertaining than the AFC thanks to tight divisional battles. 

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 15: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints passes against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 15, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Saints 27-16.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

At 12-2, the Seattle Seahawks have effectively locked things up in the NFC West and control their own destiny. But New Orleans, the No. 2 seed in the NFC and leader of the NFC South, in no way has full control of either. 

Much like Cincinnati, the Saints went out and laid an egg in Week 15. Two weeks removed from a 31-13 victory over 10-4 Carolina, the Saints traveled to St. Louis and suffered a 27-16 letdown.

Now, a Week 16 showdown at Bank of America Stadium between the Saints and Panthers will all but decide the NFC South crown and create a ripple effect on the rest of the race. New Orleans is in grave danger regardless of playoff positioning thanks to a 3-4 road record and 7-0 home mark. Tackle Zach Strief puts it best:

The NFC East is wide open, too. The 8-6 Philadelphia Eagles traveled to Minnesota in Week 15 and gave up 48 points to an Adrian Peterson-less Vikings team. Philadelphia remains in the NFC East lead but closes against NFC North-leading Chicago and a Dallas team also desperate for the divisional title—anything less in the NFC East likely means missing the playoffs this year.

Don't forget about the NFC North, where Chicago leads the way at 8-6 but the Detroit Lions are right behind. Also, don't dare count out the 7-6-1 Green Bay Packers, who pulled off a stunning comeback victory in Dallas in Week 15 to stay in the hunt and may return quarterback Aaron Rodgers just in time:

Forget about attempting to predict the wild card. Arizona sits at 9-5 and in seventh behind Seattle and San Francisco, currently the owner of the sixth seed. The second-place finisher in the NFC South, at least for now, sits in fifth. But Detroit, Green Bay and Dallas all have something to say about that last berth.

 

Super Bowl Odds Breakdown

Updated Super Bowl Odds (Thru Week 15)
Team Odds
Seattle Seahawks 11-5
Denver Broncos 12-5
New Orleans Saints 9-1
Cincinnati Bengals 10-1
San Francisco 49ers 10-1
New England Patriots 12-1
Carolina Panthers 20-1
Kansas City Chiefs 30-1
Philadelphia Eagles 30-1
Indianapolis Colts 40-1
Detroit Lions 50-1
Baltimore Ravens 60-1
Dallas Cowboys 70-1
Green Bay Packers 70-1
Arizona Cardinals 70-1
Chicago Bears 70-1
Miami Dolphins 70-1
San Diego Chargers 300-1
New York Jets 400-1
Pittsburgh Steelers 650-1
Tennessee Titans 1,500-1
Vegas Insider

All Super Bowl odds courtesy of Vegas Insider

 

Top Contenders: Seattle Seahawks (12-2), Denver Broncos (11-3), New Orleans Saints (10-4), Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)

Not much to see here, folks.

Seattle is the obvious favorite, and helped to further that notion with a 23-0 waxing of the New York Giants in Week 15.

After that, the remaining three favorites all experienced a down week. Denver lost to San Diego as Peyton Manning looked human with just 289 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

New Orleans once again did much to confirm the stereotype it cannot win on the road. Cincinnati did the same with a stereotype of its own, which accurately describes the young Bengals as a team that cannot get it done in important games. NBC's Rodney Harrison, via Lance McAlister of 700 WLW, put it best at halftime of the team's loss on Sunday night:

This state of despair for three of the top four contenders should excite fans, as it means the door is wide open for another team to swoop in and win it all.

 

Coming on Strong: San Francisco 49ers (10-4), New England Patriots (10-4)

TAMPA, FL -  DECEMBER 15:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers calls a play in the 4th quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The 49ers won 33 - 14.  (Photo by Al Messe
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Watch out for San Francisco, a team that has finally discovered a passing game behind the arm of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The 49ers have won four in a row, and in that span, Kaepernick has thrown for seven touchdowns and one interception. For a team that made it to the NFC Championship a year ago, a hard-nosed defense and ground attack bode well for the team from the bay.

But don't forget about Tom Brady and New England. The loss to Miami hurts, sure, but it was not out of the question for a heated divisional battle. New England is a team more than capable of getting hot thanks to Brady and his postseason experience.

 

Sleepers: Philadelphia Eagles (8-6), Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)

Nov 28, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) before the game against the Detroit Lions during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly was all the rage after he made the jump to the NFL, and he and quarterback Nick Foles have put together an offensive attack that is hard to match.

Philadelphia has won five of six, and while a laughably bad defense is an issue, Kelly and the explosive offense are more than capable of putting together a hot streak for the ages.

But please, please don't sleep on Green Bay. The record is by no means sexy, but the Packers stood tall without Aaron Rodgers and have won two straight. A 20-point fourth quarter to down Dallas on the road showed the resiliency of the team:

Add in the potential return of an MVP and Super Bowl quarterback, and the Packers are the team most poised to steal a championship from under the nose of the league.   

 

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