NFL Playoff Picture 2013: Updated Look at Postseason Landscape for Week 16

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 02:  Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 and free safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after defeating the New Orleans Saints 34-7 in a game at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Oodalalee! The NFL's playoff picture is still quite fuzzy as Week 16 approaches, and the final two weeks of action will be incredibly dramatic as a result. 

There are only four teams locked into the postseason at this point in the proceedings, which means half the league will be fighting over the other eight spots down the stretch.

Incredibly, even the 4-10 Jacksonville Jaguars are still not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention at this point, as noted by Bleacher Report:

With that in mind, here's a look at how both conferences stack up heading into Week 16: 

NFL Playoff Picture Heading Into Week 16
NFC
RankTeamRecord
1Seattle Seahawks12-2
2New Orleans Saints10-4
3Philadelphia Eagles8-6
4Chicago Bears8-6
5Carolina Panthers10-4
6San Francisco 49ers10-4
7Arizona Cardinals9-5
8Green Bay Packers7-6-1
9Detroit Lions7-7
10Dallas Cowboys7-7
AFC
RankTeamRecord
1Denver Broncos11-3
2New England Patriots10-4
3Cincinnati Bengals9-5
4Indianapolis Colts9-5
5Kansas City Chiefs11-3
6Baltimore Ravens8-6
7Miami Dolphins8-6
8San Diego Chargers7-7
9Pittsburgh Steelers6-8
10New York Jets6-8
NFL.com

It appears Seattle will be hosting games throughout the playoffs. With just one more win, the Seahawks will clinch the NFC West and take a 13-2 record into the final weekend. 

The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers have a pivotal matchup in Week 16 that could decide which team is the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The teams are tied with a record of 10-4, but New Orleans is ahead based on the win at home in Week 14. 

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

The San Francisco 49ers should cruise to victory at home on Monday Night Football against the hapless Atlanta Falcons for their fifth straight win. Provided there's no upset, San Francisco would improve to 11-4 and would have the inside track on the No. 5 seed, provided it won in Week 17 on the road in Arizona. 

The reason for this is that the loser of Carolina versus New Orleans would be a game behind, at 10-5.

Arizona needs help to get in as a wild-card team at 9-5, and the NFC North and NFC East are both completely up for grabs.

In the NFC East, Philadelphia and Dallas are one game apart with two left to play and a final matchup in Dallas to decide the division. Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago are all within one game of one another in the NFC North. 

Clearly, the Seahawks are the team to beat in the NFC, but things are a bit more confusing over in the AFC. 

Denver, New England and Cincinnati all lost in Week 15, meaning none of the three improved their chances of improving playoff seeding. Denver is currently the top seed, and it would appear the Broncos will coast to the finish line, but after the San Diego Chargers took them down at home, anything is clearly possible. 

New England is reeling with the loss of Rob Gronkowski, as clearly illustrated during Week 15's loss at Miami. Speaking of Miami, the Dolphins are in contention with the Baltimore Ravens for the No. 6 seed in the AFC. 

Cincinnati's embarrassing loss to Pittsburgh in Week 15 opened up the AFC North to the Ravens. At 9-5, the Bengals are still in control, but this division is notoriously difficult to secure. 

Baltimore could still get in as the No. 6 seed in the AFC, even if it doesn't win the AFC North, provided Miami, San Diego, Pittsburgh and New York fail to finish strong. 

The league's playoff picture is still a work in progress, and it won't come into full focus until the final game of the 2013 season is concluded. It's been a wild ride so far, and the best is yet to come. 

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