NFL Playoff Picture 2016: AFC, NFC Brackets, Scenarios and Championship Odds

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2016

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 38-8. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The NFL playoffs are upon us, with the AFC Wild Card Round taking place on Saturday followed by the NFC on Sunday. 

The Super Bowl favorites are sitting at home, but they will be watching closely to see who they'll play in the divisional round.

While the teams on byes probably won't admit to rooting for anyone in particular, there are a few scenarios that appear to create easier paths to the Super Bowl. 

Here's a look at the entire playoff schedule, the Super Bowl odds and a breakdown of the top contenders.


Super Bowl 50 Odds
TeamSB Odds
New England Patriots+450
Arizona Cardinals+450
Carolina Panthers+450
Seattle Seahawks+600
Denver Broncos+600
Pittsburgh Steelers+900
Kansas City Chiefs+1600
Green Bay Packers+2200
Cincinnati Bengals+2500
Minnesota Vikings+2800
Washington Redskins+4000
Houston Texans+6600

Super Bowl 50 Favorites

New England Patriots

It's rare to see a team that went 2-4 down the stretch listed among the Super Bowl favorites. 

A major factor in the New England Patriots' struggles was their health, as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Sebastian Vollmer were among the key players to miss games in December.

Gronkowski and Amendola have already returned to the lineup, with Vollmer and Edelman joining them soon, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:

Patriots' WR Julian Edelman and OT Sebastian Volmer both on track to return in time for NE's Divisional Playoff game, per sources.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 3, 2016

If the Patriots are back to full strength, they should be considered heavy favorites to win at home in the divisional round and advance to the AFC Championship Game.


Carolina Panthers

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 10:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers in action against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at CenturyLink Field on January 10, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a perfect 8-0 record at home this season, it's clear why the Carolina Panthers are listed among the favorites. 

However, it's worth noting the divisional-round scenarios don't play into their favor. 

If the red-hot Seattle Seahawks defeat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, they'll advance to play Carolina the following week. Meanwhile, the No. 2 seed Arizona Cardinals will host either the struggling Green Bay Packers or the Washington Redskins. 

The Panthers pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the Seahawks earlier this season, but it was far from an easy victory. The two-time defending NFC champs are certainly equipped to pull off the upset in Carolina.


Arizona Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 talks with head coach Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Ari
Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Cardinals find themselves in an odd position, needing to root for NFC West rivals the Seahawks for a couple of games. 

If Seattle defeats Minnesota on Sunday and upsets Carolina the following week, Arizona would then host the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.

Should the Panthers win their divisional playoff game, however, Arizona would be forced to go on the road for the NFC title showdown.

Neither presents an easy path, especially since Seattle dominated the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 17. But obviously the Cardinals would feel more comfortable staying at home throughout the NFC playoffs. 


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