NFL Playoff Picture 2021-22 Week 16: Updated Standings, Matchups to Watch

Doric SamDecember 21, 2021

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 and running back Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate a touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

In Week 15, there was a ton of movement up and down the conference standings as we get into the thick of the playoff race.

The Green Bay Packers took over first place in the NFC after a gritty road win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Arizona Cardinals surprisingly lost to the Detroit Lions to fall further down the standings, opening up the door for the Dallas Cowboys to move into the second spot ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs moved into first place after losses by both the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans. Speaking of the Ravens, they fell out of the top seven and are on the outside looking in after their third straight loss.

Here's a look at how things stand as we head into Week 16.

AFC Playoff Picture

1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

2. New England Patriots (9-5)

3. Tennessee Titans (9-5)

4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)

7. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

8. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)

10. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

11. Miami Dolphins (7-7)

12. Cleveland Browns (7-7)

13. Denver Broncos (7-7)

14. New York Jets (3-11) - eliminated from playoff contention

15. Houston Texans (3-11) - eliminated from playoff contention

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) - eliminated from playoff contention

Projected 1st-Round Matchups

No. 2 New England Patriots vs. No. 7 Buffalo Bills

No. 3 Tennessee Titans vs. No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers

No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals vs. No. 5 Indianapolis Colts

NFC Playoff Picture

1. Green Bay Packers (11-3) - clinched NFC North

2. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4)

4. Arizona Cardinals (10-4)

5. Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

6. San Francisco 49ers (8-6)

7. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)

8. New Orleans Saints (7-7)

9. Washington Football Team (6-7)

10. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

11. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)

12. Seattle Seahawks (5-8)

13. Carolina Panthers (5-9)

14. New York Giants (4-10)

15. Chicago Bears (4-10)

16. Detroit Lions (2-11-1) - eliminated from playoff contention

Projected 1st-Round Matchups

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys vs. No. 7 New Orleans Saints

No. 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. No. 6 San Francisco 49ers

No. 4 Arizona Cardinals vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Rams

There's a slew of intriguing matchups in Week 16 that will have an impact on the playoff race.

The San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans kick off the week on Thursday Night Football. Both teams are trending in different directions, as the 49ers have won five of their last six games while the Titans have lost three of their last four.

This year's Christmas Day matchups feature four teams in the playoff hunt. The Packers will host the Cleveland Browns, who desperately need a win after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday. The Cardinals will look to stop their slide down the standings against the surging Indianapolis Colts.

There are a couple of important division matchups in the AFC as the Baltimore Ravens will face the Cincinnati Bengals and the Patriots will take on the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens and Bengals are looking to break a tie in the AFC North. A win for the Bills would tie them with New England atop the AFC East.

The Cowboys could enter next week's game against the Washington Football Team with the division already wrapped up. If Washington loses to the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday, Dallas would clinch the NFC East.

The Monday night game will feature two teams trying to keep their playoff hopes alive as the Miami Dolphins face the New Orleans Saints. Both teams have identical 7-7 records.

There's even a significant matchup in the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft as the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the New York Jets. If the Jaguars win, they will have the same record as the Jets and fall out of the top spot.