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NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022-23 Week 16: Standings and Matchups to Watch

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IV

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 18: Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) looks on during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 18, 2022 at tIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If it feels like almost all of the teams in the NFL are holding on to playoff hopes, however, slim, the feeling isn't wrong. Heading down the stretch, a number of clubs remain in the running for the postseason, while positioning remains in flux.

Below, we'll break down the current standings and playoff implications of every matchup this week.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

AFC and NFC playoff scenarios for Week 16: <a href="https://t.co/jSjMb0FjpZ">pic.twitter.com/jSjMb0FjpZ</a>


AFC

1. Buffalo Bills, 11-3* (Wins tiebreaker over KC based on head-to-head win percentage.)

2. Kansas City Chiefs, 11-3**

3. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-4

4. Tennessee Titans, 7-7

5. Baltimore Ravens, 9-5

6. Los Angeles Chargers, 8-6 (Wins tiebreaker over MIA based on head-to-head win percentage.)

7. Miami Dolphins, 8-6

8. New England Patriots, 7-7 (Wins tiebreaker over NYJ based on head-to-head win percentage.)

9. New York Jets, 7-7

10. Jacksonville Jaguars, 6-8 (Wins tiebreaker over CLE and LV based on best win percentage in conference games. Division tiebreak was initially used to eliminate PIT.)

11. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-8 (Wins tiebreaker over CLE based on best win percentage in conference games. Division tiebreak was initially used to eliminate PIT.)

12. Cleveland Browns, 6-8 (Wins tiebreaker over PIT based on head-to-head win percentage.)

13. Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-8

14. Indianapolis Colts, 4-9-1

15. Denver Broncos, 4-10 (eliminated)

16. Houston Texans, 1-12-1 (eliminated)


NFC

1. Philadelphia Eagles, 13-1*

2. Minnesota Vikings, 11-3**

3. San Francisco 49ers, 10-4**

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6-8

5. Dallas Cowboys, 10-4*

6. New York Giants, 8-5-1

7. Washington Commanders, 7-6-1

8. Seattle Seahawks, 7-7 (Wins tiebreaker over DET based on head-to-head win percentage.)

9. Detroit Lions, 7-7

10. Green Bay Packers, 6-8

11. Carolina Panthers, 5-9 (Wins tiebreaker over NO based on head-to-head win percentage. Wins tiebreaker over ATL based on head-to-head win percentage.)

12. New Orleans Saints, 5-9 (Wins tiebreaker over ATL based on head-to-head win percentage.)

13. Atlanta Falcons, 5-9

14. Los Angeles Rams, 4-10 (eliminated)

15. Arizona Cardinals, 4-10 (eliminated)

16. Chicago Bears, 3-11 (eliminated)


* Clinched playoff berth

** Clinched playoff berth and division crown


The first game of the week on Thursday night will have pretty major playoff implications, with both the Jets and Jaguars looking to keep their postseason hopes alive. The loser will be in serious trouble, especially the Jags.

Saturday's early slate will contain plenty of intriguing matchups:

  • The Bills will look to stay atop the AFC standings against the lowly Bears. 
  • The Saints and Browns will battle to keep their postseason hopes alive. 
  • Tennessee can't get complacent against Houston, with the Jaguars nipping on their heels. 
  • The Seahawks can't afford to drop games as they look to get back into playoff position, but a tough matchup against a Chiefs team trying to steal the top spot in the AFC looms. 
  • Both the Giants and Vikings are jockeying for NFC postseason position, making their matchup intriguing. 
  • Sunday's shocking loss moved the Patriots out of a playoff spot, making the upcoming matchup with the Bengals enormous. 
  • Both the Panthers and Lions, somewhat astonishingly, have battled back into playoff consideration. The loser will see those hopes potentially dashed for good.
  • The Ravens are trying to catch up to the Bengals in the AFC North, while the Falcons still have a legit shot to win the NFC South.

The afternoon slate holds two huge matchups: Washington and San Francisco fighting for playoff positioning, and the Eagles looking to clinch the NFC East when they face the Cowboys, though Philadelphia might have to do so without quarterback Jalen Hurts, who sprained his shoulder in Week 15.

Saturday night's matchup between the Raiders and Steelers will feature two teams trying to worm their way back into wild-card contention.

And then there are the Christmas showdowns. Miami will look to keep its hold on a wild-card slot against the Packers, while the Bucs look to hold onto their tenuous hold on the NFC South in a matchup against the Cardinals. The Broncos vs. Rams will be the week's only game between teams eliminated from playoff contention.

Finally, Monday night's matchup between the Chargers and Colts will be key for an L.A. team looking to stay locked into a wild-card spot.