NFL Playoff Scenarios 2023: Reviewing Post-Week 16 AFC, NFC Picture, Bracket

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVDecember 26, 2022

NFL Playoff Scenarios 2023: Reviewing Post-Week 16 AFC, NFC Picture, Bracket

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    Justin Jefferson
    Justin JeffersonAP Photo/Paul Sancya

    Only one game remains in Week 16, and the weekend's results have shaped a dramatic NFL playoff picture.

    Coincidentally, just four teams are eliminated on both sides of the league entering Week 17. Two divisions, one in the AFC and NFC alike, are tracking for a sub.-500 winner, as well.

    On the latter side, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stayed in front of the NFC South because of Sunday night's win against the Arizona Cardinals. Tom Brady led a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives to force overtime in the desert and ultimately guided the winning possession, setting up a key clash with the Carolina Panthers next weekend.

    The last two weekends of the regular season will be a sprint to the finishβ€”or, more accurately, the playoffs.

AFC Playoff Picture

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    Tee Higgins
    Tee HigginsWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Division Leaders

    1. Buffalo Bills (12-3; clinched AFC East)
    2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-3; clinched AFC West)
    3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4; leading AFC North)
    4. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8; leading AFC South)

    Wild-Card Race

    5. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
    6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
    7. Miami Dolphins (8-7)

    In the Hunt

    8. New England Patriots (7-8)
    9. New York Jets (7-8)
    10. Tennessee Titans (7-8)
    11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
    12. Las Vegas Raiders (6-9)


    13. Cleveland Browns (6-9)
    14. Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1)
    15. Denver Broncos (4-11)
    16. Houston Texans (2-12-1)

NFC Playoff Picture

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    Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey
    Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffreyThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Division Leaders

    1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2, leading NFC East)
    2. Minnesota Vikings (12-3; clinched NFC North)
    3. San Francisco 49ers (11-4; clinched NFC West)
    4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8, leading NFC South)

    Wild-Card Race

    5. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
    6. New York Giants (8-6-1)
    7. Washington Commanders (7-7-1)

    In the Hunt

    8. Seattle Seahawks (7-8)
    9. Detroit Lions (7-8)
    10. Green Bay Packers (7-8)
    11. Carolina Panthers (6-9)
    12. New Orleans Saints (6-9)


    13. Los Angeles Rams (5-10)
    14. Atlanta Falcons (5-10)
    15. Arizona Cardinals (4-11)
    16. Chicago Bears (3-12)

Playoff Bracket

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    Trevor Lawrence
    Trevor LawrenceRich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    AFC Bracket

    Bye: Buffalo Bills

    No. 7 Miami Dolphins at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs

    No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals

    No. 5 Baltimore Ravens at No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars

    NFC Bracket

    Bye: Philadelphia Eagles

    No. 7 Washington Commanders at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings

    No. 6 New York Giants at No. 3 San Francisco 49ers

    No. 5 Dallas Cowboys at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Clings to NFC South Lead

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    Tom Brady
    Tom BradyChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are atop a mediocre NFC South, the division is nonetheless entertaining.

    A little more than three months ago, it would've been laughable to suggest the Carolina Panthers would win the NFC South. They fired Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start and soon dropped to 1-5.

    Fast-forward to Christmas Day, and the Panthers were a single result from taking the lead in the division.

    Saturday afternoon, Carolina walloped the Detroit Lions 37-23 behind a powerful rushing attack and improved to 6-9. As a result, the Bucs needed a victory at the Arizona Cardinals to stay in front. They managed to pull off a late 10-point comeback to win 19-16 in overtime.

    Tampa improved to 7-8, remaining clear of the Panthers and New Orleans Saints at 6-9. Carolina, however, previously edged both clubs and, as of today, holds the tiebreakers.

    Next up? Tampa hosts the Panthers in Week 17. Winner, in all likelihood, takes the NFC South.