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NFL Standings 2014-15: Results, Playoff Picture and Scenarios After Week 16

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2014

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

With the Philadelphia Eagles' surprising loss to Washington on Saturday, clarity was finally cast upon the NFC playoff picture. The AFC? That's a question that will be better answered following Week 17. 

Sunday's action only proved to muddy the picture further in the AFC, with multiple teams above .500 jostling for position heading into the season's final week.

On Saturday, the San Diego Chargers kept themselves alive with a three-touchdown comeback from the dead-on-arrival San Francisco 49ers, while the AFC North is a complicated riddle yet to be solved.

The Pittsburgh Steelers clinched a playoff berth after a win against Kansas City. The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, shot themselves in the foot with a dispiriting loss to the Houston Texans, who were forced to start Case Keenum at quarterback due to injuries. 

While there are still some positions left to be filled, this week has helped pare down the field. The Eagles' loss in Washington eliminated them from contention, Kansas City and Baltimore both have work to do and Detroit further solidified its playoff status.

But as much as some things changed, others stayed the same. The New England Patriots are the top seed in the AFC and clinched home-field advantage after the Denver Broncos' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.

To cap off Sunday's action, the Seattle Seahawks looked as strong as ever in their Super Bowl defense, dominating the Arizona Cardinals 35-6 on the road to ascend to No. 1 in the NFC.

Let's take a quick look at the updated playoff picture, courtesy of the NFL's official press release, and assess how everything should shake out.

Week 17 AFC Scenarios

Broncos clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Denver win vs. Oakland OR
  2. Denver tie vs. Oakland + Cincinnati loss or tie vs. Pittsburgh OR
  3. Cincinnati loss OR
  4. Cincinnati tie + Indianapolis win vs. Tennessee

Bengals clinch AFC North with:

  1. Cincinnati win vs. Pittsburgh

Bengals clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Cincinnati win + Denver loss or tie OR
  2. Cincinnati tie + losses by both Denver and Indianapolis

Steelers clinch AFC North with:

  1. Pittsburgh win vs. Cincinnati

Chargers clinch playoff spot with:

  1. San Diego win vs. Kansas City OR
  2. San Diego tie + Baltimore loss or tie vs. Cleveland

Ravens clinch playoff spot with:

  1. Baltimore win + San Diego loss or tie OR
  2. Baltimore tie + San Diego loss

Chiefs clinch playoff spot with:

  1. Kansas City win + loss by Baltimore + loss or tie by Houston

Texans clinch playoff spot with:

  1. Houston win + losses by both Baltimore and San Diego

Week 17 NFC Scenarios

Cowboys clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC with:

  1. Dallas win + loss or tie by Arizona vs. San Francisco + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie OR
  2. Dallas win + win by Seattle vs. St. Louis + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Cowboys clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Dallas win + loss or tie by both Seattle and Arizona OR
  2. Dallas win + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie OR
  3. Seattle and Arizona both lose OR
  4. Dallas and Seattle both tie + Arizona loses or ties + Detroit vs. Green Bay does not end in a tie

Lions clinch NFC North with:

  1. Lions win or tie

Lions clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Lions win + Seattle loss or tie + Arizona loss or tie OR
  2. Detroit tie + losses by both Seattle and Arizona + Dallas loses or ties

Lions clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Detroit win OR
  2. Detroit tie + Dallas loss or tie OR
  3. Detroit tie + both Arizona and Seattle lose

Packers Clinch NFC North and first-round bye with:

  1. Green Bay win

Packers clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Green Bay win + loss or tie by Seattle

Seahawks clinch NFC West with:

  1. Seattle win OR
  2. Seattle tie + loss or tie by Arizona OR
  3. Arizona loss

Seahawks clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Seattle win + Detroit vs. Green Bay does not end in tie OR
  2. Seattle win + Dallas loss or tie OR
  3. Seattle tie + losses or ties by both Arizona and Dallas + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Seahawks clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Seattle win OR
  2. Seattle tie + Arizona loss or tie + Dallas loss OR
  3. Seattle tie + Arizona loss or tie + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Cardinals clinch NFC West with:

  1. Arizona win + Seattle loss or tie OR
  2. Arizona tie + Seattle loss

Cardinals clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Arizona win + Seattle and Green Bay both lose or tie OR
  2. Arizona tie + Seattle loss + Dallas loss or tie + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Cardinals clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Arizona win + Seattle loss or tie OR
  2. Arizona tie + Seattle loss + Dallas loss or tie OR
  3. Arizona tie + Seattle loss + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Panthers clinch NFC South with:

  1. Carolina win or tie vs. Atlanta

Falcons clinch NFC South with:

  1. Atlanta win


Patriots Clinch AFC No. 1 Seed

Week 16 NFL Results
Jacksonville 21, Tennessee 13
Washington 27, Philadelphia 24
San Diego 38, San Francisco 35
Miami 37, Minnesota 35
Houston 25, Baltimore 13
Detroit 20, Chicago 14
Carolina 17, Cleveland 13
Atlanta 30, New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20, Tampa Bay 3
Pittsburgh 20, Kansas City 12
New England 17, NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37, St. Louis 27
Oakland 26, Buffalo 24
Dallas 42, Indianapolis 7
Seattle 35, Arizona 6
Cincinnati 37, Denver 28
ESPN.com

In a game that felt over before the opening kickoff but proved anything but, the Patriots continued their run of AFC dominance with a 17-16 win over the Jets. Tom Brady was held to 182 yards, but the New England defense thwarted the anemic Jets offense in what could be the final battle between Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan.

The Patriots have not lost a home game since their 2012 conference title loss to Baltimore. 

AFC North Crown at Stake in Week 17

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 21:  Running back Jonas Gray #35 of the New England Patriots spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford,
Al Bello/Getty Images


Pittsburgh earned its third straight victory by taking down the Chiefs to secure a playoff berth, while Cincinnati clinched a spot against the Broncos. In Week 17, the division crown will be on the line between the Steelers and Bengals.

The continued successes of their division foes is bad news for Baltimore, which needs help to slide into a playoff spot. The Ravens, owners of a shaky 5-6 conference record, lost both of their games to Cincinnati and would lose either the divisional or conference tiebreaker to Pittsburgh. Their best-case scenario involves winning out and getting a road playoff game—a frustrating blow for a (potential) 10-6 team that has the best point differential in the division.

The Ravens will also spend their week hearing renewed questions about quarterback Joe Flacco, who had a miserable outing amid constant Houston pressure. Flacco's three interceptions dug a grave for the Ravens from which they could not escape. While he has been much better in 2014 than his miserable 2013 campaign, this will do little to quell the never-ending questions about his elite status. 

It's debatable whether the AFC North is the best division in football, but it's certainly the most exciting down the stretch.

NFC South Is, Umm, Still Not Good

Don Wright/Associated Press

Exciting might be the last term anyone would use to describe the NFC South. It is, however, going to come down to a semi-exciting finish. The Saints' latest collapse came in the form of a 30-14 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, eliminating them from playoff contention hours after they controlled their own destiny.

Atlanta and Carolina will play next week for the division crown. The Falcons are 4-3 since their five-game losing streak earlier this season and have mostly returned to form offensively. Their defense is still a liability on most afternoons, but they sacked Drew Brees five times and picked him off twice Sunday. 

The Panthers, meanwhile, have won three straight after a six-game losing spell of their own. Cam Newton returned from a one-week absence to throw for 201 yards and rush for 63 more, scoring two touchdowns in Carolina's 17-13 win over Cleveland.

Whereas the Falcons' run has been sparked by an offensive uptick, the Panthers are back to playing top-level defense. They have held their opponents to 13.3 points per game over the three-game winning streak. Two of those opponents were Tampa Bay and Cleveland—not exactly prolific offenses—but holding the Saints to 10 points is a sign this might not be an aberration.

The final answer will be provided next week at the Georgia Dome, where for the first time since 2010, a losing team will clinch a playoff berth.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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