NFL Playoff Picture 2015: Week 16 Wild-Card Hunt, Standings and Super Bowl Odds

Mike Norris@@MikeNorrisBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2015

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 celebrates as running back Charcandrick West #35 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes for a first quarter touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

With two weeks plus a Monday Night Football game remaining in the NFL regular season, the top teams are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

The New England Patriots continued their AFC dominance after clinching a bye in the playoffs for the sixth straight year in Week 15. The Carolina Panthers moved to 14-0, and even the Houston Texans and Washington reached .500 to stop at least some of the jokes surrounding their mediocre divisions.

Let's take a look at how the AFC and NFC wild-card pictures are shaping up, overall standings heading into Week 16 and a quick glance at which teams are favored to win Super Bowl 50.

All four Wild-Card Spots Still Up in the Air 

Wild-Card Playoff Picture
No. 5Kansas City Chiefs 9-5Seattle Seahawks 9-5
No. 6Pittsburgh Steelers 9-5Minnesota Vikings 9-5
Still in the huntNew York Jets 9-5Atlanta Falcons 7-7

Only the Seattle Seahawks have wrapped up a wild-card spot with two weeks remaining, but there are only six teams still eligible for the four respective playoff spots and no seeds have been clinched.

In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets are still alive for the wild-card spots. One will be eliminated, with the Jets currently on the outside looking in. All three teams are hot, as the Steelers have won three in a row, the Jets four and the Chiefs eight.

Kansas City's streak stands alone in the history books, per ESPN Stats & Info:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Chiefs: won 8 straight games ... 1st team to win 8 straight following a 5-game losing streak (via @eliassports)

The Chiefs also host the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders the final two weeks of the season, giving them a good chance at one of the spots. However, Kansas City only trails the Denver Broncos by one game and holds the tiebreaker, which means it may not need to rely on the wild card.

Pittsburgh has the Baltimore Ravens and Browns remaining, while the Jets host New England and travel to play the Buffalo Bills.

The NFC wild-card picture is a little more clear. Seattle has a spot wrapped up, while the Atlanta Falcons trail the Minnesota Vikings by two games with two to play.

Atlanta got a much-needed victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15, but it plays the Carolina Panthers next week, which will put an end to its playoff hopes.

Even though Seattle will be a wild-card team, it's a squad nobody wants to play right now. 

Quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown 19 touchdowns and no interceptions his past five games, while Doug Baldwin has had one of the most prolific four-game stretches in NFL history for a wide receiver, per ESPN Stats & Info:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Doug Baldwin: 4th straight game with multiple TD receptions He's the 3rd player in the Super Bowl era to do so https://t.co/UPrAVAfZn8

Good luck to whichever team draws the two-time defending NFC champions, which, at the moment, is Washington.

Teams Starting to Lock Up Division Championships

2015 NFL Standings
AFC EastRecordNFC EastRecord
New England Patriots12-2Washington7-7
New York Jets9-5Philadelphia Eagles6-8
Buffalo Bills6-8New York Giants6-8
Miami Dolphins5-9Dallas Cowboys4-10
AFC NorthRecordNFC NorthRecord
Cincinnati Bengals11-3Green Bay Packers10-4
Pittsburgh Steelers9-5Minnesota Vikings9-5
Baltimore Ravens4-10Chicago Bears5-9
Cleveland Browns3-11Detroit Lions4-9
AFC SouthRecordNFC SouthRecord
Houston Texans7-7Carolina Panthers14-0
Indianapolis Colts6-8Atlanta Falcons7-7
Jacksonville Jaguars5-9Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-8
Tennessee Titans3-11New Orleans Saints5-8
AFC WestRecordNFC WestRecord
Denver Broncos10-4Arizona Cardinals12-2
Kansas City Chiefs9-5Seattle Seahawks9-5
Oakland Raiders6-8St. Louis Rams6-8
San Diego Chargers4-10San Francisco 49ers4-10

The Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Panthers have wrapped up their respective divisions, while the other five will come down to the final two weekends.

Kansas City and Denver are providing the most drama to this point. While Washington and the Houston Texans also lead their divisions by one game, the mediocrity has turned off fans.

In the AFC West, the surging Chiefs have turned a once five-game deficit into one after picking up their eighth straight victory in Week 15.

Denver is down to its second-string quarterback in Brock Osweiler, while Kansas City is using its second and third running backs but still scoring 28.2 points per game in its last five and playing better than any team in the AFC, per NFL on ESPN:


The hottest team in the AFC is the @Chiefs. They win their 8th straight at Baltimore. https://t.co/Iw8hI3Ror4

As noted earlier, the Chiefs have a great shot to win their final two games, and if they do and Denver loses one of its final two, Kansas City will have its first division championship since 2010.

The offense has been hot, but so has the defense, allowing just 12.3 points per game during the streak. Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith likes what he is seeing from his defense, per ESPN.com"They've kind of got that mojo," Smith said. "The defense, you see them kind of salivate, so to speak."

With the way they are playing, the wild card may be a distant memory for the Chiefs and belong to the Broncos once the playoffs start.

Who Will Take Super Bowl 50?

Current Super Bowl Odds for Top 10 Teams
Carolina Panthers+375
New England Patriots+375
Arizona Cardinals+550
Seattle Seahawks+600
Pittsburgh Steelers+750
Green Bay Packers+1000
Denver Broncos+1200
Kansas City Chiefs+1600
Cincinnati Bengals+220
Indianapolis Colts*+5000
Minnesota Vikings*+5000
New York Giants*+5000
New York Jets*+5000
Philadelphia Eagles*+5000
OddsShark as of Dec. 14. *Tied for 10th

The Panthers unsurprisingly are the favorites to win Super Bowl 50, but once the playoffs start, it's a new season for everyone.

In fact, even if Carolina wins out in the regular season, it means nothing in regard to the Super Bowl. Ask the 2007 Patriots how that worked out after they lost the Super Bowl with an 18-0 record.

That being said, it's going to be hard to bet against Cam Newton and the Panthers, per LaDainian Tomlinson of NFL Network:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

"It is unbelievable what the @Panthers are doing right now" - @LT_21 https://t.co/8FZH0SdWOS

Especially if they keep scoring at the same clip, per ESPN Stats & Info:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Panthers set team record for most points in season (449). Previous mark: 421 in 1999

The Patriots are always going to be a tough out, but if the injuries keep piling up for them, it could be hard to get through a grueling playoff. 

The Cincinnati Bengals might have the most overall talent, although they're currently playing without starting quarterback Andy Dalton. Arizona poses a huge threat to Carolina, but the Cards have had injuries to starting wide receivers and running backs that could hamper them.

Carolina is staying healthy and has one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Right now, the Panthers stand alone as the favorites, although Seattle is closing the gap fast with the play of Wilson, per ESPN Stats & Info:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Cam Newton & Russell Wilson have combined for the most TD passes by a QB duo in a 5-week stretch (via @EliasSports) https://t.co/ue3I8gm2vz

The road to San Francisco for Super Bowl 50 should be a fun one.