NFL Playoff Picture 2016: Updated AFC, NFC Standings, Super Bowl Odds and More

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistDecember 28, 2015

New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) jumps on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) after the two connected for a touchdown for a win in the overtime period of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 26-20. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The NFL made less sense than ever on Sunday, but a wild Week 16 nearly completed the playoff picture.

A stunning Sunday started with each conference's No. 1 seed losing to a division rival. While the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers remain atop of their respective conferences, they now must wait to wrap up home-field advantage.

Neither loss proved as astronomical as the Pittsburgh Steelers' surprising road meltdown against the Baltimore Ravens. After losing to their banged-up rivals, the dangerous title contender nobody wants to encounter suddenly needs a win and help just to earn a postseason ticket.

Here's a look at the updated playoff picture after Sunday and the latest Super Bowl odds, courtesy of Odds Shark

Odds to Win 2016 Super Bowl
Arizona Cardinals3-1
New England Patriots15-4
Carolina Panthers5-1
Seattle Seahawks6-1
Pittsburgh Steelers8-1
Cincinnati Bengals12-1
Denver Broncos12-1
Kansas City Chiefs12-1
Green Bay Packers20-1
New York Jets25-1
Minnesota Vikings40-1
Washington Redskins40-1
Houston Texans50-1
Odds Shark


AFC Playoff Standings
SeedTeamRecordNext OPP
1New England Patriots - Y12-3at MIA
2Cincinnati Bengals - Y11-3@ DEN (Mon.)
3Denver Broncos10-4vs. CIN (Mon.)
4Houston Texans8-7vs. JAX
5Kansas City Chiefs - X10-5vs. OAK
6New York Jets10-5at BUF
In the HuntTeamRecordNext OPP
Pittsburgh Steelers9-6at CLE
Indianapolis Colts7-8vs. TEN
NFL.com; X=clinched playoff berth; Y=clinched division

Despite entering Week 16 as the odd team out, the Steelers had a clear path to the wild card: beat a Baltimore squad without Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith Sr., Terrell Suggs and others while the Patriots best the New York Jets.

Instead, Pittsburgh suffered a 20-17 loss mired by no passing touchdowns and two picks from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Averaging 336.9 passing yards per game before Sunday, he amassed 216 yards through the air—his lowest tally through a full game this season.

Meanwhile, the Jets extended their winning streak to five with a 26-20 overtime win over the Patriots. Behind another strong outing from Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets outgained the AFC East champions by 144 total yards. They weren't gifted a victory, but everyone will tell a different story because of New England's dubious decision to defer the opening overtime possession.

Although certainly unintentional, the Patriots pushed the Steelers into desperation mode. As noted by NFL Network's Brian Billick, the top seed wouldn't lose any sleep over jettisoning one of the league's premier offenses:

Brian Billick @CoachBillick

By losing to the #Jets, the #Pats may have helped keep the #Steelers out of the postseason. Something they aren't going to be upset about.

After Sunday's events, they wouldn't love seeing the Jets in January either. Their top-tier passing defense limited Tom Brady to 231 yards, a touchdown and a pick while wideouts Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker combined for three receiving touchdowns. 

A Week 17 win over the Buffalo Bills will cement New York's wild-card spot alongside the Kansas City Chiefs, who clinched a berth by topping the Cleveland Browns. As every other division leader outside of New England deals with an injured starting quarterback, the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds are poised to do damage.


NFC Playoff Standings
SeedTeamRecordWK 17 OPP
1Carolina Panthers - Y14-1vs. TB
2Arizona Cardinals - Y13-2vs. SEA
3Minnesota Vikings - X10-5at GB
4Washington Redskins - Y8-7at DAL
5Green Bay Packers - X10-5vs. MIN
6Seattle Seahawks - X9-6at ARI
NFL.com; X=clinched playoff berth; Y=clinched division

At least the NFC East race is over.

After a full season of ugly uncertainty, Washington seized control by winning six of its last nine games. The last of which, a 38-24 pounding over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night, wrapped up the dim division and the No. 4 seed.

The stretch began with a late 31-30 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which spawned Kirk Cousins' infamous "You like that" soundbite. Facing soft defenses such as Philadelphia, the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants have helped his cause more than yelling nonsense, but the quarterback is nevertheless enjoying an explosive tear.

ESPN Stats and Info highlighted his remarkable turnaround:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Kirk Cousins last 9 games: 19 TD passes, 3 interceptions (had 6 TD, 8 Int in first 6 games)

Not mentioned above, he reached 300 passing yards in all six victories. During his first full season as Washington's starter, Cousins also carries a league-best 69.5 completion percentage.

“This is the most satisfied I’ve been as a football player,” Cousins told the Washington Times' Anthony Gulizia. “It’s a big accomplishment, and now the key is to build from here.”

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Ever since Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went down in September, it seemed feasible for a 7-9 team to take the NFC East. Credit the Redskins for catching fire and at least assuring an even record. Their red-hot offense will now get a playoff game at home, where they're 6-2. 

Then again, they're still 8-7 and brandishing a minus-two point differential. They'll finish the season without beating anyone with a winning record, and they didn't come close to knocking off their toughest challengers:

Washington vs. Teams w/ Winning Records
WeekOPPOPP RecordScore
5@ ATL8-725-19 L (OT)
6@ NYJ10-534-20 L
9@ NE12-327-10 L
11@ CAR14-144-16 L

On Sunday morning, they were slated for a Wild Card Weekend matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Think Washington is rolling? Seattle had picked up five straight victories while averaging 34.2 points per game behind a red-hot Russell Wilson.

The St. Louis Rams, however, once again proved Seattle's kryptonite. A 23-17 loss to the pesky NFC West rival downgrades the Seahawks to the No. 6 seed. If they lose to the Arizona Cardinals—who demolished the Green Bay Packers in Week 16—Washington will get the loser of Week 17's NFC North title match between the Packers and Minnesota Vikings. 

Washington defied the odds by following a last-place finish with a first-place crown. Don't expect any miracles, but the NFC looks less scary after witnessing Carolina, Seattle and Green Bay all crumble on the same day.