NFL Playoffs 2018: Updated AFC, NFC Scenarios Before Monday Night Football

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2017

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After Week 16's Monday night action, there is only one gameweek left of the 2017 NFL regular season.

After months of grueling, heartbreaking football, the year is nearing its end. For most teams, the end of Week 17 will signal the beginning of the offseason. But for the lucky 12 teams who played their way into the playoffs, the season will have only just begun.

The NFC playoff picture is nearly set, with just the sixth seed up for grabs going into Week 17. The AFC playoff picture is much more complicated. 

Here's a look at the AFC and NFC standings, followed by the updated playoff picture for each conference going into Monday night's Week 16 games. 


AFC Standings

AFC East

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1. New England Patriots (12-3) 

2. Buffalo Bills (8-7) 

3. Miami Dolphins (6-9) 

4. New York Jets (5-10)


AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) 

2. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) 

3. Oakland Raiders (6-8) 

4. Denver Broncos (5-10) 


AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) 

2. Baltimore Ravens (9-6) 

3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) 

4. Cleveland Browns (0-15) 


AFC South 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5) 

2. Tennessee Titans (8-7) 

3. Houston Texans (4-10) 

4. Indianapolis Colts (3-12) 


NFC Standings

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-2) 

2. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)

3. Washington Redskins (7-8) 

4. New York Giants (2-13)


NFC West

1. Los Angeles Rams (11-4) 

2. Seattle Seahawks (9-6) 

3. Arizona Cardinals (7-8) 

4. San Francisco 49ers (5-10) 


NFC North

1. Minnesota Vikings (12-3) 

2. Detroit Lions (8-7) 

3. Green Bay Packers (7-8) 

4. Chicago Bears (5-10) 


NFC South 

1. New Orleans Saints (11-3) 

2. Carolina Panthers (11-4) 

3. Atlanta Falcons (9-6) 

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) 


Current AFC Playoff Bracket

1. New England Patriots (12-3, first-round bye)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3, first-round bye)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5, vs. Tennessee Titans) 

4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6, vs. Baltimore Ravens) 

5. Baltimore Ravens (9-6, vs. Kansas City Chiefs)

6. Tennessee Titans (8-7, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) 


In the Hunt

7. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

8. Buffalo Bills (8-7) 


Current NFC Playoff Bracket

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-2, first-round bye)

2. Minnesota Vikings (12-3, first-round bye) 

3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4, vs. Atlanta Falcons) 

4. New Orleans Saints (11-4, vs. Carolina Panthers)

5. Carolina Panthers (11-4, vs. New Orleans Saints) 

6. Atlanta Falcons (9-6, vs. Los Angeles Rams)


In the Hunt

7. Seattle Seahawks (9-6) 


AFC Playoff Picture

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots evades a tackles from LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

At the very least, the New England Patriots have a first-round bye. They would clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if the Houston Texans defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday, but that's not as important as playing for their playoff lives like some other teams in the AFC.

The Steelers are also in a good position, only needing one win from their final two games to secure a first-round bye.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have won the AFC South, and the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC West Sunday, so both are consequently headed for the postseason. The Baltimore Ravens have it simple: win, and you're in.

With a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17, the Ravens would guarantee their spot in the postseason, regardless of what else happens with other teams. As for the Tennessee Titans, losers of their past three games, they have to win against the Jaguars in Week 17 or hope the Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills both lose.

Speaking of the Chargers, they need to beat the Oakland Raiders, have the Titans lose and have the Ravens beat the Bengals. As for the Bills, they need to beat the Miami Dolphins in Week 17 and hope the Chargers and Titans both lose. They could also beat the Dolphins and have the Bengals beat the Ravens to secure a playoff berth.


NFC Playoff Picture

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 17:  Safety Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates stopping the Giants drive late in the fourth quarter in an NFL football game against the New York Giants on December 17, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East R
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Even without quarterback Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles are in the driver's seat in the NFC, holding the No. 1 seed. A win over the Raiders Monday guarantees them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Minnesota Vikings can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Chicago Bears in Week 17 or a Carolina Panthers loss. The Rams have won the NFC West but can't finish higher than a No. 3 seed since they lost to the Eagles and Vikings this season.

The New Orleans Saints are in the playoffs after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16 and can secure the NFC South with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their final regular-season game.

The Panthers could get a first-round bye in the playoffs if they beat the Falcons, the Saints lose and the Vikings lose to Chicago. But no matter what happens, they are already in the playoffs with a guaranteed top-five seed.

After losing to the Saints Sunday, the Falcons must beat the Panthers in Week 17 to control their fate. If they lose to Carolina, they need to hope the Seahawks lose to the Arizona Cardinals.

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