NFL Playoffs 2019-20: Updated Standings, Bracket Picture and Scenarios

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 16, 2019

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Mike McCarn/Associated Press

The NFC playoff picture experienced an unlikely shift at the end of Sunday afternoon's games.

With the San Francisco 49ers losing to the Atlanta Falcons, there are three franchises currently sitting at 11-3.

The New Orleans Saints could further complicate matters with a Monday night triumph over the Indianapolis Colts, which would create a four-way tie.

The one sure thing to come out of Sunday was playoff berths, as the 49ers, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks secured those through the Los Angeles Rams' defeat to the Dallas Cowboys.

In the AFC, the Houston Texans gained an advantage in the AFC South over the Tennessee Titans. The only way a change to the top six can be made is if the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.

                     

NFL Standings

AFC

Division Leaders

1. Baltimore (12-2)

2. New England (11-3)

3. Kansas City (10-4)

4. Houston (9-5)

The top four seeds in the AFC remained in the same order after Sunday's results.

Baltimore inched one game closer to home-field advantage Thursday by beating the New York Jets.

If the Ravens go to FirstEnergy Stadium and avenge their Week 4 loss to the Cleveland Browns, they will earn the No. 1 seed through a one-game lead and a head-to-head tiebreaker over the New England Patriots.

Even with losses to each of the other three division leaders, the Patriots are still the favorite to land the No. 2 seed and the second first-round bye.

To achieve that, head coach Bill Belichick's side needs to beat the Bills and Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in consecutive weeks.

The Kansas City Chiefs must win out and hope for the Patriots to stumble to take advantage of their head-to-head victory and capture the No. 2 seed.

With victories over the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs would lock up the No. 3 seed at minimum.

Along with the Patriots, Houston is in the top four without a division crown entering Week 16.

Head coach Bill O'Brien's side took a major step forward Sunday by beating Tennessee, but it only has a one-game lead in the AFC South with two weeks left and a Week 17 meeting with the Titans.

Before hosting the Titans, the Texans have to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday. Winning at Raymond James Stadium will not be easy against a side that is 5-1 in its last six.

                      

Wild-Card Race

5. Buffalo (9-4)

6. Pittsburgh (8-5)

7. Tennessee (8-6)

Sunday night's meeting between the Bills and Steelers will determine the direction of the AFC wild-card race.

A Buffalo victory would clinch a playoff spot because of its lead in the win column and head-to-head tiebreaker.

If head coach Mike Tomlin's team comes out on top, it would leap up to No. 5 and be in a safe position with a trip to the New York Jets upcoming in Week 16.

The real wild card in this race is the Week 17 clash between the Steelers and Ravens. By December 29, Baltimore could have home-field advantage locked up and may rest starters.

Tennessee resides in an unenviable position, as it will be on the outside looking in regardless of what occurs in Pittsburgh.

The Titans have a 6-5 AFC record, which would be one more loss than either Buffalo or Pittsburgh would posses with a loss.

Winning out may be tough for head coach Mike Vrabel's side, as it visits New Orleans on Sunday before its second clash in three weeks with Houston.

Cleveland and Oakland's slim playoff hopes were diminished with losses, and Indianapolis will be eliminated with a Monday loss to the Saints.

                     

NFC

Division Leaders

1. Seattle (11-3)

2. Green Bay (11-3)

3. New Orleans (10-3)

4. Dallas (7-7)

At least for one day, Seattle is back in control of NFC home-field advantage.

Head coach Pete Carroll's team moved back into first through its win over the Carolina Panthers and the 49ers' home loss.

The Seahawks and Packers have not played each other and both own an 8-2 NFC record, but the NFC West leader has a better winning percentage versus common opponents.

Seattle owns a 4-0 record versus Minnesota, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Carolina, while Green Bay is 2-2 with defeats to the Eagles and 49ers.

However, that order could be complicated more with a Saints victory Monday night over the Colts.

New Orleans is 8-3 in the NFC, which means Green Bay could be atop the NFC through the conference record tiebreaker. The Saints' Week 3 win over the Seahawks would knock them down to No. 3.

Seattle finishes with Arizona and San Francisco at home, and a win over the 49ers in Week 17 clinches the NFC West.

Green Bay visits Minnesota and Detroit. A Week 16 victory would lock up the NFC North title, and it could just be playing for seeding at Ford Field.

New Orleans also ends on the road with trips to Tennessee and Carolina. It already won the NFC South.

The winner of the Week 16 clash between Dallas and Philadelphia will be the front-runner for the NFC East title. The Eagles visit the New York Giants on the final day of the regular season and the Cowboys host Washington.

                    

Wild-Card Race

5. San Francisco (11-3)

6. Minnesota (10-4)

7. Los Angeles Rams (8-6)

8. Philadelphia (7-7)

Despite losing Sunday, San Francisco secured a playoff spot by way of the Rams' loss.

If the 49ers win out, they would earn the No. 1 seed through head-to-head triumphs over both Green Bay and New Orleans.

All the Vikings have to do is win once in the next two weeks against Green Bay or Chicago to secure the No. 6 seed.

The Rams are still alive, but they need to defeat the 49ers and Cardinals in back-to-back weeks and have the Vikings lose out to have hope.

Philadelphia's only path is through the NFC East title.

         

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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