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NFL Playoff Schedule 2019-20: Postseason Dates, Wild-Card Predictions and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 15:  Levi Wallace #39 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates with his defensive teammates after catching an interception in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 15, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After (nearly) 15 full weeks, the NFL playoff picture is finally coming into focus. Eight of the 12 postseason spots have been determined, and the list of playoff-eligible teams is dwindling. Monday night's matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints will add extra intrigue to the postseason race.

We'll dig into the playoff implications for Monday night's game in detail, along with some of the key playoff races heading into Week 16. We'll also examine the schedule and viewing information for the 2019-20 postseason.

First, let's take a look at the current AFC and NFC standings heading into Monday night.

*Teams that have clinched a playoff spot (+) or a division title (*) are marked.

    

AFC, NFC Standings, Pre-MNF

AFC

1. Baltimore Ravens* 12-2

2. New England Patriots+ 11-3

3. Kansas City Chiefs* 10-4

4. Houston Texans 9-5

5. Buffalo Bills+ 10-4

6. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-6

7. Tennessee Titans 8-6

8. Indianapolis Colts 6-7

9. Oakland Raiders 6-8

10. Cleveland Browns 6-8

11. Los Angeles Chargers 5-9

12. Denver Broncos 5-9

13. New York Jets 5-9

14. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-9

15. Miami Dolphins 3-11

16. Cincinnati Bengals 1-13  

NFC

1. Seattle Seahawks+ 11-3

2. Green Bay Packers+ 11-3

3. New Orleans Saints* 10-3

4. Dallas Cowboys 7-7

5. San Francisco 49ers+ 11-3

6. Minnesota Vikings 10-4

7. Los Angeles Rams 8-6

8. Chicago Bears 7-7

9. Philadelphia Eagles 7-7

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-7

11. Atlanta Falcons 5-9

12. Carolina Panthers 5-9

13. Arizona Cardinals 4-9-1

14. Detroit Lions 3-10-1

15. New York Giants 3-11

16. Washington Redskins 3-11

     

The Importance of Monday Night

Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

The Saints are still in play for a first-round bye and even the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but a loss on Monday night would severely hurt their chances with two weeks to go. Therefore, this is a big game for New Orleans.

This is an even bigger game for the Colts, who still have a shot at the AFC South title. They'll need to win their final three games, though, and finish in a three-way tie with the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans at 9-7. Obviously, that isn't going to happen if they lose on Monday.

The Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders also have a little something riding on Monday's game. Because of tiebreakers, both teams are still mathematically alive, but they need a ton of help.

Cleveland can get in if the Browns, Titans, Steelers and Colts all finish 8-8, due to tiebreakers. The Raiders can get in if they also finish 8-8 but the Browns do not. If the Colts finish below 8-8, though, Tennessee will claim the tiebreaker and the final wild-card spot in the AFC.

    

The AFC South Race

Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

The Texans took control of the AFC South by beating the Titans on Sunday. This puts the Titans in a very precarious position heading into their Week 16 matchup with New Orleans.

"It's a bitter pill to swallow," linebacker Rashaan Evans said, per NFL analyst Rivers McCown.

For the Titans to win the division, they need to go 2-0 down the stretch, which means knocking off the Saints. They also need the Texans to lose next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16, otherwise, the Week 17 Titans-Texans clash will be meaningless.

Even if Tennessee beats Houston and both teams finish 10-6, the Texans will win the division, via divisional tiebreaker.

Tennessee can also earn the AFC's final wild-card spot, but the Titans would have to win out while also getting a loss from the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Pittsburgh wins out, it will be in the postseason.

    

The NFC East Race

Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys finally beat a team with a winning record on Sunday, besting the Los Angeles Rams with a dominant 44-21 performance. If they play like they did in Week 15, the Cowboys will be a postseason threat, even if their 7-7 record would suggest otherwise.

The Cowboys have limped through much of the 2019 season. The best they can finish is 9-7, but they could still win the division at 8-8. It will all come down to a Week 16 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Like the Cowboys, Philadelphia sits at 7-7. They have to win out to take the NFC East, though, because of tiebreakers. If the Eagles win next week but both teams finish 8-8, Dallas will own the better conference record.

So, it's win-and-in for the Cowboys next week, and the winner of the NFC East will be locked into the fourth seed.

     

AFC, NFC Seeding Predictions

AFC

1. Baltimore Ravens

2. New England Patriots

3. Kansas City Chiefs

4. Houston Texans

5. Buffalo Bills

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC

1. Seattle Seahawks

2. New Orleans Saints

3. Green Bay Packers

4.Dallas Cowboys

5. San Francisco 49ers

6. Minnesota Vikings

     

2019-20 NFL Playoff Schedule

AFC and NFC Wild Card

Saturday, January 4 and Sunday, January 5

Times and TV TBD

AFC and NFC Divisional Round

Saturday, January 11 and Sunday, January 12

Times and TV TBD

AFC Championship Game

Sunday, January 19 at 3:05 p.m. ET

CBS, CBS All Access

NFC Championship Game

Sunday, January 19 at 6:40 p.m. ET

Fox, Fox Sports Go

Super Bowl LIV

Sunday, February 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET

Fox, Fox Sports Go