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NFL Standings 2019-20: Week 16 Records, Playoff Scenarios, Wild-Card Picture

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 17, 2019

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates his touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill, which broke the NFL record for career touchdown passes, surpassing Peyton Manning, in the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The clinching scenarios for the NFC's No. 1 seed are endless. 

Four teams head into Week 16 at 11-3, with the Seattle Seahawks owning the top position at the moment. 

The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints sit second and third, while the San Francisco 49ers are in a less-than-ideal situation at No. 5 due to their second-place spot in the NFC West. 

The Week 17 clash between Seattle and San Francisco should provide some clarity, but there is still a possibility three franchises finish at 13-3. 

Over in the AFC, the process is much less complicated, as the Baltimore Ravens can lock up home-field advantage Sunday. 

With four spots already secured, the most drama will involve the AFC South title and the second wild-card spot, which currently belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

                    

NFL Standings

AFC 

Division Leaders

1. Baltimore (12-2)

2. New England (11-3)

3. Kansas City (10-4)

4. Houston (9-5) 

The AFC's road to the Super Bowl goes through M&T Bank Stadium if the Ravens defeat the Cleveland Browns Sunday. 

If John Harbaugh's team can't finish off the top spot in Week 16, it will have another chance in Week 17 versus the Steelers. 

The only way the New England Patriots can own the No. 1 seed is if they beat the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins and the Ravens lose out. 

If the Ravens and Patriots are tied on record, the AFC North winner gets home-field advantage because of its head-to-head win. 

The Kansas City Chiefs still have an outside shot at the top spot, but they would need Baltimore to lose twice and New England to suffer a defeat to enact their head-to-head tiebreaker at 12-4. 

Andy Reid's team finishes with a road trip to Chicago and a home meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers. If each of the top three sides win out, the Chiefs would remain at No. 3. 

Houston can win the AFC South in Week 16 by way of a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a Tennessee Titans defeat to New Orleans. 

If the two sides are one game apart entering Week 17, their meeting at NRG Stadium will decide the champion. 

If the Texans win out and finish with the same record as either the Patriots or Chiefs, it would see them leap ahead through head-to-head wins. 

                   

Wild-Card Race

5. Buffalo (10-4)

6. Pittsburgh (8-6) 

7. Tennessee (8-6) 

8. Cleveland (6-8) 

9. Oakland (6-8) 

Buffalo will either finish as the No. 5 seed or the AFC East champion. 

The first of those scenarios is most likely since the Bills need to beat the Patriots and have Bill Belichick's side lose again to clinch the division title. 

Pittsburgh is still slotted at No. 6 due to its superior AFC record compared to the Titans. 

Mike Tomlin's team needs to beat the New York Jets Sunday and for Baltimore to lock up home-field advantage. 

In that scenario, the Ravens could rest their starters when the two sides square off on the final day of the regular season. 

The Steelers could also earn some wiggle room if Tennessee falls to either New Orleans or Houston. 

Cleveland and Oakland have only slim chances of qualifying for the postseason, and if either Pittsburgh or Tennessee wins in Week 16, their hopes will be officially ended. 

                

NFC

Division Leaders

1. Seattle (11-3)

2. Green Bay (11-3)

3. New Orleans (11-3) 

4. Dallas (7-7) 

Seattle owns an advantage in the three-way tie atop the NFC due to a better NFC record than the Saints and more victories against common opponents than the Packers. 

With wins over the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco, the Seahawks would remain one game ahead of the NFC South winner in conference record. Seattle is 8-2 and the Saints are 8-3. 

Green Bay's defeats to the Philadelphia Eagles and 49ers put it at a disadvantage in the common opponents tiebreaker. 

The Packers have a difficult path to the No. 1 seed because they would lose out on head-to-head if they finish at 13-3 alongside the Saints and 49ers. 

Matt LaFleur's team can clinch the NFC North crown with a Monday night win over the Minnesota Vikings. 

If that occurs, two of the four division titles will be locked up entering Week 17, with Seattle and San Francisco playing for the NFC West December 29.

With a win over Philadelphia Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East. 

If the Eagles win, they would need a Week 17 victory over the New York Giants to finish off the title.

               

Wild-Card Race

5. San Francisco (11-3)

6. Minnesota (10-4)

7. Los Angeles Rams (8-6)

The NFC wild-card race is the easiest situation to figure out. 

If San Francisco loses to Seattle, it will have to go on the road in the wild-card round, despite finishing at least three games better than the NFC champion. 

Minnesota has to beat the Packers, defeat the Chicago Bears in Week 17 and hope for a Green Bay loss to the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North. 

A win over the current leader will not be enough to take the top spot since the Vikings have a worse division record. 

One loss would place Mike Zimmer's team into the No. 6 seed because it has a worse NFC record than the 49ers and lost a head-to-head meeting with Seattle. 

The Los Angeles Rams need to beat San Francisco and Arizona and for Minnesota to lose both of their matches to finish on level terms. 

In that situation, Sean McVay's squad would get in over Minnesota on a superior NFC record, but one Vikings win eliminates it from the picture. 

                  

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.