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NFL Playoff Picture Week 16: AFC, NFC Scenarios, Predictions for 2019 Postseason

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

El quarterback de los Ravens de Baltimore Lamar Jackson (8) durante una jugada del partido de la NFL que enfrentó a su equipo con los Jets de Nueva York, el 12 de diciembre de 2019, en Baltimore. (AP Foto/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens can set themselves up for a stress-free Week 17 by beating the Cleveland Browns in Week 16. 

The best team in the NFL needs one more victory to make the AFC's road to the Super Bowl go through M&T Bank Stadium.

Some playoff scenarios in the NFC are not that easy, as four teams go into the weekend with an 11-3 record. 

The Green Bay Packers are the only one of the four that can lock in a postseason position in Week 16 through the NFC North title. 

A few other division crowns could be handed out Saturday and Sunday depending on results involving AFC East, AFC South and NFC East franchises.  

             

NFL Standings

AFC 

Division Leaders

1. Baltimore (12-2)

2. New England (11-3)

3. Kansas City (10-4)

4. Houston (9-5) 

Wild-Card Race

5. Buffalo (10-4)

6. Pittsburgh (8-6) 

7. Tennessee (8-6) 

8. Cleveland (6-8) 

9. Oakland (6-8) 

If the Ravens avenge one of their two losses to Cleveland, they will lock into the No. 1 seed, per NFL.com's clinching scenarios

John Harbaugh's side can also secure a first-round bye through a victory since it would enter Week 17 with two more wins than the Kansas City Chiefs. 

If the Browns pull off another upset, the Ravens can still earn a top-two seed through defeats by Kansas City or the New England Patriots. 

The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds both have to lose if Baltimore falls in Cleveland for home-field advantage to be handed to the AFC North winner.

The rest of the Week 16 scenarios are simple, as the Patriots own the AFC East with a win over the Buffalo Bills. 

Tom Brady and Co. earn a first-round bye through a win or tie combined with a Kansas City loss. 

The Houston Texans will secure the AFC South with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16's opener.

A Tennessee Titans home defeat to the New Orleans Saints would also hand the division to Bill O'Brien's squad.

               

NFC

Division Leaders

1. Seattle (11-3)

2. Green Bay (11-3)

3. New Orleans (11-3) 

4. Dallas (7-7) 

Wild-Card Race

5. San Francisco (11-3)

6. Minnesota (10-4)

7. Los Angeles Rams (8-6)

Green Bay and Dallas can join New Orleans and the Seattle Seahawks as division champions with victories in their respective Week 16 contests. 

If the Minnesota Vikings defeat the Packers, or the Los Angeles Rams lose to the San Francisco 49ers, they earn a playoff berth. 

             

Postseason Predictions

Baltimore Takes Advantage Of Home Field

Gail Burton/Associated Press

Four of the last five AFC Super Bowl participants earned the No. 1 seed. Last season's Patriots were the only squad to buck that trend. 

The Ravens have already proved they can beat the best teams in the AFC, as they defeated Houston and New England by a combined 78-27 in November.

If chalk holds in the AFC bracket, the Texans and Patriots would have to visit Maryland for a second time this season. 

In those matchups, the AFC North winner gained 863 total yards, and since beating the Texans, they racked up 400 total yards on two more occasions versus the Los Angeles Rams and New York Jets. 

Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram have helped the Ravens earn triple digits on the ground in each of their 14 matchups. 

The duo should continue to roll in Week 16 versus a Cleveland defense that allowed four rushing touchdowns to Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake a week ago. 

If that occurs, Baltimore's starters may rest in Week 17 before sitting down on wild-card weekend to find out its divisional round foe. 

Kansas City is the one team that could challenge the No. 1 seed, but the Ravens' offense was not limited in the Week 4 meeting at Arrowhead Stadium, as it produced 452 total yards. 

Since conceding 530 total yards to the Chiefs, the Ravens traded for Marcus Peters and have not allowed a 300-yard passing game. 

                   

Seattle Takes Top Seed In Loaded NFC

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

Home-field advantage in the NFC also typically gives the No. 1 seed a strong chance of advancing to the Super Bowl.

In three of the last five seasons, the NFC's top seed has moved on to the championship tilt. Seattle made the Super Bowl as the top team in 2013 and 2014.

Pete Carroll's side has the inside track to home field due to a better mark against common opponents than Green Bay and a superior conference record compared to New Orleans. 

The Seahawks have won six of their last seven games, and they have plenty of experience winning close games, which is the likely result of the postseason contests. 

Each of Seattle's previous six triumphs have been by seven points or fewer, including the Week 10 overtime win over the 49ers. 

Russell Wilson is one of the few quarterbacks to solve the 49ers defense, as he helped produced 20 points in the second half and overtime to win at Levi's Stadium. 

Just like the Ravens, the Seahawks' rushing attack has been consistent all season with only one performance under 100 yards, and that occurred in Week 1. 

Defensively, Seattle has forced at least two turnovers in each of its last five contests. 

If the Seahawks continue to have a balanced offensive approach and its defense keeps forcing takeaways, they will be hard to beat on home soil.

              

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference