NFL Playoff Picture 2019: AFC, NFC Team Records, Postseason Outlook Post Week 16

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 22:  Justice Hill #43 of the Baltimore Ravens runs for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore defeated Cleveland 31-15. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The AFC's path to the Super Bowl will go through M&T Bank Stadium.

For the first time in franchise history, the Baltimore Ravens enter the postseason as the No. 1 seed in their conference. 

John Harbaugh's team is one of five squads locked into the AFC playoff field, with only the No. 6 seed left to be determined. 

The top of the NFC playoff picture is not as clear, as three teams can enter Week 17 with a shot at earning home-field advantage. 

                  

NFL Standings

AFC

Division Leaders

1. Baltimore (13-2, clinched AFC North)

2. New England (12-3, clinched AFC East) 

3. Kansas City (11-4, clinched AFC West)

4. Houston (10-5, clinched AFC South

Wild-Card

5. Buffalo (10-5, clinched playoff berth)

6. Tennessee (8-7) 

7. Pittsburgh (8-7) 

8. Oakland (7-8) 

For a good chunk of the first half, Baltimore faced the reality that it may have to play for something in Week 17. 

Ron Schwane/Associated Press

However, the Ravens turned things around and locked up the No. 1 seed by way of a 31-15 victory over the Cleveland Browns. 

Lamar Jackson and Co. are one game ahead of the New England Patriots, but their head-to-head win from Week 9 ensured a few weeks of rest. 

The Patriots can finish off a first-round bye through a Week 17 home triumph over the Miami Dolphins.

Bill Belichick's side has passed every AFC East test in 2019 and is one of three teams with a perfect divisional record. 

New England needs to stay one game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs to avoid dropping into the wild-card round. 

The AFC West champion needs to complete its season sweep of the Los Angeles Chargers to land the third seed at minimum. 

Bill O'Brien's squad secured the AFC South title with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and if it finishes with the same mark as the Chiefs, it would earn the better seed through a Week 6 victory. 

Whichever team lands in the No. 4 spot will host the Buffalo Bills, who possess a two-game lead in the AFC wild-card standings. 

At the moment, the Titans own the No. 6 seed on the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

If Ryan Tannehill and Co. avenge their Week 15 loss to the Texans, they will lock up the AFC's final playoff spot. 

A loss at NRG Stadium allows the Steelers to have a direct path to the spot by way of a win at Baltimore. 

If both the Titans and Steelers lose, the Oakland Raiders can sneak in through a victory over the Denver Broncos, an Indianapolis Colts win against the Jacksonville Jaguars and a Cleveland triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals. 

                       

NFC 

Division Leaders

1. San Francisco (12-3, clinched playoff berth)

2. New Orleans (12-3, clinched NFC South)

3. Green Bay (11-3, clinched playoff berth

4. Philadelphia (8-7) 

Wild-Card 

5. Seattle (11-4, clinched playoff berth

6. Minnesota (10-4, clinched playoff berth

After the Seattle Seahawks suffered a surprising defeat to the Arizona Cardinals at home, the San Francisco 49ers moved into a one-game lead in the NFC West. 

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Kyle Shanahan's team is the No. 1 seed entering Week 17 through its head-to-head victories over the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. 

If the 49ers win the final game of the regular season at CenturyLink Field over the Seahawks, they would have home-field advantage in the NFC. 

If Pete Carroll's team rebounds from the Week 16 defeat to beat San Francisco for the second time, it would land the divisional crown and relegate the 49ers down to the No. 5 seed. 

Whichever squad lands in second place of the NFC West will head across the nation to face the NFC East champion. 

Philadelphia's win over Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field pushed it into the driver's seat for the title. All it needs is a victory over the New York Giants to clinch the NFC East. 

If the Eagles slip up at MetLife Stadium and Dallas beats the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys would earn the title at 8-8. 

Green Bay can move into the three-way tie at 12-3 by beating the Minnesota Vikings Monday night, a win that would lock up the NFC North. 

The Vikings are already into the playoffs after the Los Angeles Rams were eliminated through their Saturday loss to the 49ers. 

New Orleans owns the NFC South title and it needs a win over the Carolina Panthers to finish off the regular season at 13-3, which would give it the best chance to earn a first-round bye. 

               

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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