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NFL Playoff Scenarios 2020: Latest Bracket Picture, Vegas Odds and Predictions

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (94) warms up before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The final playoff spot in the AFC remains up for grabs with the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders still in the hunt. Week 17 of the 2019 NFL season will also settle who joins the Baltimore Ravens and enjoys a first-round bye in the American conference. 

Scenarios favor the New England Patriots after Saturday's 24-17 AFC East-clinching win over the Buffalo Bills. The Pats simply need to beat the 4-11 Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

Then it won't matter what the Kansas City Chiefs do against the Los Angeles Chargers, Patrick Mahomes and Co. will still have to settle for a place in the wild-card round, beginning on Saturday, January 4.

A win on the road against the Houston Texans in Week 17 guarantees the Titans keep hold of the sixth seed. However, defeats for the Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts could also see Mike Vrabel's team through regardless of the outcome against the Texans.

Over in the NFC, the top seed is still available to either the New Orleans Saints or San Francisco 49ers. The latter need to win on the road against division rivals the Seattle Seahawks in the final week, while the Saints need a 49ers loss.

A Seahawks win would give Seattle the NFC West title and also put the Saints in the box seat for home-field advantage in the conference.

Drew Brees and his red-hot offense could be the No. 3 seed after the final game of Week 16, Monday night's NFC North tussle between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. The Pack have a superior record in the conference, so a win over Minnesota would put them above the Saints in the bracket, however, the Vikings should win at home.

Settling the destination of the NFC East title remains on the agenda for the Philadelphia Eagles, even after Sunday's 17-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Philly needs only beat bitter rivals the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium to take the division crown and condemn the loaded but underachieving Cowboys to watching from home in January.

    

Playoff Picture Entering Week 17

AFC

  • 1st seed: Baltimore Ravens (13-2)
  • 2nd seed: New England Patriots (12-3)
  • 3rd seed: Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
  • 4th seed: Houston Texans (10-5)
  • 5th seed: Buffalo Bills (10-5)
  • 6th seed: Tennessee Titans (8-7)
  • In the Hunt: Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7), Oakland Raiders (7-8)

NFL 2019 Playoff Picture, per the league's official website.

    

NFC

  • 1st seed: San Francisco 49ers (12-3)
  • 2nd seed: New Orleans Saints (12-3)
  • 3rd seed: Green Bay Packers (11-3)
  • 4th seed: Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
  • 5th seed: Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
  • 6th seed: Minnesota Vikings (10-4)
  • In the Hunt: Dallas Cowboys (7-8)

AFC Champion Odds

  • Baltimore Ravens: -135 (bet $135 to win $100)
  • New England: +300
  • Kansas City Chiefs: +375
  • Buffalo Bills: +1300
  • Houston Texans: +1400
  • Tennessee Titans: +5000
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: +25000
  • Oakland Raiders: +50000

    

NFC Champion Odds

  • San Francisco 49ers: +180
  • New Orleans Saints: +240
  • Seattle Seahawks: +300
  • Green Bay Packers: +700
  • Minnesota Vikings: +700
  • Philadelphia Eagles: 2200
  • Dallas Cowboys: +4000

   

Super Bowl Odds

  • Baltimore Ravens: +200
  • San Francisco 49ers: +400
  • New Orleans Saints: +450
  • New England Patriots: +700
  • Seattle Seahawks: +700
  • Kansas City Chiefs: +800
  • Minnesota Vikings: +1600
  • Green Bay Packers: +2000
  • Buffalo Bills: +3500
  • Houston Texans: +3500
  • Philadelphia Eagles: +5000
  • Dallas Cowboys: +12500
  • Tennessee Titans: +12500
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: +75000
  • Oakland Raiders: +200000

Odds per Caesars

     

Predictions

The Patriots will keep the second seed and ensure a week's rest for Tom Brady's 42-year-old frame. New England's defense came up big in clutch moments against the Bills, putting pressure on Josh Allen on key plays in a goal-to-go situation.

Yet Bill Belichick will likely take more heart from the signs of life shown by his previously sputtering offense. Brady's rapport with Julian Edelman remains strong, while Rex Burkhead displayed the kind of tough, hard-nosed running the Pats used to power a Super Bowl push last season.

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41

#Bills-#Patriots — Classic NE on the game-winning drive. Use play-action passing + the power run game. Watch the LBs here. Playing the guard pull. Opens up the middle of the field. Brady to Edelman on the crosser. @NFLMatchup @MikeReiss https://t.co/TVCzDv2tMN

The Dolphins will have little answer despite some decent work by rookie head coach and former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores. He doesn't have the personnel to keep the heat on Brady and disrupt his efficiency.

Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats

Tom Brady was methodical against a formidable Bills defense, attempting just 1 deep pass on 33 attempts. Brady was 11/13, 132 yards & TD vs the blitz by getting rid of the ball faster to avoid pressure: Blitz: 2.50 sec (8% QBP) No Blitz: 2.82 sec (30% QBP) #BUFvsNE | #GoPats https://t.co/P94Zx5rBks

The Texans will likely face fifth seed the Bills in the postseason, even if DeShaun Watson leads the AFC South champions to a win over the Titans. Houston would need the Chiefs to lose to the Chargers in L.A., unlikely given KC will still play to keep the hopes of securing a bye week alive.

Kansas City's burgeoning defense flexed its muscle once again during Sunday night's 26-3 win over the Chicago Bears. Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's unit has reached an elite level just in time for the business end of the season:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The @Chiefs have held consecutive opponents without an offensive touchdown for the first time since the 2006 season. Over the last 5 games, Kansas City is allowing 9.6 PPG. That’s the fewest in the NFL over that span. https://t.co/JcfGi0mkSm

NFL Research @NFLResearch

The @Chiefs defense is beginning to match the elite play of their QB. KC has allowed an NFL-best 9.6 PPG since Week 11, and 3 points in consecutive games. This is the first time a team has allowed 3 points or fewer in consecutive games under Head Coach Andy Reid in his career.

Andy Reid will rely on his defense overwhelming the Titans in the wild-card Round and avoiding a repeat of the home defeat to the same opposition back in 2018. Tennessee would also have an additional psychological edge thanks to Week 10's 35-32 win this season.

The Saints will move into the top slot in the NFC because Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will do a number on the 49ers in Seattle. Wilson was kept under wraps by a fired-up Arizona Cardinals pass rush in Week 16, but the pocket-edition Houdini will be back to his best with the division title on the line against a San Fran defense he routinely baffled back in Week 10.

At the same time, New Orleans will roll against a Carolina Panthers team already in offseason mode. Brees and Sean Payton will also owe a debt of gratitude to the Vikings for halting the Packers' momentum on Monday night.

The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will once again go through New Orleans, affording the Saints the opportunity to make amends for last season's controversial title game loss to the Rams.

A home game will await the Eagles on Wild Card Weekend after Carson Wentz again carries an injury-hit group past an NFC East foe. Wentz was the catalyst against the Cowboys in Week 16:

Philadelphia Eagles @Eagles

Deep in the heart of South Philly #DALvsPHI | #FlyEaglesFly https://t.co/EYNAAiycd2

Even with Saquon Barkley coming off a 189-yard rushing effort during Sunday's 41-35 win over the Washington Redskins, the Giants and former Eagles assistant Pat Shurmur won't be able to do Dallas a favor.