Heading into Week 16 of the 2015 NFL season, the number of teams still competing for a playoff berth is dwindling. Six of the 12 postseason spots have already been clinched, and the AFC wild-card race remains the most intriguing.
With the AFC East and AFC North titles having been clinched, four teams have a chance to land one of the two wild-card berths. The top of the conference has been very competitive this season, and there’s a chance an 11-5 team will be left out of the playoffs.
The AFC South is undecided between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, and both teams are out of the wild-card race. The AFC West might not be decided until Week 17, and the division will likely produce a wild-card winner.
The only NFC playoff spot that is up for grabs is first place in the NFC East. The 9-5 Minnesota Vikings are in the driver’s seat to clinch the second wild-card berth, and their only competition comes from the 7-7 Atlanta Falcons.
Below is a look at the current AFC wild-card picture and a few tiebreaker scenarios.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-5, No.5 seed)
If Kansas City wins out, they are guaranteed at least the No.5 seed with a chance to win the division, and they own tiebreakers over all of their competition. The Chiefs might not have much trouble winning their last two games against the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, considering they’ve won eight games in a row by at least seven points.
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5, No.6 seed)
The Steelers are the No.6 seed in the AFC, but they might have the best chance of any team to secure a wild-card berth. Not only does Pittsburgh control their own destiny, but they have the easiest upcoming schedule of any team in the playoff hunt. The Steelers visit the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, who are a combined 7-21. They would lose the tiebreaker to the Chiefs, but the Steelers own it over the Jets and Broncos, whom Pittsburgh defeated on Sunday.
New York Jets (9-5, No.7 seed)
The Jets are going to need some help if they want to make the postseason. The tiebreaker scenarios don’t favor them, and the chances of them going 2-0 and Kansas City or Pittsburgh losing a game don’t seem likely. New York has to play the New England Patriots before hosting the Buffalo Bills in Week 17.
Denver Broncos (10-4, AFC West leader)
It once looked like the Broncos might be the No.1 seed in the AFC, but now they are no guarantee to make the playoffs. Not only does Kansas City own the tiebreaker over Denver in the AFC West, but the Steelers and Jets will get in over the Broncos if all three teams are competing for a wild-card spot at 11-5. Denver hosts the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers to close out the year.