The NFL playoff picture is coming into focus as the 2012 season nears its end.
All of the six playoff spots in the AFC were secured as of Sunday’s games, but playoff seeding is still to be determined in Week 17. As for the NFC, four of the six playoff berths are locked up, with five teams in the mix to make the postseason.
The Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are all battling for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Houston has the easiest scenario to attain that goal: A win would clinch home-field advantage for the Texans, according to the NFL playoff picture posted on CBS Sports.
The Broncos and Patriots both need wins as well as help from other teams to win home-field advantage. A Broncos win coupled with a Houston loss or tie or a Broncos tie paired with a Texans loss gives Denver home-field advantage. New England’s scenario is tougher, as the Patriots need a win and for the Broncos and Texans to lose.
As with home-field advantage, the Texans also have the easiest road to a first-round playoff bye. A Houston win or tie on Sunday or either a New England loss or tie or a Denver loss would give the Texans a first-round bye.
Both the Broncos and Patriots have two scenarios that would give them a bye. A Denver win or tie would clinch a first-round bye for the Broncos, as would a New England loss or tie. The Patriots need a win and either a Denver loss or a Houston loss.
Home-field advantage in the NFC is already wrapped up after the Atlanta Falcons won Thursday night. But there are still two NFC division crowns to be settled along with first-round byes.
The Green Bay Packers, winners of the NFC North division, have the most scenarios to earn a first-round bye. A win would clinch it, as would a tie and a San Francisco 49ers loss. So would a 49ers loss and a Seattle Seahawks loss or tie.
The 49ers need a win and a Green Bay loss or tie, or a tie and a Green Bay loss.
San Francisco is still battling Seattle for the NFC West after the Seahawks defeated the 49ers on Sunday. San Francisco can win the division with a win or tie, or a Seattle loss or tie.
Seattle need a win and help in the form of a San Francisco loss to win the division. Seattle, which already clinched a playoff spot, can earn a first-round bye with a win on Sunday along with losses by the 49ers and Packers.
The NFC East champion will be crowned Sunday when the Washington Redskins take on the Dallas Cowboys. The winner of that game will clinch the NFC East. Dallas needs to win to make the playoffs while Washington can still be in the postseason with a loss, although they’ll need help.
Washington can earn a playoff berth if both the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings lose.
The New York Giants, who are in danger of missing the playoffs after losing their last two games, need a win and a lot of help to defend their 2011 Super Bowl crown.
New York needs to win along with a Dallas loss or tie and losses by Chicago and Minnesota.
The Vikings are another playoff contender. If they win Sunday, they’re in the postseason. They have two other scenarios: a tie and a Chicago loss; or a Dallas loss or tie, New York loss or tie and a Chicago loss.
Despite a hot 7-1 start to the season, the Bears are in danger of missing the playoffs. But Chicago still has a chance to make the postseason. The Bears need a win and a Vikings loss or tie. They’ll also compete for the Super Bowl if they tie on Sunday and Minnesota loses.