NFL Playoff Scenarios: Updated 2012 Postseason Picture, Key Week 16 Match Ups

on December 18 2012 10:30 AM
NFL Playoff Scenarios: Updated 2012 Postseason Picture, Key Week 16 Match Ups
Peyton Manning and the Broncos blowout win over Baltimore launched them to the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Reuters

Some thrilling and stunning games led to a major shake up in the NFC playoff picture, while the AFC has just two spots remaining after Week 15.

The Green Bay Packers became the second NFC team to lock down their division, and the San Francisco 49ers avoided a huge collapse before clinching their second straight trip the playoffs.

The Denver Broncos moved up a slot to the No. 2 seed by blowing out the Baltimore Ravens, coupled with the New England Patriots' loss to the 49ers. The Ravens still clinched when the Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the Dallas Cowboys.

But the biggest moves came from the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings, who ripped off impressive wins to knock the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants out if the playoffs started today.

Below is each team currently in contention, and where they stand after Week 15.

 

AFC

Houston Texans (12-2): They handled Luck and the Colts throughout Sunday’s matchup and took possession of the AFC South and their second straight playoff berth. Two more wins, or one win and a Denver loss in Week 16 and Houston clinches home-field throughout.

Denver Broncos (11-3): Originally looking to lockdown the No. 3 seed, Denver manhandled Baltimore, and New England’s loss moved them to a first-round bye. If they win out Peyton Manning and the Broncos get a week off to prepare and rest for a Mile High home game.

New England Patriots (10-4): New England can still host one postseason game just by winning out, and no wants to hit the road against a squad that put up 28 points in less than a quarter against one of the NFL’s best defenses in San Francisco.

Baltimore Ravens (9-5): They clinched a spot with Pittsburgh falling, but can’t move up  unless New England trips up. But the Ravens still haven’t won the AFC North, and Cincinnati is within striking distance.

Indianapolis Colts (9-5): Their hopes for the division have vanished, but a shot at the postseason is still likely if they can takedown the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-6): They didn’t play down to Philadelphia, and the Steelers loss puts them in line for a wild card spot. Win out and they could move as high as the AFC North champ and the No. 4 spot, if Baltimore drops its final two games. A win over Pittsburgh in Week 16, and they can knock their division rival out off the picture.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7): Roethlisberger had never lost two games in a row, but Pittsburgh has now dropped four of their last five. Week 16’s game against Cincinnati will decide their playoff fate.

 

NFC

Atlanta Falcons (12-2): Atlanta may have overcome some personal demons in its 34-0 beatdown of the Giants, but still need to keep up the pressure until San Francisco drops one more. 

San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1): The 49ers beat the hottest team in football and clinched a playoff berth. But Sunday’s matchup against Seattle could be the decider for the NFC West and a home playoff game.

Green Bay Packers (10-4): The Packers own the NFC North, and more than likely the No. 3 seed. Should they win out and the 49ers lose one more, they can earn a first round bye.

Washington Redskins (8-6): Even without RG3, the Redskins rocketed up three spots and currently own the NFC East. If they win out, they take the division and host a playoff game.

Seattle Seahawks (9-5): Seattle smashed the Bills, and should hold on to the fifth or sixth seed even if they split their last two. They can still win the NFC West, but need to beat San Francisco, and hope the 49ers also lose to Arizona.

Minnesota Vikings (8-6): Adrian Peterson’s amazing runs have Minnesota poised for the playoffs, but their remaining schedule is not easy. They currently own the tiebreaker over Chicago due to a better overall division record, but are at Houston and host Green Bay in the final two weeks.

Chicago Bears (8-6): Chicago can catch the Vikings by beating Detroit and Arizona in their last two, but need Minnesota to at least split. They could catch Seattle, but must win out and need the Seahawks to lose their last two.

Dallas Cowboys (8-6): Dallas is behind Minnesota due to their record in conference games, and the Bears hold the advantage after beating the Cowboys in Week 4. Their best shot is to win the NFC East. A win this Sunday against New Orleans, assuming Washington also wins, essentially sets up the division title game at Washington.

New York Giants (8-6): It was the worst time to be blown out by 34 points.The Giants 2-3 division record puts them third in line for the NFC East title. But they do have the easier final two games, at the reeling Ravens, and a home matchup against the 2013 draft minded Philadelphia Eagles.

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