NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Buffalo Bills take control of AFC East, four teams clinch Sunday

NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Buffalo Bills take control of AFC East, four teams clinch Sunday

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks with Week 16‘s Sunday action complete:


y – 1. Green Bay Packers (12-3), NFC North champions: They own league’s best record and remain on track to secure No. 1 seed for second straight year following Christmas win over Cleveland. It’s possible Pack wrap up home-field advantage and first-round bye in Week 17. Remaining schedule: vs. Vikings, at Lions

y – 2. Dallas Cowboys (11-4), NFC East champions: They locked up a playoff spot Thursday courtesy of San Francisco’s loss and wrapped up the division before taking the field Sunday night thanks to the strength of victory tiebreaker eliminating Philadelphia from the equation. Dallas – 5-0 against NFC East competition – still has time to reel in No. 1 seed, too. Remaining schedule: vs. Cardinals, at Eagles

x – 3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4), NFC West leaders: Sunday’s win in Minnesota and Arizona’s Christmas night loss to Colts vaults LA atop division – and also enabled Rams to wrap up their playoff spot. Week 3 win over Bucs looming as important tiebreaker. Remaining schedule: at Ravens, vs. 49ers

y – 4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4), NFC South champions: Division titlists for first time since 2007 and still in mix for No. 1 seed – especially given likelihood Bucs reach 13 wins considering remaining regular-season opponents. Remaining schedule: at Jets, vs. Panthers

x – 5. Arizona Cardinals (10-5), wild card No. 1: Another second-half collapse under Kliff Kingsbury seems to be underway, Cards having now lost three in a row and five of eight. Ironically, the Rams – the same team that’s displaced Arizona atop NFC West – put Cardinals into playoff field Sunday by beating Minnesota. Remaining schedule: at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks

6. San Francisco 49ers (8-7), wild card No. 2: Missed quite a few opportunities during Thursday’s loss in Nashville. Still, they have some margin for error courtesy of a 6-5 conference record that includes wins over the Vikings and Eagles. Remaining schedule: vs. Texans, at Rams

7. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7), wild card No. 3: Late-season charge continues as they won for the fifth time in their last six games Sunday while smoking the New York Giants. Week 11 defeat of Saints could prove a pivotal tiebreaker. Remaining schedule: at Washington, vs. Cowboys

8. New Orleans Saints (7-7), out of playoff field: COVID-depleted team badly needs win Monday night against Miami, though it won’t be enough to move them into playoff field this week. Remaining schedule: vs. Dolphins, vs. Panthers, at Falcons

9. Minnesota Vikings (7-8), out of playoff field: Debilitating loss to Rams on Sunday punted Vikes from wild-card position. Completing season sweep of Green Bay at Lambeau Field is a big ask. Remaining schedule: at Packers, vs. Bears

10. Atlanta Falcons (7-8), out of playoff field: Still hanging around after escaping Lions on Sunday. But 4-7 conference record and upcoming schedule among factors working against ATL. Remaining schedule: at Bills, vs. Saints

MORE: Chiefs, Rams, Cardinals, Buccaneers clinch NFL playoff spots in Week 16

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Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) reacts after catching a pass for a first down against the Patriots.


y – 1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4), AFC West champions: How it started? Three wins in their first seven games. How it’s going? Winners of eight in a row, the best ongoing streak in the league, and first team in conference to secure a playoff spot – Bolts’ stunning loss at Houston giving K.C. division crown for sixth consecutive season, too. Chiefs control path to home-field advantage for the third time in four seasons, but must keep lurking Titans at bay. Remaining schedule: at Bengals, at Broncos

2. Tennessee Titans (10-5), AFC South leaders: Thursday’s win over Niners moved them step closer to repeating as division champs. Week 7 blowout of Kansas City gives Titans shot at claiming No. 1 seed in coming weeks. Remaining schedule: vs. Dolphins, at Texans

3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6), AFC North leaders: After finishing sweep of Ravens in spectacular fashion, they’re now one win from securing division crown for first time since 2015. Cincy’s 7-3 record in conference games keeps them ahead of Buffalo. Remaining schedule: vs. Chiefs, at Browns

4. Buffalo Bills (9-6), AFC East leaders: If they win out – a probability given their schedule, especially in light of Sunday’s win at New England – Bills will retain division crown. Remaining schedule: vs. Falcons, vs. Jets

OPINION: Amid persistent doubt, Josh Allen rises to occasion for Bills in crucial win vs. Patriots

5. Indianapolis Colts (9-6), wild card No. 1: Winners of nine of their past 12, they must finish with a better record than the Titans, who swept Indianapolis, to snatch AFC South. But Christmas night win in Arizona makes Colts a good bet to advance. Remaining schedule: vs. Raiders, at Jaguars

6. New England Patriots (9-6), wild card No. 2: Just a few weeks ago, they were atop conference. But after surrendering first place in AFC East, they must stop bleeding. Remaining schedule: vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins

7. Baltimore Ravens (8-7), wild card No. 3: Amazingly, despite losing four in a row, the vagaries of playoff tiebreakers restore them to a conference field they led just a few weeks ago. But Baltimore will drop back out if Miami wins Monday. Remaining schedule: vs. Rams, vs. Steelers

8. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7), out of playoff field: They got hit hard by COVID-19 last week, but that’s no excuse for losing to the Texans. As damaging a loss as any team has suffered this season as Bolts lose grip on a wild-card spot. Remaining schedule: vs. Broncos, at Raiders

9. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7), out of playoff field: Sunday’s win over Broncos was huge, but Vegas needs to keep its hot hand against a hotter Indy team in Week 17 and salvage a split with Bo in Week 18. Remaining schedule: at Colts, vs. Chargers

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1), out of playoff field: They looked lifeless in Kansas City. But opportunity remains with equally comatose Cleveland and Baltimore ahead. Remaining schedule: vs. Browns, at Ravens

11. Miami Dolphins (7-7), out of playoff field: Improbable climb continues, their six-game winning streak restoring them to .500. Fins’ 5-5 record against AFC teams helps, as should facing a depleted New Orleans squad on Monday night – when a win would leapfrog them into AFC’s final wild-card spot. Remaining schedule: at Saints, at Titans, vs. Patriots

12. Cleveland Browns (7-8), out of playoff field: Only saving grace following Saturday’s loss in Green Bay is that their final two games are against AFC North rivals. Remaining schedule: at Steelers, vs. Bengals

13. Denver Broncos (7-8), out of playoff field: Tiebreakers, time and quality of opponents very much working against them after crippling losses to Cincinnati and Las Vegas. Remaining schedule: at Chargers, vs. Chiefs

x – clinched berth

y – clinched division


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL playoff picture Week 16 2021: Bills take control of AFC East


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