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2015-2016 AFC Playoff seeding after Week 16: Bengals fall behind Broncos in standings

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The Broncos passed the Bengals in the AFC standings and could still win the No. 1 seed if the Patriots falter in Week 17.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

While there's still a lot to be decided, the 2015-16 NFL playoff picture is almost complete.

The Cincinnati Bengals are now likely not getting a first-round bye after losing to the Denver Broncos on Monday night. As expected, the two AFC contenders fought tooth and nail down to the wire, but it was Denver who came out on top in overtime.

That gives them a head-to-head win over Cincinnati in the race for the AFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. It also keeps the Broncos in the race for the top seed if they can beat the San Diego Chargers in Week 17, and the New England Patriots lose to the Miami Dolphins.

As for the Bengals, they still have a shot at the No. 2 seed, but only if they beat the Baltimore Ravens and Denver loses to San Diego. At this point, it's very likely either the No. 2 or 3 seed goes to the Bengals since the Chargers are only 3-12 and have more to gain by losing than winning in Denver. They also added a handful of players to Injured/Reserve after Week 16, further diminishing their chances of winning in Week 17 on the road.

Then again, a rivalry can bring the best out of teams. Just look at what the Baltimore Ravens did Sunday. They entered Week 16 with a 4-10 record and a great shot at a top-three pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

But to them, a rivalry matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers was far more important than a high draft pick. That, combined with the Steelers clearly overlooking them, led to Baltimore pulling off the biggest upset of the season by knocking off the Steelers and possibly ending their playoff hopes.

Can the Chargers do the same to the Broncos? Being that the game is in Denver and they still have to win just to clinch the AFC West, I doubt they'll overlook the Chargers, but you never know.

If the Bengals end up being the No. 3 seed, the Jets are the most likely opponent after they beat the Patriots at home in Week 16. That, combined with a Steelers loss, put New York ahead of Pittsburgh in the playoff standings by one game. However, if those two finish with the same record, Pittsburgh will pass New York in the playoff standings based on having a better Strength of Schedule, Strength of Victory and better record against common opponents.

Here's the current AFC standings heading into Week 17:

W

L

T

PCT

DIV

CONF

SOS

SOV

REASON

1* - Patriots

12

3

0

.800

4-1

9-2

.471

.439

AFC East Champ

2x - Broncos

11

4

0

.733

4-1

7-4

.520

.509

AFC West Champ

3z - Bengals

11

4

0

.733

4-1

8-3

.484

.412

AFC North Champ

4 - Texans

8

7

0

.533

4-1

6-5

.507

.425

AFC South Champ

5x - Chiefs

10

5

0

.667

4-1

9-2

.498

.427

Wins tie break over NY Jets based on best win percentage in conference games.

6 - Jets

10

5

0

.667

3-2

7-4

.436

.387

--

7 - Steelers

9

6

0

.600

2-3

6-5

.532

.496

--

8 - Raiders

7

8

0

.467

3-2

7-4

.498

.381

Wins tie break over Buffalo and Indianapolis based on best win percentage in conference games.

9 -  Bills

7

8

0

.467

3-2

6-5

.502

.400

Wins tie break over Indianapolis based on head-to-head win percentage.

10 - Colts

7

8

0

.467

3-2

5-6

.518

.433

--

11 -  Jaguars

5

10

0

.333

2-3

5-6

.467

.360

Wins tie break over Miami and Baltimore based on head-to-head sweep.

12 - Dolphins

5

10

0

.333

0-5

3-8

.455

.400

Wins tie break over Baltimore based on head-to-head win percentage.

13 - Ravens

5

10

0

.333

3-2

4-7

.489

.427

--

14 - Chargers

4

11

0

.267

0-5

3-8

.509

.317

--

15 - Browns

3

12

0

.200

1-4

2-9

.532

.267

Wins tie break over Tennessee based on head-to-head win percentage.

16 -  Titans

3

12

0

.200

1-4

1-10

.493

.378

--

GLOSSARY
  • W: Wins
  • L: Losses
  • T: Ties
  • PCT: Winning Percentage
  • DIV: Division Record
  • CONF: Conference Record
  • SOS: Strength of Schedule
  • SOV: Strength of Victory
  • REASON: Conference rank reason
  • Z: Clinched Division
  • X: Clinched Playoff Berth
  • *: Clinched Division and Bye