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NFL playoff picture heading into Week 16

The Steelers lead the AFC North but the Bengals could still play a role in dictating the playoff teams, despite being eliminated from contention.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff picture has been shaken up following Week 15 in the NFL. The Patriots, Raiders, Cowboys and Seahawks all have clinched playoff berths but many of the other playoff teams have yet to be solidified with two weeks left to play.

Speaking of the Raiders, it’s nice to see them make it to the postseason for the first time since 2002. It was also nice to see Reggie Nelson make Sunday’s game-ending interception for Oakland. The Bengals certainly could have used that against the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, who Nelson loved picking off during his time in Cincinnati.

The Steelers maintain a one-game lead over the Ravens for the AFC North title and the Texans have a one-game lead over the Colts for the AFC South title. The Bengals could play a role in the outcome for both divisions as Cincinnati’s final two games of the season come at Houston and against the Ravens at home.

The Bengals have officially been eliminated from postseason contention and will have a losing record this season for the first time during the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green era.

Here’s who would be in the NFL playoffs if the season ended today.


1. [x y z] New England Patriots (12-2) (AFC: 9-1)

2. [x] Oakland Raiders (11-3) (AFC: 8–2)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) (AFC: 6-3)

4. Houston Texans (8-6) (AFC: 6-4)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) (AFC: 7-3)

6. Miami Dolphins (9-5) (AFC: 6-4)

In the hunt:

7. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) (AFC: 7-3)

8. Tennessee Titans (8-6) (AFC: 5-5)

9. Denver Broncos (8-6) (AFC: 5-5)

10. Indianapolis Colts (7-7) (AFC: 5–6)

11. Buffalo Bills (7-7) (AFC: 4-6)


1. [x] Dallas Cowboys (12-2) (NFC: 8–2)

2. [x y] Seattle Seahawk (9–4–1) (NFC: 5–4–1)

3. Detroit Lions (9–5) (NFC: 7–3)

4. Atlanta Falcons (9–5 (NFC: 7–3)

5. New York Giants (10–4 (NFC: 7–3)

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8–6) (NFC: 6–4)

In the hunt:

7. *Washington Redskins (7-5-1) (NFC: 5–4)

8. Minnesota Vikings (7–6) (NFC: 4–6)

9. Green Bay Packers (7–6) (NFC: 5–4)

10. Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1) (NFC: 4-4-1)


[x] Clinched the playoffs.

[x y] Clinched the playoffs and division.

[x y z] Clinched the playoffs, division and a first round bye

*The Redskins play the Panthers on Monday Night Football. A Washington win would put them in position for the 6th seed and bump the Buccaneers down to the “in the hunt” list.