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NFL playoff picture: Steelers represent AFC North as No. 3 seed

The AFC playoffs run through New England while the NFC playoffs run through Dallas.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Bengals will be sitting at home during the playoffs, watching 12 other teams compete for the opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots, Chiefs, Steelers and Texans won their respective divisions in the AFC, while the Cowboys, Seahawks, Falcons and Packers have won their divisions in the NFC.


  1. New England Patriots (14-2)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
  4. Houston Texans (9-7)
  5. Oakland Raiders (12-4)
  6. Miami Dolphins (10-6)

To start things off, the Patriots and Chiefs will be watching from home during Wild Card weekend with byes.

The Oakland Raiders and their No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback will take on the Houston Texans on Wild Card weekend. Both the Raiders and Texans experienced Week 17 quarterback injuries. For the Raiders, it was to their No. 2 guy as starter Derek Carr already went down with a fibula injury last week. Carr’s injury is expected to take 4-6 weeks to heal. Then on Sunday, backup Matt McGloin went down with a shoulder injury. The severity is unclear, but rookie quarterback Connor Cook came in and finished out the loss to the Broncos, going 14 for 21 for 150 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. The Texans lost backup-turned-starter Tom Savage to a concussion in Week 17. Brock Osweiler entered the game in his place and was 21-of-40 for 253 yards and 1 touchdown in the Texans' loss to the Titans. Depending on how quickly Savage recovers from his concussion, Osweiler could be starting for the Texans in the Wild Card round.

The other Wild Card game will pit the 11-5 Steelers against the 10-6 Dolphins, who also will likely be playing a backup quarterback in the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill sprained the ACL and MCL in his left knee on December 11 and hasn’t practiced since. The Dolphins are hoping he can return at some point, but it’s unclear when that will be. It will likely be Matt Moore leading the Dolphins against Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.

The Dolphins whipped the Steelers, 30-15 in Week 6, starting the Steelers' four game losing streak. That streak also saw Pittsburgh lose to fellow playoff teams in the Patriots and Cowboys.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the AFC Championship won by the Patriots or Steelers.


  1. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
  2. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
  4. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
  5. New York Giants (11-5)
  6. Detroit Lions (9-7)

The Cowboys and Falcons secured the honor or Wild Card byes.

The Week 17 Sunday Night Football contest, which was essentially the NFC North championship game, won the Packers the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Lions, who lost the game, will get the No. 6 seed. The Packers will play the Giants, who they already beat in Week 5 this season, and the Lions will play the Seahawks, on Wild Card weekend.

The NFC Championship seems much more in the air than that of the AFC, with established starting quarterbacks and not the mess of backups the AFC matchups include. In fact, it’s the No. 1 seed Cowboys whose rookie quarterback is the least experienced of the NFC group, and he’s proven to be quite reliable this season, losing only division matchups to the Giants and a meaningless Week 17 game to the Eagles, which Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez played in for the majority of the contest.

Who are you rooting for to win in the playoffs? I know it’s not the Steelers.

2015 Bengals players and coaches who will be in the playoffs:

  • Leon Hall - Giants
  • Marvin Jones Jr. - Lions
  • Mohamed Sanu - Falcons
  • Reggie Nelson - Raiders
  • Vance Joseph - Dolphins
  • Matt Burke - Dolphins