NFL standings: Updated AFC, NFC playoff picture for Week 16 of 2023 season

The NFL playoff race is down to three games left for all 32 teams in the 2023 regular season through Week 18. More teams have been eliminated but most are still alive for Christmas weekend action.

Although there are some dominant teams headed to a return to the playoffs,  scenarios remain in flux with seeding and potential entrants.

Here’s a look at the updated NFL playoff picture for Week 16:

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys, Steelers flop after blowout losses; 49ers, Ravens battle at top for Week 16

NFL standings for Week 16

AFC playoff picture

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-3), first place, AFC North. The Ravens hold a two-game lead over the Browns for now ahead of their Monday night Week 16 finale at the 49ers. They can clinch at least a wild-card playoff spot and get closer to the division title by winning while the Browns lose at the Texans. After San Francisco, Baltimore closes with No. 2 seed Miami and North cellar dweller Pittsburgh.

2. Miami Dolphins (10-4), first place, AFC East. The Dolphins still hold a two-game lead in their division over the Bills. They can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16 with a home win over the Cowboys. They can also lock down the division title over the Bills with a win and a Bills loss at the Chargers. Miami has Baltimore and Buffalo to close out the season after Dallas, no easy stretch.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs’ division lead over the Broncos is back up to two games with the right results happening for them in Week 15. The Chiefs will clinch both a playoff spot and the AFC West title by beating the Raiders at home on Monday. After the Raiders, this team finishes up with the Bengals and Chargers.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6), first place, AFC South. The Jaguars have lost three consecutive games to AFC North foes. The cold streak has caused their division lead over the Colts and Texans to evaporate, save for still holding the division record tiebreaker (4-1 vs. 3-2 and 2-2). The Jaguars close with the Buccaneers and Panthers from the NFC South and then at the last-place Titans.

5. Cleveland Browns (9-5), second place, AFC North. The Browns bolstered their wild-card position by beating the Bears in Week 15. Cleveland has an outside shot of clinching at least a wild-card spot with a win over Houston and the right combination of other things happening, depending on the result from the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6), third place, AFC North. The Bengals keep rolling with Jake Browning at quarterback, looking for a fourth consecutive victory at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Cincinnati will end the season tough, at Kansas City and vs. Cleveland. The Bengals are still a division long shot behind the Ravens and Browns, as they are three games out of first and got swept by the Ravens.

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6), second place, AFC South. The Colts joined the Bengals in winning in Week 15, beating the Steelers at home. That was key to maintaining a wild-card spot. They are No. 7 instead of No. 6 because they lost at the Bengals in Week 14. After going to the Falcons in Week 16, the Colts close with home game against the Raiders and Texans, with the latter likely having a lot on the line.

Who’s in the hunt?

8. Houston Texans (8-6)

9. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)

11. Denver Broncos (7-7)

12. Las Vegas Raiders (6-8)

The Texans joined the Browns, Bengals and Colts in winning in Week 15, making five wins not good enough to make the AFC playoffs anymore. The Bills kept pace, something the Steelers and Broncos couldn’t do.

NFC playoff picture

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-3), champions, NFC West. The 49ers already have clinched a repeat division title after they won at the Cardinals in Week 15. They can now focus on locking down the top seed. They can surprisingly already nail that down in Week 16 with a win over the Ravens and losses by the Cowboys, Lions and Eagles. The 49ers close up with the Commanders on the road and the Rams at home.

2. Dallas Cowboys (10-4), first place, NFC East. The Cowboys have already clinched another playoff spot and despite losing at the Bills in Week 15, they remain in first place over the same-record Eagles, who matched them by losing at the Seahawks. The Cowboys hold the slimmest of edges with a half-game better division record. Dallas’ lead remains precarious with tough interdivision matchups with Miami and Detroit before finishing with last-place Washington.

3. Detroit Lions (10-4), first place, NFC North. The Lions would clinch their first division title in 30 years with a win over the second-place Vikings on the road in Week 16. Should they lose to the Vikings, the Lions can still earn at least a wild-card berth with a win and a Seahawks loss at the Titans.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7), first place, NFC South. The Buccaneers are up a half-game over the Saints in the division as that team lost to the Rams to open Week 16. The Bucs have both the head-to-head (from Week 4) and division record tiebreakers and now are a full game ahead of the losing Falcons, too. It’s down to a two-team race likely in the South with the Week 17 Bucs-Saints rematch likely deciding it. Around that game, the Bucs host the Jaguars and go to the Panthers.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4), first place, NFC East. The Eagles have clinched another playoff spot with a shot to defend thei conference championship crown and are likely won’t finish any lower than this seed. But they need to make up one more game on the Cowboys after they split their season series. The Eagles play the Giants twice around a home date with the Cardinals, while the Cowboys have their hands full with the Dolphins and Lions in successive games.

6. Los Angeles Rams (8-7), second place, NFC West. The Rams got here by beating the Commanders in Week 15 and also taking down the Saints to open Week 16 at home on Thursday night. They can’t catch the 49ers but might play a resting version of that team in Week 18 after a very favorable road game against the Giants in Week 17.

7. Minnesota Vikings (7-7), second place, NFC North. The Vikings dropped to .500 after losing at the Bengals in Week 15. Their outside shot at winning the division comes from beating the Lions twice in the past two weeks on top of also winning a home game vs. the Packers in Week 17 and seeing the Lions lose to the Cowboys that same week. As for the wild card, the Vikings need to finish strong to stay ahead of the pack behind them.

Who’s in the hunt?

8. Seattle Seahawks (7-7)

9. New Orleans Saints (7-8)

10. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)

11. Green Bay Packers (6-8)

12. New York Giants (5-9)

13. Chicago Bears (5-9)

14. Washington Commanders (4-10)

The Seahawks got a huge home win over the Eagles to close Week 15 and now they will hope they can climb up over the final three weeks. The Saints took a tough blow for both their NFC South and wild-card berth hopes by losing at the Rams to open the week.


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