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Playoff picture: Niners' win shakes things up

Playoff picture: Niners' win shakes things up

If the season ended now:

AFC first-round byes: (1) Broncos, (2) Patriots. NFC: (1) Seahawks, (2) Panthers

AFC wild card: (6) Dolphins at (3) Bengals; (5) Chiefs at (4) Colts

NFC wild card: (6) Saints at (3) Eagles; (5) 49ers at (4) Bears

How wild is Week 16? The Dolphins got shut out, but they moved from outside to inside the top six in the AFC. And a game between two eliminated teams, the Browns and Jets, helped keep the Steelers alive.

All four teams in contention for the No. 6 seed in the AFC need help to make the playoffs. The Dolphins currently have the lead, but the Ravens get the nod if all four teams lose (Miami plays host to the Jets and Baltimore visits the Bengals). The Chargers lose all the tiebreakers but have the Chiefs at home, and Kansas City is locked into the No. 5 seed. The Steelers get in with a win against the Browns and losses by the other three contenders.

Also in the AFC, every division title has been secured. The Broncos won the West and earned a first-round bye, but the Patriots still have a shot at No. 1 (or could fall to No. 3 or 4). The Chiefs are the top wild card.

In the NFC, the Bears squandered their chance to become the conference's first division champion but will play host to the Packers in one of two winner-take-all games next week. The Eagles visit the Cowboys for the East title in the late game.

Earlier, the 49ers and Saints could have clinched playoff berths and the Seahawks the West title and No. 1 seed if the Cardinals had lost in Seattle, but Arizona won. Even 11-5 might not be good enough for the Cardinals. The Panthers clinched a playoff berth but not the division title by beating the Saints earlier.

Here's the updated playoff picture after the 49ers clinched a spot by beating the Falcons (x-clinched playoff berth; y-clinched division title):

AFC

1. y-Denver Broncos (12-3, West champion; at Raiders [4-11], 4:25 ET)

  • 1 seed: Win/tie at the Raiders or Patriots loss/tie to the Bills
  • 2: Loss at the Raiders + Patriots win

2. y-New England Patriots (11-4, East champion, vs. Bills [6-9], 4:25 ET)

  • 1: Win vs. the Bills + Broncos loss at the Raiders 
  • 2: Tie; or win + Broncos win/tie; or loss + Bengals loss/tie to Ravens + Colts loss/tie to Jaguars
  • 3: Loss + either Bengals loss/tie or Colts loss/tie
  • 4: Loss + Bengals win + Colts win

3. y-Cincinnati Bengals (10-5, North champion; vs. Ravens [8-7], 1 ET)

  • 2: Win vs. the Ravens + Patriots loss to the Bills (later)
  • 3: Win + Patriots win/tie, or loss/tie + Colts loss to the Jaguars
  • 4: Loss + Colts win/tie

4. y-Indianapolis Colts (10-5, South champion; vs. Jaguars [4-11], 1 ET)

  • 2: Win vs. the Jaguars + Patriots loss to the Bills + Bengals loss to the Ravens
  • 3: Win + either Patriots loss or Bengals loss
  • 4: Loss, or win + Patriots win/tie + Bengals win

5. x-Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, clinched playoff berth; at Chargers [8-7], 4:25 ET)

  • Will be the No. 5 seed and open the playoffs at the No. 4 seed Colts, Bengals or Patriots

6. Miami Dolphins (8-7, 7-4 conf, 2-3 div; vs. Jets [7-8, 2-3 div], 1 ET)

  • Would clinch a playoff berth with a win + Ravens loss at the Bengals and/or Chargers loss to the Chiefs (later)
IN THE HUNT

7. Baltimore Ravens (8-7, 6-5 conf, 3-2 div; at Bengals [10-5], 1 ET)

  • Would clinch a playoff berth with a win + Dolphins loss to Jets and/or Chargers loss to Chiefs
  • Would clinch a playoff berth with a Dolphins loss + Chargers loss + Steelers loss to the Browns

8. San Diego Chargers (8-7, 5-6 conf; vs. Chiefs [11-4], 4:25 ET)

  • Would clinch a playoff berth with a win vs. the Chiefs + Dolphins loss to the Jets (earlier) + Ravens loss at the Bengals (earlier)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8, 5-6 conf, 3-2 div; vs. Browns [4-11], 1 ET)

  • Would clinch a playoff berth with a win vs. the Browns + Dolphins loss to the Jets + Ravens loss at the Bengals + Chargers loss to the Chiefs (later)

NFC

1. x-Seattle Seahawks (12-3, clinched playoff berth; vs. Rams [7-8], 4:25 ET)

  • 1 seed: Win/tie vs. the Rams or 49ers loss/tie at the Cardinals
  • 5: Loss + 49ers win
2. x-Carolina Panthers (11-4, clinched playoff berth; at Falcons [4-11],1 ET)
  • 1: Win at the Falcons + Seahawks loss to the Rams (later) + 49ers win at the Cardinals (later)
  • 2: Loss + Saints loss/tie to the Buccaneers; or win + either Seahawks win/tie or 49ers loss/tie
  • 5: Loss + Saints win + 49ers loss
  • 6: Loss + Saints win + 49ers win

3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6, at Cowboys [8-7], 8:30 ET)

  • Would clinch the East and No. 3 seed with a win/tie at the Cowboys.

4. Chicago Bears (8-7, vs. Packers [7-7-1], 4:25 ET)

  • Would clinch the North with a win/tie vs. the Packers. Eliminated with a loss.
  • 3: Win vs. the Packers + Eagles loss at the Cowboys
  • 4: Tie; or win vs. the Packers + Eagles win/tie

5. x-San Francisco 49ers (11-4, clinched playoff berth; at Cardinals [10-5], 4:25 ET)

  • 1: Win at the Cardinals + Seahawks loss to the Rams + Panthers loss/tie at the Falcons
  • 2: Win + Seahawks loss + Panthers win
  • 5: Win + Seahawks win/tie; or Loss/tie + Saints loss/tie to Buccaneers
  • 6: Loss + Saints win

6. New Orleans Saints (10-5; vs. Buccaneers [4-11], 4:25 ET)

  • Would clinch a playoff berth with a win vs. the Buccaneers or Cardinals loss to the 49ers.
  • 2: Win vs. the Buccaneers + Panthers loss at the Falcons
  • 5: Win + Panthers win/tie + 49ers loss at the Cardinals
  • 6: Win + Panthers win/tie + 49ers win/tie; or Loss/tie + Cardinals loss

IN THE HUNT

7. Arizona Cardinals (10-5, vs. 49ers [11-4], 4:25 ET)

  • Would clinch a playoff berth and the No. 6 seed with a win vs. the 49ers + Saints loss/tie to the Buccaneers; or tie + Saints loss. Eliminated with a loss or Saints win.

8. Dallas Cowboys (8-7, vs. Eagles [9-6], 8:30 ET)

  • Would clinch the East with a win vs. the Eagles. Eliminated with a loss/tie.
  • 3: Win vs. the Eagles + Bears loss/tie vs. the Packers
  • 4: Win + Bears win

9. Green Bay Packers (7-7-1, at Bears [8-7], 4:25 ET)

  • Would clinch the North and No. 4 seed with a win at the Bears.
 

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