How the NFL playoff picture looks right now: Steelers out, Colts in

Wow. The NFL playoff picture took a wild turn Sunday, with teams from Pennsylvania creating most of the chaos.

The Pittsburgh Steelers diminished their own postseason chances, while shaking up the rest of the AFC, with their loss in New Orleans. The upshot: The Baltimore Ravens now have the inside track on the AFC North championship, and there will be two AFC South teams in the playoffs. The Steelers’ loss came a few hours after the Philadelphia Eagles extended the drama in both conferences and kept alive their own playoff hopes.

Here is how the rest of the NFL playoff picture shakes out at the moment, with live playoff odds from ESPN’s Football Power Index.

Note: X denotes a team that has clinched a playoff berth, while Z shows a team that has clinched its division and Y indicates a team that secured a first-round bye (an asterisk shows home-field advantage).


AFC

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

Sunday night’s loss in Seattle cost the Chiefs a chance to clinch the AFC West and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They still control their fate and can lock it all up with a victory in Week 17 over the hapless Raiders. But a loss, combined with a Chargers victory, would relegate the Chiefs to a wild-card position.

Next up: vs. Oakland Raiders

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots’ victory over the Bills propelled them back into the AFC’s No. 2 spot after the Texans’ loss to the Eagles. The Patriots clinched the AFC East and now control their path moving forward. They can lock up a first-round bye with a victory in Week 17 and even have a chance at the No. 1 overall seed, if they win in Week 17 and both the Chiefs and Chargers lose. That would bring a semblance of normalcy; the Patriots haven’t played on wild-card weekend since 2009.

Next up: vs. New York Jets

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

Even with Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia, the Texans clinched a playoff berth by virtue of the Steelers’ loss. They can win the AFC South with a Week 17 victory. A loss would leave them as a wild-card entrant, with the winner of the Colts-Titans game clinching the division.

Next up: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

FPI playoff chances: 83.0 percent

Suddenly, the Ravens have control of the AFC North. Their victory Saturday night in Los Angeles, combined with the Steelers’ loss Sunday, means they will win the division with a victory in Week 17 or a loss by the Steelers. Who would have thought that a late-December game involving the Browns would carry so much weight?

Next up: vs. Cleveland Browns

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

Saturday night’s loss weakens the Chargers’ chances to win the AFC West and home-field advantage. Even with the Chiefs’ loss on Sunday night, the Chargers will have to root for the Chiefs to lose again in Week 17 — at home against the Raiders — to have a chance.

Next up: at Denver Broncos

image

FPI playoff chances: 52.2 percent

Sunday’s blistering comeback against the Giants, combined with the Steelers’ loss, put the Colts squarely in the playoff picture. Their path is simple: A win in Week 17 over the Titans would clinch a playoff spot, either as the AFC South champion (if the Texans lose) or as the sixth seed.

Next up: at Tennessee Titans

Still alive

  • Tennessee Titans (9-6, 47.7 percent chance): The Titans’ path to the playoffs is identical to that of the Colts: Win against Indianapolis in Week 17 and they’re in, either as the AFC South champion (if the Texans lose) or as the sixth seed.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1, 17.1 percent chance): The Steelers have almost no chance to be a wild-card team. Their best path to the playoffs is with a Week 17 victory against Cincinnati, combined with a Ravens loss. They could theoretically be a wild-card team if they win, and the Colts and Titans tie.


NFC

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will go through New Orleans, the same formula that led the Saints to Super Bowl XLIV. Sunday’s comeback victory over the Steelers locked the Saints into the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They would win the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Rams if it came to that.

Next up: vs. Carolina Panthers

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

The Rams’ win Sunday kept them on track for a first-round bye in the playoffs, but they won’t be able to clinch it until Week 17. Why? The Bears remain one game behind and would win the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Rams if it comes to that. So the Rams will need to win in Week 17, or have the Bears lose, to ensure a week off.

Next up: vs. San Francisco 49ers

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

Sunday’s win over the 49ers means the Bears will be no worse than the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. They could still move up to No. 2 and receive a first-round bye if they win in Week 17 and the Rams lose. Had the Saints lost Sunday, the Bears would have entered Week 17 with an outside chance to actually clinch the top seed. Alas.

Next up: at Minnesota Vikings

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

The Cowboys are your NFC East champions. They finished Sunday’s game with a slight chance to move up to the No. 3 seed, but the Bears’ victory in San Francisco squashed it. The Cowboys will be the fourth seed and will host the No. 5 seed on wild-card weekend.

Next up: at New York Giants

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

The Seahawks clinched a playoff spot Sunday night after defeating the Chiefs. Their seeding will be determined in Week 17. A win or a loss by the Vikings will lock them in at No. 5. But a loss, combined with a Vikings victory, would put the Seahawks at No. 6.

Next up: vs. Arizona Cardinals

6. Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1)

FPI playoff chances: 73.8 percent

The Vikings did their part Sunday by winning in Detroit, but they were unable to clinch a playoff spot because of the Eagles’ victory over the Texans. So they’ll move on to Week 17 needing either a victory or an Eagles loss to ensure a playoff spot. The Vikings are also still alive for the fifth seed and would get there with a win combined with a Seahawks loss in Week 17.

Next up: vs. Chicago Bears

Still alive

  • Philadelphia Eagles (8-7, 26.2 percent chance): The Eagles need some help. They’ll clinch a wild-card spot if they win in Week 17 against the Redskins and the Vikings lose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *