Week 16 NFL playoff picture: Titans move a step closer

The opening games of Week 16 could have a sizable impact on the AFC postseason race. Let’s update the entire NFL playoff picture after the Tennessee Titans’ 25-16 victory over the Washington Redskins:

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.


1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) — X

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

The Chiefs missed a chance to win the AFC West and be in position to clinch AFC home-field advantage after losing to the Chargers. They remain atop the AFC West because of a better division record (4-1) than the Chargers (3-2). As a result, the FPI is still giving the Chiefs a 71 percent chance to win the division. They can clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye with a win in Week 16, but home-field advantage might come down to Week 17, with the Chiefs needing a victory over the Raiders to lock it up.

Next up: at Seattle Seahawks

2. Houston Texans (10-4)

FPI playoff chances: >99 percent

The Patriots’ loss in Week 15 elevated the Texans into sole possession of the No. 2 spot, putting them in range of the first playoff bye in franchise history. One minor obstacle: They have yet to clinch a postseason berth, let alone the AFC South. That could come this weekend. The Texans could clinch the playoffs with a win or a loss by the Ravens or Steelers, the AFC South with a win and losses by the Titans and Colts, and a first-round bye with a win and a Patriots loss.

That could all happen in Week 16.

Next up: at Philadelphia Eagles

3. New England Patriots (9-5)

FPI playoff chances: >99 percent

A loss in Pittsburgh officially dropped the Patriots to the No. 3 spot. If current positioning holds, the Patriots will miss out on a first-round playoff bye for the first time in nine seasons. It is not unheard of for a team to advance to the Super Bowl from the wild-card round, but New England has never done it in three tries under coach Bill Belichick. Fortunately for them, the Patriots close at home with games against the Bills and Jets (9-19 combined record), and they can clinch the AFC East with a victory over the Bills. But they’ll need help from the Texans to get back to the No. 2 spot.

Next up: vs. Buffalo Bills


4. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1)

FPI playoff chances: 84 percent

A three-game losing streak dropped the Steelers as far as they could fall without materially affecting their playoff positioning. Had they lost in Week 15 to the Patriots, they would have fallen behind the Ravens in the AFC North and then completely out of the playoff picture. Now, they can clinch the division with a win and a Ravens loss in Week 16.

Next up: at New Orleans Saints

5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-3) — X

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

The Chargers clinched a playoff berth with a victory Thursday night at Kansas City, but they have more work to do. If the division title comes down to Week 17, they’ll need a win in Denver — a more difficult matchup than the Chiefs will face. The FPI gives them a 29 percent chance to pull it off.

Next up: vs. Baltimore Ravens

6. Tennessee Titans (9-6)

For a few hours, at least, the Titans have jumped ahead of the Baltimore Ravens for the second wild-card spot. If the Ravens win a tough game Saturday night at the Los Angeles Chargers, they’ll move back up to the No. 6 spot. If not, the Ravens will be in danger of postseason elimination and the Titans would be left battling the Indianapolis Colts and possibly the Miami Dolphins for this spot.

Next up: Home vs. Indianapolis Colts

In the hunt: Baltimore Ravens (8-6), Indianapolis Colts (8-6), Miami Dolphins (7-7)


1. New Orleans Saints (12-2) — Z

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

After Monday night’s victory over the Panthers, the Saints are a full game ahead of the Rams in the race for NFC home-field advantage in the playoffs. One more victory, in Week 16 or 17, will clinch it because they own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Rams.

Next up: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Los Angeles Rams (11-3) — Z

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

The Rams might have kissed their chance at NFC home-field advantage goodbye. And after losing at home to the 6-7 Eagles, they are now in position to lose out on a first-round bye altogether. They’re only one game ahead of the Bears, who defeated them in Week 14 and thus hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. On the other hand, they can still clinch a first-round bye with a win in Week 16 and a Bears loss. Stay tuned.

Next up: at Arizona Cardinals

3. Chicago Bears (10-4) — Z

FPI playoff chances: 100 percent

For the first time since 2010, the Bears are NFC North champions. They secured the inevitable Sunday by defeating the Packers at Soldier Field. The only question left now is whether they can sneak past the Rams for a first-round bye. The Bears hold the head-to-head tiebreaker if it comes to that.

Next up: at San Francisco 49ers

4. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

FPI playoff chances: 95 percent

The loss in Indianapolis delayed what is still a likely NFC East title for the Cowboys. Their lead in the division is down to one game over both the Redskins and Eagles, but Dallas owns the tiebreaker against both. So the only way the Cowboys will lose the division is if they lose both of their remaining games and either the Redskins or Eagles finish 2-0. The FPI gives that scenario a 2.3 percent chance.

Next up: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)

FPI playoff chances: 99 percent

Had they won at San Francisco, the Seahawks would have clinched a playoff berth. But one victory over their final two games should still do it. It won’t get any easier in Week 16 against the Chiefs, but if all else fails, they’ll host the woeful Cardinals in Week 17.

Next up: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

6. Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1)

FPI playoff chances: 65 percent

Had the Vikings not defeated the Dolphins on Sunday, they would have fallen out of the second wild-card spot. They have no margin for error with a half-game lead, and their only way to guarantee a playoff berth is to win their final two games — both against NFC North rivals. But they do have a chance to clinch a wild-card berth with a win in Week 16, a loss by the Eagles and a loss by the Redskins.

Next up: at Detroit Lions

In the hunt: Philadelphia Eagles (7-7), Washington Redskins (7-8), Carolina Panthers (6-8)

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