NFL playoffs: Four teams, including Dallas Cowboys, are in, but questions remain about the rest

Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott (21) is pushed out of bounds by Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Keith Tandy (37) after a long run late in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

With NFL Week 15 mostly complete except for Monday night's Redskins-Panthers showdown, here's how the playoff picture is shaping up with two games to play. Only four of the 12 postseason berths have been clinched - by the Patriots, Raiders, Cowboys and Seahawks - meaning there's much to play for over the final two weeks.

The usual tip of the cap to Joe Ferreira, who's all over this stuff.

AFC

1. Patriots 12-2

New England has clinched the AFC East and a first-round bye. The Patriots will clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win over the Jets on Saturday combined with a Raiders loss to the Colts.

2. Raiders 11-3

Oakland has clinched its first playoff berth since 2002. The Raiders will clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye with a win over the Colts plus a Chiefs loss or tie to the Broncos, or with a tie and a Chiefs loss.

3. Steelers 9-5

Pittsburgh will clinch the AFC North with a win over the Ravens on Christmas. A loss would give the Ravens the AFC North tiebreaker by virtue of their season sweep of the Steelers.

4. Texans 8-6

Houston will clinch the AFC South with a win over the Bengals on Christmas Eve night combined with a Titans loss at Jacksonville earlier in the day. The Texans and Titans meet in Week 17.

5. Chiefs 10-4

Kansas City will clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie against the Broncos on Christmas night plus a Ravens loss or tie to the Steelers earlier in the day.

6. Dolphins 9-5

Miami will clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Bills on Christmas Eve plus a Broncos loss or tie to the Chiefs the next night. The Dolphins also can clinch a berth in Week 16 with a tie, losses by the Broncos and Ravens, and either a Titans loss or a Texans loss or tie. They also will clinch a playoff berth by winning out. Miami closes with the Patriots at home in Week 17, and New England might have secured the No. 1 seed by then.

Still alive: Ravens (8-6), Titans (8-6), Broncos (8-6), Colts (7-7), Bills (7-7).

Eliminated: Bengals, Chargers, Jets, Jaguars, Browns.

NFC

(there will be a bit more clarity after Monday night's Redskins-Panthers game, and we'll update this post on Tuesday morning)

1. Cowboys 12-2

Dallas has clinched a playoff berth but not the NFC East title just yet. They will do so with one more Giants loss. Whomever wins the NFC East is guaranteed to be the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

2. Seahawks 9-4-1

Seattle clinched the NFC West. It can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Cardinals on Christmas Eve, a Falcons loss to the Panthers and a Lions loss to the Cowboys. It can clinch home-field advantage in the first round with a win over the Cardinals plus a Falcons loss to the Panthers, or with a win over the Cardinals plus a Lions loss to the Cowboys.

3. Falcons 9-5

Atlanta will clinch the NFC South and at least the No. 4 seed with a win or tie against the Panthers on Christmas Eve combined with a Bucs loss to the Saints, or with a win and a Saints-Bucs tie. There are numerous scenarios in which Atlanta can clinch a playoff berth in Week 16, all involving a Falcons win or tie against Carolina and some of them depending on the Redskins-Panthers result on Monday night.

4. Lions 9-5

Detroit will clinch the NFC North with a win over the Cowboys plus a Packers loss or tie to the Vikings, or with a tie against the Cowboys plus a Packers loss to the Vikings. There are numerous scenarios in which the Lions can clinch a playoff berth in Week 16, all involving a win or tie against the Cowboys and some depending on the Redskins-Panthers result on Monday night.

5. Giants 10-4

New York still hasn't clinched a playoff spot despite having the second-most wins in the NFC. The Giants will clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie against the Eagles on Thursday night. They will clinch the NFC East and the No. 1 seed if they win out and the Cowboys lose out.

6. Redskins 7-5-1

Washington got a huge gift with the Cowboys beating the Bucs on Sunday night, and a win over the Panthers on Monday night would boost the Redskins' playoff chances even more. We'll update this section on Tuesday morning.

Still alive: Packers (8-6), Bucs (8-6), Vikings (7-7), Saints (6-8), Panthers (5-8). Carolina and New Orleans would be eliminated with a Redskins win over the Panthers on Monday night, though a tie would only eliminate the Saints. The defending NFC champion Panthers have a nearly impossible path to the postseason: They will need to win out, have Tampa Bay lose its remaining two games, have the Vikings beat the Packers and both finish 8-8, have the Redskins finish the season 0-2-1 and have the Saints lose to the Falcons in Week 17.

Eliminated: Cardinals, Eagles, Rams, Bears, 49ers.

 

Author Information:

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and The Post's other Web-based products.

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Matt Bonesteel

 

 

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