The NFL playoff picture runs directly through this week’s marquee matchup between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos. The Patriots can lock up the AFC East for the third consecutive season and eighth time in nine seasons with a win in Denver. A Jets loss to the Eagles would also seal the deal for the Patriots.
In the AFC North, both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers can each clinch a playoff berth with wins this week. Baltimore plays at San Diego in prime time on Sunday night. The Steelers have a tougher matchup against in San Francisco on Monday night. If they do come out on the wrong side of that game, a loss by Oakland, Tennessee, Denver or the Jets would still give Pittsburgh a playoff spot. Barring a total collapse by the Ravens, the Steelers will have one of two wildcard spots.
Green Bay has one more hurdle left to clear before locking up all the chits they can on their march toward inevitability. A win this week in Kansas City gives them home field throughout the playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints can clinch the NFC South with a win over the Vikings and an Atlanta Falcons loss or tie to the Jaguars. With both the Saints and the Falcons favored, the NFC South picture may hinge on a Week 16 Monday Night Football game between those two teams.