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2015 NFL playoff picture: Chiefs clinch playoff spot, Jets take AFC Wild Card lead over Steelers

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The Chiefs clinched a spot in the postseason with a big win and a Steelers loss, while the Jets upset the Patriots and took a lead over the Steelers in the playoffs.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: The Cardinals beat up on the Packers to secure a first round bye, and the Vikings dismantled the Giants to clinch and set up an NFC North title bout against the Packer next week. Check out the complete playoff picture heading into Sunday Night Football here.

Going into Week 16, there were plenty of playoff spots still up for grabs, though one more was taken on Saturday when Washington officially won the NFC East. That made it so the final spot in the NFC could only be claimed by two teams: the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons needed a win over the undefeated Carolina Panthers and they needed both the Vikings and Seattle Seahawks to lose to stay alive. The Vikings needed a win or a Falcons loss to clinch the final playoff spot. Finally, the Panthers needed a win to clinch the top seed in the NFC.

Shockingly, the Falcons did manage to win, ending Carolina's undefeated streak and denying them the first seed for now. The win also forces the Vikings into a win-and-in situation on Sunday Night Football. The Falcons need the Vikings and Seahawks to lose out and they need to beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 17 to make the playoffs.

Carolina can still clinch the top seed with an Arizona Cardinals loss on Sunday.


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The Houston Texans could have clinched the AFC South with a win over the Tennessee Titans and an Indianapolis Colts loss or another complicated scenario that included wins for the Jets, Panthers and Saints. Houston dominated the Titans on Sunday, winning that game and improving to 8-7 on the season, but the Colts did not lose their game against the Miami Dolphins. On top of that, the Panthers lost so the Texans have to wait another week to punch their ticket in the playoffs.

The Kansas City Chiefs needed a win over the Cleveland Browns and losses by either the Pittsburgh Steelers or New York Jets to clinch a spot in the playoffs. They got a close win over the Browns, and the Baltimore Ravens upset the Steelers, who also could have clinched with a win plus a Jets loss or Chiefs loss. Instead, the Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot and the Cincinnati Bengals have clinched the AFC North division.

Cincinnati can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.

But the Steelers are now out of the playoff picture, for this week. The New England Patriots were also capable of earning the top seed and guaranteeing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They simply needed a win over the Jets, but they didn't get it and New York put themselves above the Steelers in the wild card race. The Steelers will need a win and a Jets loss to make it in Week 17.

Here are the current standings entering Sunday:


1. (z) New England Patriots (12-3)
2. (y) Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)
3. Denver Broncos (10-4)
4. Houston Texans (8-7)
5. (x) Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)
6. New York Jets (10-5)

In The Hunt

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6)
Indianapolis Colts (7-8)


1. (z) Carolina Panthers (14-1)
2. (y) Arizona Cardinals (12-2)
3. (x) Green Bay Packers (10-4)
4. (y) Washington (8-7)
5. (x) Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
6. Minnesota Vikings (9-5)

In The Hunt

Atlanta Falcons (8-7)

(z) - First-round bye
(y) - Division winner
(x) - Playoff berth

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