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NFL playoff standings 2016: How the Week 15 schedule shaped the postseason

The Cowboys got some company in the playoffs this week.

NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Week 15, only one team — the Dallas Cowboys — was assured of a spot in the 2017 playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks joined them on Thursday night with a win over the Jeff Fisher-less Los Angeles Rams. They got some company by the time Sunday’s games drew to a close.

First up was the Patriots, who punched their playoff ticket with a win over the Broncos. They also won the AFC East and secured a first-round bye.

Then, the Raiders joined them with a victory against the Chargers. The Chiefs, Lions, and Giants all needed a little help to clinch a spot, but they didn’t get it.

Losses ended the postseason hopes of several more teams. The Eagles, Bengals, Cardinals, and Chargers are all eliminated and can now start making vacation plans.

Here’s what happened this weekend as the 2016 season rounds into its final stretch.

Seahawks 24, Rams 3 (Thursday)

The Seahawks became the first team this season to clinch a division crown, and won the NFC West title for the third time in four years. They took back the No. 2 spot in the NFC after the Lions fell to the Giants.

Dolphins 34, Jets 13 (Saturday)

Miami is back in the AFC’s No. 6 seed after its win and the Broncos’ loss to the Patriots.

Bills 33, Browns 13

The Bills technically remain in the playoff hunt, but would need several teams ahead of them to lose to move up.

Packers 30, Bears 27

Aaron Rodgers continues his late MVP surge, and Green Bay is only one game out of the top spot in the NFC North.

Steelers 24, Bengals 20

Pittsburgh solidifies its spot atop the AFC North. At 9-5, the Steelers would also be in good shape for a wild card bid even if the Ravens win the division. The loss officially eliminated the Bengals.

Titans 19, Chiefs 17

The Titans keep their sights set on an AFC South crown. They needed a win to stay neck-and-neck with Houston, which beat Jacksonville. The Chiefs will have to wait another week to try to earn a postseason bid.

Colts 34, Vikings 6

Indianapolis stays in the playoff race at 7-7, but would need help from the Titans and Texans to have any reasonable hope of making it to the postseason.

Giants 17, Lions 6

The Giants are still ahead in the wild card race, but can’t clinch a playoff spot this week. The Lions stay atop the NFC North, but it’s a tighter race after Green Bay won.

Ravens 27, Eagles 26

The Ravens can’t take over first place in the AFC North because of the Steelers’ win over the Bengals. However, 8-6 Baltimore is in solid shape to take back the division in a massive showdown next week against Pittsburgh.

Texans 21, Jaguars 20

Houston retains its lead in the AFC South, which may be decided by a Week 17 showdown between the Texans and Titans.

Falcons 41, 49ers 13

The Falcons add another conference win and retain their lead in the NFC South. With the Buccaneers’ loss in Dallas Sunday night, that now means a full game lead in the division.

Saints 48, Cardinals 41

The Saints stay in the playoff race, but would need a tremendous amount of help to move up the playoff ladder over the league’s final three weeks. The Cardinals are officially eliminated.

Raiders 19, Chargers 16

For the first time in 14 years, the Raiders are in the playoffs. Oakland also takes the AFC West lead with the Chiefs’ loss.

Patriots 16, Broncos 3

New England wins the AFC East for the eighth straight season and earns a first-round bye.

Cowboys 26, Buccaneers 20

The Cowboys don’t clinch the NFC East because the Giants beat the Lions, but they still own the best record in the NFC. The Bucs fell out of the playoff picture, but only for a day. They got the No. 6 seed right back after Washington lost Monday.

Panthers 26, Washington 15

Carolina’s hopes of defending its NFC title are on life support, while Washington falls right back out of the No. 6 seed with the loss.

Here’s what the standings look like after Week 15:

  1. Patriots (12-2, AFC East)
  2. Raiders (11-3, AFC West)
  3. Steelers (9-5, AFC North)
  4. Texans (8-6, AFC South)
  5. Chiefs (10-4, Wild Card)
  6. Dolphins (9-5, Wild Card)
  1. Cowboys (12-2, NFC East)
  2. Seahawks (9-4-1, NFC West)
  3. Falcons (9-5, NFC South)
  4. Lions (9-5, NFC North)
  5. Giants (10-4, Wild Card)
  6. Bucs (8-6, Wild Card)

Dramatic finish for Titans and Chiefs