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NFL playoff picture 2019: 4 more teams clinch, leaving 3 spots up for grabs in the final week

The NFC will go through New Orleans, and the Cowboys, Texans, Patriots, and Seahawks are in the playoffs.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Week 16 is now in the rearview mirror and finally, a team has stepped up to claim a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Four other teams joined the playoff party, and few others were eliminated from contention on a wild Sunday that saw several games go down to the wire.

It’s getting tight now, with just three playoff spots remaining.

Here’s how Week 16 affected the NFL playoff picture.

NFC playoff picture

What stayed the same: The Vikings remain in the playoff hunt, but failed to clinch a spot despite their win over the Lions on Sunday. That’s because they needed the Texans to beat the Eagles, which they did not. The Rams did not manage to get a first-round bye yet, as that scenario required a Bears loss. The Eagles and Ravens both kept themselves in the running, but neither team is in the playoffs yet.

What changed: The Cowboys clinched the NFC East by beating the Buccaneers on Sunday. The Panthers were the first NFC team to be eliminated in Week 16, falling to the Falcons in a game they needed to win. Washington is also out of contention after its loss on Saturday and the Eagles’ win over the Texans. The Saints secured the top seed in the conference with a last-minute win over the Steelers. On Sunday evening, the Seahawks upset the Chiefs and made their way back in the playoffs after a one-year absence.

What to watch for moving forward: While the Bears and Rams are still playing for the second seed, only one actual playoff spot remains. It’s down to the Vikings (currently slotted in as a wild card team) and the Eagles, who are on the outside looking in but not eliminated. Philadelphia will play Washington in Week 17, while the Vikings have a tougher outing against the Bears.

If the season ended today, these would be the NFC playoff seeds:

*Clinched playoff berth; **Clinched division

1. Saints** (13-2), (conference record: 9-2)
2. Rams** (12-3), (8-3)
3. Bears** (11-4), (9-2)
4. Cowboys** (9-6), (8-3)
5. Seahawks* (9-6), (7-4)
6. Vikings (8-6-1), (6-4-1)

In the hunt:

Eagles (8-7), (5-6)



AFC playoff picture

What stayed the same: The Steelers still aren’t in the playoffs, while the Ravens kept themselves in the picture with a win over the Chargers. Both the Titans and Colts remain in the hunt after wins. The Chiefs, despite getting help with a Chargers loss, couldn’t lock down the AFC West or a first-round bye due to their loss to the Seahawks.

What changed: It took them three tries, but the Patriots clinched the AFC East by beating the Bills (they also could have done so if the Dolphins lost to the Jaguars, which they did). The Browns became the first team in Week 16 to be eliminated from contention, and they were followed closely by the Dolphins. The Texans nabbed a playoff spot despite a loss on Sunday, thanks to the Steelers falling to the Saints. The Ravens overtook the Steelers for the AFC North lead. The Steelers dropped from the No. 4 seed out of the picture for now.

What to watch for moving forward: The big one is the Week 17 matchup between the Colts and Titans, which is essentially a playoff game. Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is still up for grabs, as is the AFC North. The Ravens can win the division if they beat the Browns next week. The Steelers’ playoff hopes rest on beating the Bengals and getting some help from the Browns.

If the season ended today, these would be the AFC playoff seeds:

*Clinched playoff berth; **Clinched division

1. Chiefs* (11-4), (9-2)
2. Patriots** (10-5), (7-4)
3. Texans* (10-5), (8-3)
4. Ravens (9-6), (7-4)
5. Chargers* (11-4), (8-3)
6. Colts (9-6), (6-5)

In the hunt:

Titans (9-6), (5-6)
Steelers (8-6-1), (5-5-1)



AFC tiebreaker notes:

  • The Chiefs hold the tiebreaker over the Chargers based on their better record in the AFC West.
  • The Patriots own the tiebreaker over the Texans because they beat them earlier this season.
  • The Colts currently have the edge on the Titans due to winning their first meeting this season, but they will face each other in Week 17.