NFL playoff picture Week 16: Bengals clinch postseason berth with win over Broncos
We take a look at the latest playoff picture following the Bengals’ victory over the Broncos on Monday, and heading into the final week of the regular season.
The Cincinnati Bengals took down the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, punching their own ticket into the postseason while doing so. The Bengals also maintain a narrow lead in the AFC North, though the division will be up for grabs in Week 17, when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But that’s not all the good news for the Bengals. With the win, they now have a narrow chance of earnining themselves the second seed and a first-round bye in the postseason. If they manage to best the Steelers in Week 17 and the Broncos lose to the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati will move into that spot. Obviously, the Broncos losing to Oakland isn’t exactly a likely circumstance.
With the loss, Denver lost its chance to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The first seed now belongs to the New England Patriots. Denver is still capable of earning a first-round bye as the second seed, however.
As this game was between two AFC teams, nobody in the NFC was affected by the result. Here’s a look at both conferences and where they stand heading into Week 17:
1. New England Patriots (12-3)
2. Denver Broncos (11-4)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1)
4. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)
6. San Diego Chargers (9-6)
In the hunt
Coming into Week 16, three divisions within the AFC had already been decided. The Patriots, Colts and Broncos secured the AFC East, AFC South and AFC West, respectively, in Week 15. But the AFC North, one of the most competitive divisions in football was still up for grabs, and still is after Monday’s game. There’s also wild card spots still up for grabs.
Surprisingly, this game has no real bearing on the playoff hopes of many potential wild card teams. The Chargers, Chiefs and Texans all need wins in Week 17 and are unaffected by Monday’s game.
As far as the AFC North is concerned, Monday’s game had no bearing on the results. The Steelers and Bengals were always going to play for the division crown in Week 17. The Steelers dominated Cincinnati when the two teams played in Week 14.
In the hunt
Atlanta Falcons (6-9)
The NFC is pretty much locked up, when it comes to which teams are actually going to make the postseason. We know that the Seahawks, Lions, Cowboys, Packers and Cardinals are five of the teams that will be represented. What we don’t know is which team will represent the NFC South — the Panthers or the Falcons — and what the seeding will look like among those teams that have already made it.
Seattle took over the No. 1 seed with a dominant win over the Cardinals on Sunday, while the Lions maintained their lead over the Packers in the NFC North, thanks to the fact that they hold the tiebreak over them. They’re currently the second seed, with the tiebreak over Dallas based on conference win percentage. Dallas is the third seed, while the winner of the NFC South will take the four seed.
The New Orleans Saints were eliminated from contention when they lost to the Falcons and the Panthers won their game on Sunday. Now, the Panthers and Falcons will face off in a win-and-in situation in Week 17.
The wild card spots are currently held by Green Bay and Arizona. Green Bay wins the tie break over Arizona based on a better win percentage in common games. But Green Bay can still win the NFC North as they’ll play the Lions in Week 17, while Arizona can win the NFC West if they beat the San Francisco 49ers and the Seahawks lose to the St. Louis Rams.