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Playoff positioning still not completely determined

The NFL playoffs are shaping up with the NFC teams all decided, but not their positioning, and several scenarios still left to be decided in the AFC.

Here is where things stand before Monday night’s Week 16 game between the Broncos and Bengals that holds plenty of playoff implications. The playoffs are shaping up, but much is yet to be decided.


In the AFC, the New England Patriots’ loss to the Jets put their home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in jeopardy. The Patriots are 12-3 and Cincinnati could equal that record with a win on Monday night.

The Cincinnati Bengals are currently the No. 2 and have a chance to earn a first-round bye with a win Monday night against the Broncos.

The Denver Broncos, at 10-4, play the Bengals on Monday night. They are currently the third seed in the AFC, but they would clinch a playoff spot with a win Monday night against the Bengals.

The Houston Texans are the fourth seed for now, but the AFC South title isn’t decided yet. If Cincinnati beats Denver Monday night, the Texans clinch the AFC South and a playoff spot.

The Kansas City Chiefs have locked up a playoff spot at 10-5 and still have a chance to win the division. They are currently the fifth seed after following up a five-game losing streak with a nine-game winning streak, one of only two teams in NFL history to do that.

At 10-5, the New York Jets are the sixth seed for now, but they could still lose out on a playoff berth if they lose the Buffalo Bills in Week 17 and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns.

On the fringe: The Indianapolis Colts aren't out of it yet, but they would be if Cincinatti wins on Monday night. The Pittsburgh Steelers are still hoping for a wild card spot.


The Carolina Panthers currently have the advantage for home field throughout the playoffs with a 14-1 record, but their loss to the Atlanta Falcons put the top seed for the NFC up for grabs if the Panthers lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday.

The Arizona Cardinals clinched a first-round bye, securing one of the top two spots in the NFC, and have won the NFC West. But securing home-field advantage throughout is still up in the air. For that reason, the NFL flexed both the Cardinals and Panthers’ games to late afternoon next Sunday so they both have to play for home-field advantage.

The Green Bay Packers are currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC, but they could be knocked down to the fifth seed if they lose to the Vikings in Week 17. That game was flexed to Sunday night.

The Washington Redskins are the only team in the NFC locked into their current playoff seed, No. 4, as they have the worst record among division winners in the conference. They locked up the NFC East title on Saturday night, eliminating the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles in the process.

The Minnesota Vikings could end up with either the No. 3, No. 5 or No. 6 seed, depending on the outcome of the Week 17 games. They would need to beat the Packers to earn the No. 3 spot, but if they lose they would need the Seahawks to lose to Arizona to avoid being the No. 6 seed and travel back to Green Bay for the first round of the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks are currently the sixth seed in the NFC, despite losing to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. They had already wrapped up a playoff spot before that game but with a 9-6 record they could end up as either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed. If the Vikings and Seahawks both end up at 10-6, the Seahawks hold the advantage with a win in hand against the Vikings, which would give them the No. 5 seed.

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