The holiday season is upon us and the NFL has a busy Christmas weekend of Week 16 football. This year’s slate features 11 games on Saturday and three on Sunday, and there are plenty of playoff implications for most of these games.
The week opened with the Jaguars thumping the Jets on Thursday Night Football. Those two are now 7-8 and tied for ninth in the AFC standings. The Jaguars are hot on the heels of the Titans and if Tennessee loses to Houston on Saturday, Jacksonville would take over first place in the division.
Saturday is a busier day for the playoff picture than Sunday, but both days are important. The NFC South could get some clarity across the two days, or it could be turned into even more of a mess. The Bills could lock up the AFC East and the Bengals could move a step closer to the AFC North title. The Eagles will figure out where they stand with Gardner Minshew at quarterback, while the Vikings and 49ers will have an eye on them to see if there could be a small opening in the race for the No. 1 seed.
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The Browns playoff chances are officially over. The Saints beat them 17-10 and Cleveland is let to play out the string. New Orleans remains alive in the NFC South race. In that race, the Panthers beat the Lions 37-23 while the Falcons lost 17-9 to the Ravens. All three teams now await Sunday’s Bucs-Cardinals game. Atlanta will be eliminated from playoff contention if Tampa beats Arizona.
The Bills and Chiefs both won on Saturday. Buffalo clinched the AFC East title with the win while Kansas City stays hot on their heels for the No. 1 overall seed. Buffalo can clinch the No. 1 seed in Week 17 with a win and a Chiefs loss. The Bengals beat the Patriots 22-18, which helped the Ravens clinch a playoff berth. Cincinnati remains a game up on Baltimore in the AFC North.
In the NFC, the Vikings remained on pace behind the Eagles, beating the Giants on a 61-yard field goal as time expired. They will remain at least a game up on the 49ers after this weekend.
The early window wrapped with a big, but not shocking upset in Nashville. The Titans sent out Malik Willis at quarterback and struggled in a 19-14 loss to the Texans. The Jaguars now find themselves in first place in the AFC South due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. The division title will come down to Week 18 in Jacksonville.
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The Cowboys got a much-needed win over the Eagles to cut Philadelphia’s division lead to two games with two weeks remaining. With Jalen Hurts’ status uncertain the final two weeks, the division is still up for grabs. On the west coast, the 49ers beat the Commanders. Both teams remain in their respective third and seventh spots in the playoff standings.
Saturday PM update
The Steelers beat the Raiders 13-10 to push Las Vegas to the verge of playoff elimination. If the Dolphins beat the Packers and the Chargers beat the Colts, both Pittsburgh and Las Vegas will be eliminated from playoff contention.
The Packers defeat the Dolphins to cap off an awesome Week 16 for Green Bay when it comes to the playoff picture. The Packers need to win out still, but gain a game on everyone they are chasing in this wild card race.
The Bucs beat the Cardinals to improve to 7-8 and retain their NFC South lead. Tampa can clinch the division title in Week 17 with a win over the Panthers.
The Chargers beat the Colts to clinch a playoff berth in the final game of Week 16. They have a one-game lead on the Dolphins for the No. 6 seed in the AFC standings.
Here’s a look at what the playoff picture looks like as Week 16 moves along. We’ll update through each window as the league works its way toward Week 17.
AFC playoff picture
8. New England Patriots, 7-8
9. Tennessee Titans, 7-8
10. New York Jets, 7-8
11. Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-8
12. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-9
13. Cleveland Browns, 6-9 — eliminated
14. Indianapolis Colts, 4-10-1 — eliminated
15. Denver Broncos, 4-11 — eliminated
16. Houston Texans, 2-12-1 — eliminated
NFC playoff picture
8. Seattle Seahawks, 7-8
9. Detroit Lions, 7-8
10. Green Bay Packers, 7-8
11. Carolina Panthers, 6-9
12. New Orleans Saints, 6-9
13. Atlanta Falcons 5-10 — eliminated
14. Los Angeles Rams, 5-10 — eliminated
15. Arizona Cardinals, 4-11 — eliminated
16. Chicago Bears, 3-12 — eliminated