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NFL playoff picture: Bengals clinch playoff spot with Jaguars’ win

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks following the Jaguars’ win over the Jets to open Week 16:


x – 1. Buffalo Bills (11-3), AFC East leaders: They retain inside track to remain in snowy Orchard Park throughout January and took another step toward that Saturday night by sewing up conference’s first playoff berth with win against Miami. Remaining schedule: at Bears, at Bengals, vs. Patriots   

y – 2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3), AFC West champions: Their Week 6 loss to Bills would currently mean road to the AFC crown goes through Buffalo. But on plus side, even if it took overtime to defeat the Houston Texans, K.C. won its seventh consecutive divisional title Sunday. And the upcoming schedule suggests the No. 1 seed remains a distinct possibility if the Bills trip. Remaining schedule: vs. Seahawks, vs. Broncos, at Raiders

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x – 3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-4), AFC North leaders: Defending AFC champs bypassed battered Ravens in division Saturday due to Baltimore’s loss at Cleveland and padded their lead by winning in Tampa on Sunday. They then secured a playoff spot Thursday after the Jaguars dispatched the Jets. However, Cincinnati faces a much more daunting schedule ahead of potentially pivotal Week 18 rematch with Ravens. Remaining schedule: at Patriots, vs. Bills, vs. Ravens

4. Tennessee Titans (7-7), AFC South leaders: Losers of four in a row, they look to be a one-and-done postseason squad for the third consecutive year … assuming they get that far with Jacksonville quickly closing on them in the division and with starting QB Ryan Tannehill out. Remaining schedule: vs. Texans, vs. Cowboys, at Jaguars

5. Baltimore Ravens (9-5), wild card No. 1: Near-term opponents look favorable, but Ravens couldn’t get past Browns on Saturday without injured QB Lamar Jackson, who will also be out in Week 16. They’ve already beaten Bengals, who they will play again in Week 18, and have better division record but offense has been sputtering without Jackson. Remaining schedule: vs. Falcons, vs. Steelers, at Bengals

6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6), wild card No. 2: QB Justin Herbert’s laser in the final minute helped Bolts pull rabbit out of a hat against Tennessee, jumping L.A. from eighth place to sixth – last week’s win over Miami enabling Chargers to overtake the Dolphins. Remaining schedule: at Colts, vs. Rams, at Broncos

7. Miami Dolphins (8-6), wild card No. 3: Third consecutive loss leaves them on playoff precipice. Remaining schedule: vs. Packers, at Patriots, vs. Jets 

8. New England Patriots (7-7), out of playoff field: Shocking loss to Raiders drops them out of wild-card position. Sweep of Jets keeps Pats ahead of New York. Remaining schedule: vs. Bengals, vs. Dolphins, at Bills

9. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8), out of playoff field: They’ve won five of seven to scratch their way back to relevance. Might be a bigger threat to AFC South-leading Titans than other wild-card aspirants. Remaining schedule: at Texans, vs. Titans

10. New York Jets (7-8), out of playoff field: Loss to Jacksonville, which jumped the Jets in the standings, was their fourth straight. Their playoff hopes are in jeopardy and giant question marks remain at QB after Zach Wilson was benched for Chris Streveler. Remaining schedule: at Seahawks, at Dolphins 

11. Las Vegas Raiders (6-8), out of playoff field: Stunning loss to Rams in Week 14 erased by even more mind-bending escape from New England on Sunday. Remaining schedule: at Steelers, vs. 49ers, vs Chiefs

12. Cleveland Browns (6-8), out of playoff field: They’re obviously long shots but remaining opponents could give them a chance to sneak into the field if there’s adequate attrition of the teams currently in front of them. Remaining schedule: vs. Saints, at Commanders, at Steelers

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8), out of playoff field: Postseason still looks like a pipe dream, especially with coach Mike Tomlin’s first losing season one defeat away. And yet running the table isn’t out of the question. Remaining schedule: vs. Raiders, at Ravens, vs. Browns


x – 1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-1), NFC East leaders: Tough win in Chicago but it kept Philly two games clear of the field in ongoing bid to secure No. 1 seed. Eagles will win NFC East, first-round bye and home-field advantage by beating Dallas in Week 16. Remaining schedule: at Cowboys, vs. Saints, vs. Giants

y – 2. Minnesota Vikings (11-3), NFC North champions: Historic comeback from 33-point deficit to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon, the largest in league history in the regular season or playoffs, allowed Vikes to win division and remain in distant contention for first-round bye and home-field advantage. Remaining schedule: vs. Giants, at Packers, at Bears

y – 3. San Francisco 49ers (10-4), NFC West champions: The first team to clinch a divisional crown in the 2022 season thanks to last Thursday night’s win at Seattle. The Niners’ previous two NFC West titles (2012, 2019) led to Super Bowl berths. Remaining schedule: vs. Commanders, at Raiders, vs. Cardinals 

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8), NFC South leaders: They squandered a 17-0 lead over Cincinnati on Sunday, dropping their third game in past four weeks. But Week 15 wasn’t all bad, both the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons losing. That leaves all of the Bucs’ divisional pursuers, including the New Orleans Saints, with 5-9 ledgers. Remaining schedule: at Cardinals, vs. Panthers, at Falcons

x – 5. Dallas Cowboys (10-4), wild card No. 1: Overtime loss at Jacksonville cost them opportunity to clinch postseason berth between the lines. However Commanders’ defeat Sunday night secured a spot for Dallas, which must now run the table and hope Philadelphia loses out to do better than a wild card. Remaining schedule: vs. Eagles, at Titans, at Commanders

6. New York Giants (8-5-1), wild card No. 2: They stopped the bleeding against Washington and exponentially boosted their chances of a surprise playoff entry … even if, sorry Big Blue fans, you helped Dallas. Remaining schedule: at Vikings, vs. Colts, at Eagles

7. Washington Commanders (7-6-1), wild card No. 3: They still control playoff destiny, but upcoming trip to Silicon Valley could quickly change that. Remaining schedule: at 49ers, vs. Browns, vs. Cowboys

8. Seattle Seahawks (7-7), out of playoff field: Last Thursday’s loss was their fourth in the past five games as they continue to fall off the playoff pace with two tough contests ahead. Week 4 win at Detroit keeps them ahead of Lions. Remaining schedule: at Chiefs, vs. Jets, vs. Rams

9. Detroit Lions (7-7), out of playoff field: Long-shot bid for NFC North throne officially evaporated Saturday. But odds growing they could become first team since 1990 to overcome 1-6 start and reach playoffs after barely surviving Jets on Sunday. Remaining schedule: at Panthers, vs. Bears, at Packers

10. Green Bay Packers (6-8), out of playoff field: The Packers need to win out and get a lot of help to reach the postseason for fourth consecutive season. Remaining schedule: at Dolphins, vs. Vikings, vs. Lions

x – clinched berth

y – clinched division


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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