NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Surging Miami Dolphins move into AFC wild-card spot

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks with Week 16‘s action complete: 

AFC

y – 1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4), AFC West champions: How it started? Three wins in their first seven games. How it’s going? Winners of eight in a row, the best ongoing streak in the league, and first team in conference to secure a playoff spot – Bolts’ stunning loss at Houston giving K.C. division crown for sixth consecutive season. Chiefs control path to home-field advantage for the third time in four seasons, but must keep lurking Titans at bay. Remaining schedule: at Bengals, at Broncos

2. Tennessee Titans (10-5), AFC South leaders: Win over Niners moved them a step closer to repeating as division champs. Week 7 blowout of Kansas City gives Titans shot at claiming No. 1 seed in coming weeks. Remaining schedule: vs. Dolphins, at Texans

3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6), AFC North leaders: After finishing sweep of Ravens in spectacular fashion, they’re now one win from securing division crown for first time since 2015. Cincy’s 7-3 record in conference games keeps them ahead of Buffalo. Remaining schedule: vs. Chiefs, at Browns

4. Buffalo Bills (9-6), AFC East leaders: If they win out – a probability given their schedule, especially in light of Sunday’s win at New England – Bills will retain division crown. Remaining schedule: vs. Falcons, vs. Jets

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5. Indianapolis Colts (9-6), wild card No. 1: Winners of nine of their past 12, they must finish with a better record than the Titans, who swept Indianapolis, to snatch AFC South. But Christmas night win in Arizona makes Colts a good bet to advance. Remaining schedule: vs. Raiders, at Jaguars

6. New England Patriots (9-6), wild card No. 2: Just a few weeks ago, they were atop conference. But after surrendering first place in AFC East, they must stop bleeding. Remaining schedule: vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins

7. Miami Dolphins (8-7), wild card No. 3: Improbable climb continues, their seven-game winning streak moving them above .500 for first time since Week 1 – and up four spots in AFC field courtesy of Monday’s victory. Fins’ 5-5 record against AFC teams helps, and they hold common games tiebreaker over Chargers. Remaining schedule: at Titans, vs. Patriots

As of Monday night, the Dolphins can celebrate being a projected AFC playoff squad.

8. Baltimore Ravens (8-7), out of playoff field: Miami’s win Monday punted them from projected playoff field, probably a deserved fate given Ravens’ four-game slide down the AFC mountain. Remaining schedule: vs. Rams, vs. Steelers

9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7), out of playoff field: They got hit hard by COVID-19 last week, but that’s no excuse for losing to the Texans. As damaging a loss as any team has suffered this season as Bolts lose grip on a wild-card spot. Remaining schedule: vs. Broncos, at Raiders

10. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7), out of playoff field: Sunday’s win over Broncos was huge, but Vegas needs to keep its hot hand against a hotter Indy team in Week 17 and salvage a split with Bolts in Week 18. Remaining schedule: at Colts, vs. Chargers

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1), out of playoff field: They looked lifeless in Kansas City. But opportunity remains with equally comatose Cleveland and Baltimore ahead. Remaining schedule: vs. Browns, at Ravens

12. Cleveland Browns (7-8), out of playoff field: Only saving grace following Saturday’s loss in Green Bay is that their final two games are against AFC North rivals. Remaining schedule: at Steelers, vs. Bengals

13. Denver Broncos (7-8), out of playoff field: Tiebreakers, time and quality of opponents very much working against them after crippling losses to Cincinnati and Las Vegas. Remaining schedule: at Chargers, vs. Chiefs

NFC

y – 1. Green Bay Packers (12-3), NFC North champions: They own league’s best record and remain on track to secure No. 1 seed for second straight year following Christmas win over Cleveland. It’s possible Pack wrap up home-field advantage and first-round bye in Week 17. Remaining schedule: vs. Vikings, at Lions

y – 2. Dallas Cowboys (11-4), NFC East champions: They locked up a playoff spot Thursday courtesy of San Francisco’s loss and wrapped up the division before taking the field Sunday night thanks to the strength of victory tiebreaker eliminating Philadelphia from the equation. Dallas – 5-0 against NFC East competition – still has time to reel in No. 1 seed, too. Remaining schedule: vs. Cardinals, at Eagles

x – 3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4), NFC West leaders:Sunday’s win in Minnesota and Arizona’s Christmas night loss to Colts vaults LA atop division – and also enabled Rams to wrap up their playoff spot. Week 3 win over Bucs looming as important tiebreaker. Remaining schedule: at Ravens, vs. 49ers

y – 4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4), NFC South champions:Division titlists for first time since 2007 and still in mix for No. 1 seed – especially given likelihood Bucs reach 13 wins considering remaining regular-season opponents. Remaining schedule: at Jets, vs. Panthers

x – 5. Arizona Cardinals (10-5), wild card No. 1: Another second-half collapse under Kliff Kingsbury seems to be underway, Cards having now lost three in a row and five of eight. Ironically, the Rams – the same team that’s displaced Arizona atop NFC West – put Cardinals into playoff field Sunday by beating Minnesota. Remaining schedule: at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks

6. San Francisco 49ers (8-7), wild card No. 2: Missed quite a few opportunities during Thursday’s loss in Nashville. They have some margin for error courtesy of a 6-5 conference record that includes wins over the Vikings and Eagles but might have to move forward with rookie QB Trey Lance. Remaining schedule: vs. Texans, at Rams 

7. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7), wild card No. 3: Late-season charge continues as they won for the fifth time in their last six games Sunday by smoking the New York Giants. Week 11 defeat of Saints could prove a pivotal tiebreaker. Remaining schedule: at Washington, vs. Cowboys

8. Minnesota Vikings (7-8), out of playoff field: Debilitating loss to Rams on Sunday punted Vikes from wild-card position. Completing season sweep of Green Bay at Lambeau Field is a big ask. Superior record in conference games (5-5) trumps Atlanta. Remaining schedule: at Packers, vs. Bears

9. Atlanta Falcons (7-8), out of playoff field: Still hanging around after escaping Lions on Sunday. But 4-7 conference record and upcoming schedule among factors working against ATL, though it does have win over Saints in hand. Remaining schedule: at Bills, vs. Saints

10. New Orleans Saints (7-8), out of playoff field: COVID-depleted team looked lost Monday and lost two spots in conference standings. Remaining schedule: vs. Panthers, at Falcons

x – clinched berth

y – clinched division

***

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

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