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The NFL playoff picture heading into Monday night's game

9:56 AM, Dec 17, 2012   |    comments
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Unless you're a Jets fan, you're likely looking ahead to Week 16 to determine your team's chances of making the postseason. The Broncos, Redskins, Vikings and Cowboys certainly made big strides Sunday while the Giants, Steelers and Bears just made their roads to the playoffs much more complicated.

With five NFC teams sitting at 8-6, there is still plenty to be determined in the regular season's final two weeks, but here's where we stand heading into Monday night.

AFC

First Round Byes
(1) Houston Texans (12-2)
Sunday's 29-17 win over Indianapolis clinches the AFC South title.
Remaining opponents: Minnesota (8-6), at Indianapolis (9-5)

(2) Denver Broncos (11-3)
The AFC West champs dominated Baltimore 34-17 and got some extra help from San Francisco as New England's loss gives Denver a one-game lead in the conference standings.
Remaining opponents: Cleveland (5-9), Kansas City (2-12)

Wild Card Round
(6) Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) at (3) New England Patriots (10-4)
Sunday night's loss to the 49ers was likely the last formidable challenge for the Patriots in the regular season. The Bengals currently hold the conference's final playoff spot but will have that tested next week at Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati remaining opponents: at Pittsburgh (7-7), Baltimore (9-5)
New England remaining opponents: at Jacksonville (2-12), Miami (6-8)

(5) Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at (4) Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
Pittsburgh's loss makes a wild-card spot closer for the Colts, who were a one-win team just a year ago. It also clinched a playoff berth for the reeling Ravens, who seemed a certainty to win the AFC North just weeks ago.
Indianapolis remaining opponents: at Kansas City (2-12), Houston (12-2)
Baltimore remaining opponents: New York Giants (8-6), at Cincinnati (8-6)

Looking In
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
The Steelers now face a must-win game at home next Sunday versus Cincinnati.
Remaining opponents: Cincinnati (8-6), Cleveland (5-9)

New York Jets (6-7)
The Jets need to beat Tennessee Monday night to maintain their slim postseason chances.
Remaining opponents: at Tennessee (4-9), San Diego (5-9), at Buffalo (5-9)

Miami Dolphins (6-8)
Technically they're still in it.
Remaining opponents: Buffalo (5-9), at New England (10-4)

NFC

First Round Byes
1) Atlanta Falcons (12-2)
The NFC South champs have now opened a decent margin over the rest of the conference and can clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win next week at Detroit.
Remaining opponents: at Detroit (4-10), Tampa Bay (6-8)

2) San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1)
The NFC West leaders earned some breathing room heading into next Sunday night's showdown with the Seahawks, clinching a playoff spot with their win against New England.
Remaining opponents: at Seattle (9-5), Arizona (5-9)

Wild Card Round

(6) Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at (3) Green Bay Packers (10-4)
The Packers clinched the NFC North with a 21-13 win over the Bears. Dallas' win over Pittsburgh now throws the final NFC wild-card spot into a four-team tie, in which the Vikings currently own the tiebreaker.
Minnesota remaining opponents: at Houston (12-2), Green Bay (10-4)
Green Bay remaining opponents: Tennessee (4-9), at Minnesota (8-6)

(5) Seattle Seahawks (9-5) at (4) Washington Redskins (8-6)
The Seahawks have put up two consecutive 50+ point showings heading into a key NFC West matchup with the 49ers. The Redskins now control their own destiny with two division games to close out the regular season.
Seattle remaining opponents: San Francisco (10-3-1), St. Louis (6-7-1)
Washington remaining opponents: at Philadelphia (4-10), Dallas (8-6)

Looking In:

New York Giants (8-6)
The Giants are currently tied for both the NFC East lead and NFC's final wild card spot, but if the season ended today they would lose out on both based on tiebreakers.
Remaining opponents: at Baltimore (9-5), Philadelphia (4-10)

Chicago Bears (8-6)
The Bears remain in the hunt for the final wild card spot as one of five NFC teams with an 8-6 record.
Remaining opponents: at Arizona (5-9), at Detroit (4-10)

Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
The Week 17 showdown with the Redskins could end up determining the NFC East.
Remaining opponents: New Orleans (6-8), at Washington (8-6)

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