NFL playoff picture 2021 – Standings, brackets, scenarios after Christmas Day video games, plus Week 16 outlook

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Things are beginning to get severe for the Cardinals. They misplaced their third consecutive sport on Saturday evening, this time by a rating of 22-16 to the depleted Colts, and within the course of have fallen out of first place within the NFC West. They might clinch a playoff spot as early as Sunday, nevertheless it’s honest to query the way forward for any staff taking part in the way in which the Cardinals are through the stretch run.

The NFL nonetheless has solely two confirmed playoff teams — the Packers and Cowboys — however a complete of six groups which have playoff clinching scenarios for Sunday. That record contains the Chiefs, Patriots, Titans, Rams, Buccaneers and Cardinals.

What follows is a preview of our weekly snapshot of the NFL’s playoff picture, incorporating ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) and a little bit of our personal instincts to provide you a way of the stakes. We’ve threaded playoff and/or division clinching scenarios for a handful of groups, and we’ll replace the way it all labored out on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Note: X denotes a staff that has clinched a playoff berth, Y exhibits a staff that has clinched its division and Z signifies a staff that has secured a primary-spherical bye.

Jump to: AFC | NFC

AFC

FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI possibilities to win division: 93%

The Chiefs had been at one level 3-4, however they’ve received seven consecutive video games and are getting higher outcomes — if not higher play-to-play effectivity — than any staff within the NFL. They not have to fret about dropping the pinnacle-to-head tiebreaker with the Chargers, and so they can clinch the AFC West this weekend with a win over the Steelers and a Chargers loss to the Texans. And they’ve a 46% likelihood to get the primary-spherical bye, per ESPN’s FPI. The Chiefs also can merely clinch a playoff berth this week with a win.

Remaining schedule: vs. Steelers, at Bengals, at Broncos


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI possibilities to win division: 95%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: vs. Chargers

The Titans had misplaced three of their previous 4 video games earlier than Thursday evening’s comeback victory over the 49ers. The win knocked them up one spot within the AFC standings, however the Patriots will leapfrog them with a win Sunday towards the Bills. The Titans will clinch a playoff spot with losses by the Dolphins, Bills, Broncos and Steelers, or losses by the Dolphins, Bills, Broncos and Ravens.

Remaining schedule: vs. Dolphins, at Texans


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 98%
FPI possibilities to win division: 55%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: vs. Bills

Week 15’s loss to the Colts snapped the Patriots’ seven-sport successful streak and dropped them from the highest of the AFC. It additionally arrange an enormous AFC East sport on Sunday: The Patriots will host the Bills, with the winner taking management of the division. It will not be a real AFC East championship sport, as a result of neither staff can clinch it with a victory alone. But the Patriots might clinch in the event that they win the sport and the Dolphins lose to the Saints on Monday. To clinch a playoff spot, the Patriots would want to win and get both losses by the Raiders and Chargers, or losses by the Ravens and Steelers.

Remaining schedule: vs. Bills, vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 54%
FPI possibilities to win division: 45%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: vs. Colts

The Bengals snapped their two-sport dropping streak and ascended to the highest of the AFC North. They have the non permanent head-to-head tiebreaker over the Ravens, however as luck would have it, the groups will meet on Sunday. Neither would clinch the division title with a win, however it can clearly be an enormous leverage sport for each groups. If the Bengals win, their one-sport lead within the win/loss column would actually be a two-sport lead due to the everlasting head-to-head tiebreaker. So they’re going to win the AFC North in the event that they win their remaining video games.

Remaining schedule: vs. Ravens, vs. Chiefs, at Browns


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 95%
FPI possibilities to win division: 5%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: at Bengals

The Colts produced a fairly wonderful victory Saturday evening in Arizona, taking part in with out most of their beginning offensive line in addition to star linebacker Darius Leonard, who examined optimistic for COVID-19 earlier within the day. The win allowed the Colts to remain alive within the AFC South race — they might have been eradicated with a loss — and strengthened their bid for a wild-card spot. ESPN’s FPI considers a playoff spot a close to-lock at this level. The Colts have received six of their previous seven video games, and with two extra very winnable video games on their schedule, they might enter the playoffs on fairly a run of success.

Remaining schedule: vs. Raiders, at Jaguars

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Jonathan Taylor will get unfastened for a 43-yard run. Later within the drive, T.Y. Hilton catches a 1-yard landing.


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 71%
FPI possibilities to win division: 6%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: at Patriots

The Chargers are in place for a wild-card playoff berth. It could be simply their second journey to the postseason previously eight years. They had a authentic likelihood to overhaul the Chiefs within the AFC West final week, and it stays a statistical risk going ahead, nevertheless it’ll require assist from a Chiefs staff that has developed a bunch of expertise in closing out postseason place through the previous few years.

Remaining schedule: at Texans, vs. Broncos, at Raiders


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 84%
FPI possibilities to win division: 45%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: at Titans

At the second, the Bills maintain the frequent-video games tiebreaker over Baltimore. The FPI is giving the Bills an ideal likelihood to make the playoffs, and their sport on the Patriots offers them an opportunity to take over the AFC East lead. The Patriots are favored in that sport for plenty of causes, and rightfully so, however should you had advised the Bills just a few weeks in the past that they might have an opportunity to retake the division lead in late December, they might have thought of themselves lucky. They’ll win the AFC East in the event that they win their remaining video games.

Remaining schedule: at Patriots, vs. Falcons, vs. Jets


In the AFC hunt

Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

The Ravens are so decimated by accidents and COVID-19 losses that coach John Harbaugh has felt compelled to go for a sport-successful 2-level play twice previously three weeks reasonably than take his possibilities in extra time. They have misplaced each video games and are actually on a playoff-crushing three-sport dropping streak. The Ravens can have an opportunity to show it round on the Bengals, however the FPI is giving them solely a 49% likelihood to make the playoffs, and their division title odds are simply 35%.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)

The Steelers’ degree of issue is about to go up. Sunday’s matchup on the Chiefs, the most popular staff in soccer, will not be the type of sport they need whereas attempting to remain inside an affordable distance of the race. The FPI is giving Pittsburgh an 16% likelihood to make it to the postseason.

Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

The FPI now offers the Raiders a 9% likelihood of advancing to the postseason. All wins depend the identical within the standings, however should you watched the Raiders battle to beat a staff of Browns backups final week, you most likely haven’t got a lot confidence of their possibilities, given upcoming video games towards the Broncos, Colts and Chargers.

Miami Dolphins (7-7)

Give some credit score to the Dolphins for merely stepping into this dialog. They have adopted a seven-sport dropping streak with a six-sport successful streak and have one other winnable sport on Monday on the Saints. Their possibilities to make the playoffs are nonetheless fairly minuscule at 5%, per the FPI, however they exist.

Denver Broncos (7-7)

The Broncos’ playoff possibilities are actually 8%, in keeping with the FPI. They have a winnable sport this week on the Raiders, however with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) probably sidelined, their postseason outlook is bleak.

Cleveland Browns (7-8)

Saturday evening’s loss to the Packers did not remove the Browns from the playoffs, given the traditionally shut nature of the AFC North, nevertheless it might occur as early as Sunday. They’ll be eradicated if the Ravens, Bills, Raiders, Chargers and Steelers all win. ESPN’s FPI says they’ve an 11% likelihood to make the playoffs.

NFC

FPI possibilities to make playoffs: Clinched
FPI possibilities to win division: Clinched

The Packers confronted a fairly wild and divergent set of circumstances Saturday evening. Had the Browns accomplished their comeback and left Lambeau Field with a win, the Packers would have confronted the robust risk of falling out of the highest seed within the NFC. All it will have taken was the Cowboys successful a house sport towards Washington, an final result that will have elevated the Cowboys to No. 1. Instead, the Packers held off the Browns and saved themselves in robust place to make sure residence-discipline benefit within the playoffs (84% probably, per ESPN’s FPI). They are actually 7-0 at Lambeau Field this season and 20-3 since coach Matt LaFleur was employed in 2019.

Remaining schedule: vs. Vikings, at Lions

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Aaron Rodgers hyperlinks up with Davante Adams for 2 touchdowns within the first half.


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: Clinched
FPI possibilities to win division: 99%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: vs. Vikings

The 49ers’ loss Thursday evening clinched a playoff spot for the Cowboys. But Dallas has greater objectives in thoughts. The Cowboys have received three consecutive video games after dropping three of 4. They have moved forward of the Rams, Cardinals and Buccaneers because of a greater convention report, and so they proceed to be the overwhelming favorites to win the NFC East. In reality, they’ll clinch the division on Sunday evening with a victory over Washington. And they’ll safe the division title even when they lose to Washington — that may occur if the Eagles lose to the Giants or if the Cowboys clinch a energy-of-victory tiebreaker over the Eagles.

Remaining schedule: vs. Washington, vs. Cardinals, at Eagles


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI possibilities to win division: 57%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: vs. 49ers

The Rams took over the lead within the division after the Cardinals’ loss on Saturday evening. Amazingly, ESPN’s FPI now considers them the favorites within the NFC West. They have a number of scenarios for clinching a playoff spot in Week 16, too. Most merely, they’re going to safe a spot in the event that they beat the Vikings. If they lose in Minnesota, the Rams can nonetheless lock in a spot with losses by the Saints and Eagles. If nothing else, nonetheless, the Rams are holding the warmth on the Cardinals.

Remaining schedule: at Vikings, at Ravens, vs. 49ers


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI possibilities to win division: 99%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: vs. Cardinals

The Buccaneers had been overtaken at the very least in the meanwhile by the Cowboys final weekend, however they’ll clinch the NFC South on Sunday with a win. How will they be affected by accidents suffered in Week 15 to receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and working again Leonard Fournette? Regardless, the Buccaneers can clinch a playoff berth even with out wining. They’ll achieve this if the Vikings and Eagles lose, or the Vikings lose and the Cowboys win, or the Vikings lose and the Cowboys clinch at the very least a tie of their energy of victory tiebreaker with the Eagles.

Remaining schedule: at Panthers, at Jets, vs. Panthers


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI possibilities to win division: 43%
Current projected first-spherical matchup: at Buccaneers

The Cardinals can clinch a playoff spot Sunday regardless of their three-sport dropping streak. It can occur with a loss by the Vikings, Saints or Eagles. They might additionally regain their spot atop the NFC West if the Rams lose in Minnesota. But on the very least, they’ve opened a door for the Rams whereas dropping management of the division for the primary time all season. ESPN’s FPI nonetheless considers the Cardinals a lock to get within the playoffs. But with the Cards dealing with a tricky sport towards the Cowboys subsequent week, the Rams are actually the FPI favorites to win the NFC West.

Remaining schedule: at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 70%
FPI possibilities to win division:
Current projected first-spherical matchup: at Rams

Despite Thursday evening’s loss, the 49ers remained squarely within the NFC wild-card race. If each the Vikings and Saints win Sunday, they 49ers will transfer right down to the No. 7 spot, however there doesn’t seem like a state of affairs through which they’d get knocked out of the highest seven. Plus, the Niners are lucky to have the Texans up subsequent on their schedule. If they can not beat the Texans at residence in Week 17, then they most likely do not should be within the playoffs.

Remaining schedule: vs. Texans, at Rams


FPI possibilities to make playoffs: 32%
FPI possibilities to win division: Eliminated
Current projected first-spherical matchup: at Cowboys

The Vikings maintain the frequent video games tiebreaker over the Eagles and the convention report benefit over the Saints. Despite being eradicated from the NFC North division race, they presently have the No. 7 seed and carry a 32% likelihood of creating the playoffs.

Remaining schedule: vs. Rams, at Packers, vs. Bears


In the NFC hunt

Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

The Eagles saved their foot within the playoff door, and their FPI possibilities now they stand at 35%. They head into one other very winnable sport towards the Giants.

New Orleans Saints (7-7)

The Saints secured an enormous victory in Week 15 that may assist them in myriad tiebreakers, together with division and convention report, and it is price noting that they do not have one other sport scheduled towards a staff that presently has a successful report. New Orleans’ FPI playoff odds are at 54%, and the Dolphins are up subsequent.

Washington Football Team (6-8)

Washington faces a fast-flip sport towards the Cowboys, and its FPI playoff likelihood is right down to 9%.

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