NFL Playoff Picture: Which Contenders Can Clinch in Week 16?

NFL Playoff Picture: Which Contenders Can Clinch in Week 16?

With the inclusion of an extra game on this year’s schedule, there is an added wrinkle to the usual late-season NFL playoff drama that occurs every NFL season.

The first playoff berth was finally clinched in Week 15, as the Green Bay Packers locked up the NFC North title in Baltimore. While the Packers can now focus on wrapping up homefield advantage and a possible NFL MVP for Aaron Rodgers, who will next join them in the field?

NFC East & NFC South All But Clinched for Cowboys, Bucs

In the NFC, much of the field should be filled in Week 16. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed out on a chance to clinch the NFC South on Sunday night, which saw them supplanted as Super Bowl favorites. But the Bucs have another chance to seal the deal when they visit the floundering Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The NFC East is also nearly a wrap. The Dallas Cowboys need one more win or one Eagles loss over the final three weeks. Even if the Eagles beat the Giants on Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys can make it a Sunday night party at AT&T with a win over Washington.

The NFC West may remain undecided until Week 18, as the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams are now tied for first. But both teams can secure an NFL playoff spot with a Week 16 win over challenging opposition. The Cardinals host the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, while the Rams visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Trio of Division Titles Could Be Settled in AFC in Week 16

In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans can all clinch in the coming week. All three could also win their respective divisions as well, leaving only the AFC North up for grabs.

For the Chiefs and Titans, one more win for themselves and one loss for their closest competition will do the trick. For the Patriots, a home win over the Bills on Sunday will give them a two-game AFC East lead, a season sweep, and a tiebreaker that would end the Bills’ pursuit of the division title.

As for the wild-card places and playoff seeds in each conference? That is where things really get wild and wide open, especially in the AFC. When all of one game separates the current fifth seed from the team currently in 13th, who knows what the outcome will be?

Just how wide open are things at the moment? Let’s take a look at the playoff picture in each conference.

NFL Playoff Picture – AFC


  • 1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
  • 2. New England Patriots (9-5)
  • 3. Tennessee Titans (9-5)
  • 4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
  • 5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
  • 6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
  • 7. Buffalo Bills (8-6)


  • 8. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
  • 9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)
  • 10. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)
  • 11. Miami Dolphins (7-7)
  • 12. Cleveland Browns (7-7)
  • 13. Denver Broncos (7-7)

NFL Playoff Picture – NFC


  • 1. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
  • 2. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
  • 3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4)
  • 4. Arizona Cardinals (10-4)
  • 5. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)
  • 6. San Francisco 49ers (8-6)
  • 7. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)


  • 8. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)
  • 9. New Orleans Saints (7-7)
  • 10. Washington Football Team (6-8)
  • 11. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)
  • 12. Carolina Panthers (5-9)
  • 13. Seattle Seahawks (5-9)
  • 14. New York Giants (4-10)

Prior to and during the season, sportsbooks offer odds on whether or not specific teams will qualify for the NFL playoffs. With the regular season now approaching the home stretch, the odds have been narrowed down to a group of hopefuls.

Let’s take a look at the available NFL playoff odds and the forecast for one team who’s in and one team who’s out in each conference.

Odds to Make the 2021-22 NFL Playoffs (as of December 22, 2021)

  • Baltimore Ravens: Yes -105, No -115
  • Buffalo Bills: Yes -425, No +325
  • Cincinnati Bengals: Yes -115, No -105
  • Denver Broncos: Yes +1000, No -2000
  • Indianapolis Colts: Yes -500, No +375
  • Los Angeles Chargers: Yes -300, No +230
  • Miami Dolphins: Yes +750, No -1400
  • New Orleans Saints: Yes +110, No -130
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: Yes +425, No -600
  • San Francisco 49ers: Yes -600, No +400

NFL playoff odds are from Caesars Sportsbook as of Wednesday, December 22, 2021.

By Eddie Griffin