Dec 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws a pass during the second quarter of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Sorting out Sunday’s Craziness: Observations from Week 16 and Playoff Scenarios


What a wild Week 16 that was. There were some blowouts, upsets, and close finishes, which sets us up for what should be an exciting regular season finale.

Here are some things that stood out on Sunday.

  • Just how good is Carolina? Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and the Panthers clinched a playoff spot and most likely the NFC South in addition to the 2nd seed in the NFC with their huge win over the Saints. Luke Kuechly is a legitimate candidate for defensive player of the year. He led the Panthers with 24(!) tackles on Sunday.
  • Peyton Manning broke Tom Brady’s record for the most touchdown passes in one season, with 51, and he did it in just 15 games.
  • Seattle lost at home for the first time in two years. This is Russell Wilson’s first home loss ever in the pros.
  • The team that beat Seattle is the Arizona Cardinals, which, by the way, is 10-5. They might be a top four team in the NFC and still need a lot of help to get into the tournament.
  • The refs were absolutely atrocious on Sunday. They missed calls during the entire Baltimore-New England game, and the Steelers were on the wrong end of a significant call.
  • Indianapolis won a huge road game at Kansas City. Those two teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Detroit was eliminated from playoff contention after the Giants beat them in overtime on Sunday. They’ve imploded after blowing the Packers out on Thanksgiving.
  • All four AFC divisions have been decided (Denver, Cincinnati, New England, and Indianapolis), while none of the NFC divisions have been decided.

NFC Playoff Picture and Scenarios

Right now, in order from 1st to 6th seed, the NFC looks like this: Seattle, Carolina, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Two games are being played for division titles this week: Dallas hosts Philadelphia for the NFC East title and Chicago hosts Green Bay for the North.

Only Seattle and Carolina have clinched playoff berths. No division has been decided yet.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Clinches the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout playoffs with:

SEA win or tie

OR

one SF loss or tie

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Clinches the NFC South title and a first-round bye with:

CAR win or tie

OR

NO loss or tie

Clinches home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with:

CAR win + SEA loss + two SF wins

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Clinches the NFC East title with:

PHI win or tie

CHICAGO BEARS

Clinches the NFC North title with:

CHI win or tie

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Clinches the NFC West title and a first-round bye with:

two SF wins + SEA loss

Clinches the NFC West division title and home-field advantage with:

two SF wins + SEA loss + CAR loss or tie

Clinches a playoff berth with:

one SF win

OR

SF tie this week + NO loss

OR

SF tie next week

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Clinches the NFC South title and a first-round bye with:

NO win + CAR loss

Clinches a playoff berth with:

NO win

OR

NO tie + SF loss or tie this week

OR

NO tie + ARI loss or tie

OR

ARI loss

OR

two SF losses

DALLAS COWBOYS

Clinches the NFC East title with:

DAL win

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Clinches the NFC North title with:

GB win

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Clinches a playoff berth with:

ARI win + SF loss this week

OR

ARI win + NO loss or tie

OR

ARI tie + NO loss

AFC Playoff Picture and Scenarios

In the AFC, five out of the six playoff teams have been decided (Denver, Cincinnati, New England, Indianapolis, and Kansas City). The former four have won their respective divisions and the Chiefs are locked in as the fifth seed.

The sixth seed is up for grabs, however, with the Dolphins, Ravens, Chargers, and Steelers all vying for one spot. Miami needs the least help to reach the postseason while Pittsburgh needs the most.

DENVER BRONCOS

Clinches home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with:

DEN win or tie

OR

NE loss or tie

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Clinches a first-round bye with:

NE win or tie

OR

CIN loss or tie + IND loss or tie

Clinches home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with:

NE win + DEN loss

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Clinches a first-round bye with:

CIN win + NE loss

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Clinches a first-round bye with:

IND win + NE loss + CIN loss or tie

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Clinches a playoff berth with:

MIA win + BAL loss or tie

OR

MIA win + SD win

OR

MIA tie + BAL loss + SD loss or tie

OR

MIA tie + BAL tie + SD tie

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Clinches a playoff berth with:

BAL win + SD loss or tie

OR

BAL win + MIA loss or tie

OR

BAL tie + MIA loss + SD loss or tie

OR

BAL tie + MIA tie + SD loss

OR

MIA loss + SD loss + PIT loss or tie

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Clinches a playoff berth with:

SD win + MIA loss or tie + BAL loss or tie

OR

SD tie + MIA loss + BAL loss

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Clinches a playoff berth with:

PIT win + MIA loss + BAL loss + SD loss

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Kansas City is locked in as the fifth seed in the AFC.

Follow Rishi on Twitter @NotTheFakePochi

Follow NFL Spin Zone on Twitter @NFLSpinZone

Tags: Arizona Cardinals Baltimore Ravens Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos Featured Green Bay Packers Indianapolis Colts Kansas City Chiefs Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New Orleans Saints NFL Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh Steelers Popular San Diego Chargers San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks

  • Richard Hedrick

    Ummm…4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 5 fumbles and KC was kept to 155 yards rushing (47 from your QB)…don’t think the calls made much difference.