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NFL Playoff Picture, Brackets, Odds: Dolphins’ Chances Climbing; Rams, Bucs Swap Spots; Saints on the Brink

NFL Playoff Picture, Brackets, Odds: Dolphins’ Chances Climbing; Rams, Bucs Swap Spots; Saints on the Brink article feature image
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MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 18: Christian Wilkins #94 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates with Tua Tagovailoa #1 after he made his NFL debut against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

  • The Dolphins' playoff chances continue to boost as their winning streak reaches 7
  • The Buccaneers and Rams shuffled spots in the seeding
  • Read further to see our preview and model analysis regarding what each team's chances of making the postseason are.

Updated AFC Playoff Bracket After Monday Night Football

AFC
1. Chiefs (11-4)
2. Titans (10-5)
7. Dolphins (8-7)
3. Bengals (9-6)
6. Patriots (9-6)
4. Bills (9-6)
5. Colts (9-6)
Bubble: Chargers (8-7), Raiders (8-7), Ravens (8-7), Steelers (7-7-1), Browns (7-8), Broncos (7-8)

The Miami Dolphins entered Week 16 in the 11th spot in the playoff hunt.

Following a win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday — plus big-time help Sunday with the Ravens, Chargers and Patriots all taking losses — the Dolpins now controls its own destiny. How about that?

If they can snatch upset wins over Tennessee and New England to close out the year, they’ll punch a bid to the postseason.

The Dolphins, who have quietly ripped off seven straight wins, have a 25% chance to make the playoffs, according to the The Action Network’s Travis Reed‘s model.

Reed also gives the Ravens (32%) the best shot to slip in among the the three 8-7 teams on the bubble, edging the Chargers (28%) and Raiders (11%).

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Updated NFC Playoff Bracket After Monday Night Football

NFC
1. Packers (12-3)
2. Cowboys (11-4)
7. Eagles (8-7)
3. Rams (11-4)
6. 49ers (8-7)
4. Buccaneers (11-4)
5. Cardinals (10-5)
Bubble: Eagles (7-7), Saints (7-7), WFT (6-8) Falcons (6-8), Panthers (5-9), Seahawks (5-9), Giants (4-10)

It’s flat-out been a weird year for the Saints, who have wins over the Packers and Patriots this year — and two over the Buccaneers, who clinched the NFC South a mere 24 hours ago.

Yet, a loss to the ‘Fins — with Sean Payton’s quarterback room in jeopardy — now puts New Orleans on the brink of being left out.

It’ll be a favorite against Carolina in Week 17, but things could get interesting in the finale against the Falcons: Atlanta and New Orleans currently sit ninth and 10th, respectively.

The Vikings are still alive, with a 21% chance to clinch, per Reed.

Everyone one the bubble is essentially rooting for Washington to trip up Philadelphia in Week 17.

The 49ers are large favorites against Houston, with an 81% chance get a bid.

Updated AFC Playoff Bracket After Sunday Night Football

AFC
1. Chiefs (11-4)
2. Titans (10-5)
7. Ravens (8-7)
3. Bengals (9-6)
6. Patriots (9-6)
4. Bills (9-6)
5. Colts (9-6)
Bubble: Chargers (8-7), Raiders (8-7), Steelers (7-7-1), Dolphins (7-7), Broncos (7-8), Browns (7-8)

The Chargers have plummeted out of the AFC playoff picture after an embarrassing loss to the lowly Texans on Sunday. Los Angeles is on the outside looking in and needs some help moving forward to even make the playoffs. Chargers fans need to root against the Steelers and Ravens down the stretch and — less importantly — the Patriots and Colts.

Los Angeles plays the Broncos and Raiders to close out the season.

The Chiefs can now clinch the AFC West with a victory in the afternoon window over the Steelers.

The Bills have usurped the Patriots atop the AFC East. Buffalo is now the No. 4 seed and hold their own destiny because they own a tiebreaker over the Patriots. Winning out against the lowly Falcons and Jets would mean a second-straight AFC East title and a guaranteed home playoff game.

The Bengals now have control over the AFC North. While they have tough tests down the stretch against the Chiefs and Browns, Cincinnati is a game up on the Ravens and own the tiebreaker. The Ravens would have to win out against the Rams and Steelers and the Bengals would have to lose out in order for Baltimore to retake its spot atop the AFC North.

The Action Network’s Travis Reed’s model gives the Ravens only an 8% chance of doing so.

Meanwhile, the Colts improved their position from the No. 7 seed to No. 5 seed. Indy beat the Cardinals on Christmas Day.

The Steelers were momentarily in the No. 7 seed with the Chargers’ loss, but surrendered their advantageous position with a blowout loss to the Chiefs. The Ravens got their playoff position back as a result.

The Raiders still have a puncher’s chance to make the playoffs, but will need to win out and have the Ravens and Chargers lose as many games as possible down the stretch. Las Vegas plays two tough games to close their season — at the Colts and hosting the Chargers.

NFC Playoff Bracket After Sunday Night Football

NFC
1. Packers (12-3)
2. Cowboys (11-4)
7. Eagles (8-7)
3. Rams (11-4)
6. 49ers (8-7)
4. Buccaneers (11-4)
5. Cardinals (10-5)
Bubble: Vikings (7-8), Saints (7-7), Falcons (7-8), WFT (6-9)

The biggest change in the NFC playoff picture after the early games was the Eagles jumping into a Wild Card spot after beating the Giants. Philadelphia needs to beat Washington and Dallas to guarantee themselves a playoff spot for the first time since 2019.

The Vikings had previously held the seventh and final spot in the playoffs but lost to the Rams. Minnesota fans will be rooting against the Eagles, 49ers and Saints down the stretch. The Vikings have a daunting game at a motivated Green Bay next week before they close out the season at home against the Bears.

The Falcons kept themselves in the playoff conversation with a win over the Lions. They’ll need a ton of help, though. Atlanta needs to win out against the Bills and Saints and needs the Eagles, 49ers, Vikings and Saints to lose as many games as possible.

The Buccaneers and Rams both jumped the Cowboys on early Sunday afternoon with victories but Dallas destroyed the Washington Football Team on Sunday Night Football to hold serve and regain their No. 2 seed. The Cowboys also sealed up their first NFC East title since 2018.

No changes in the NFC occurred during the 4 p.m. late afternoon window. The Bears beat the Seahawks 25-24 to effectively eliminate Seattle from playoff contention, but with a 5-9 record entering this week, there was no real shot for them anyway.

NFC Playoff Bracket After Saturday’s Games

NFC
1. Packers (12-3)
2. Cowboys (10-4)
7. Vikings (7-7)
3. Buccaneers (10-4)
6. 49ers (8-7)
4. Rams (10-4)
5. Cardinals (10-5)
Bubble: Eagles (7-7), Saints (7-7), WFT (6-8) Falcons (6-8), Panthers (5-9), Seahawks (5-9), Giants (4-10)

Arizona has already clinched a playoff spot but dreams of Kyler Murray as MVP, Kliff Kingsbury as Coach of the Year and the Cardinals as the top seed seem so long ago.

The loss to the Colts Saturday dropped Arizona to 10-5 and into the No. 5 slot in the conference.

That’s three losses in a row for the Cardinals with the Cowboys and Seahawks remaining on the schedule.

With a 24-22 win over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday, the Packers will enter Week 17 with a hold of the No. 1 seed regardless of Sunday’s results. According to our simulations, the Packers have an 80% chance of earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

NFL Playoff Scenarios Before Christmas Day Games

Two massive Christmas Day games will determine the course of the AFC and NFC playoff picture.

The Browns will visit the Packers for the afternoon slot while the Colts play the Cardinals for the night cap.

If the Browns lose, they’re effectively eliminated from playoff contention. The Browns’ odds to make the playoffs are just 13% as of Saturday morning and they have a gauntlet to finish off the season. Besides playing at Green Bay, they need to win at the Pittsburgh Steelers and at home against the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals.

The Packers must win out in order to guarantee themselves the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye.

Beyond that, Aaron Rodgers is in poll position to nab back-to-back MVPs — and he’s going to keep his foot on the pedal as a result. Another MVP will undoubtedly cement his status as a top-five quarterback of all-time.

The Packers play the Browns, at the Vikings and host the Lions to close out the season. They have a roughly 68% chance of locking down the No. 1 seed, according to The Action Network’s Travis Reed’s model. Any Cowboys or Bucs loss would drastically improve their chances at the No. 1 seed.

Meanwhile, a Colts win would all but guarantee them a playoff spot. They currently have an 87% chance to make the playoffs, according to The Action Network’s model, but a win would launch them into the mid-90s.

A Titans win on Thursday Night Football will likely prevent the Colts from hosting a playoff game, though. Tennessee’s come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers moved the Titans’ odds to win the AFC South to 97.9%, according to the model.

The Titans had been down 10-0 at halftime before storming back in the second half to win 20-17.

The Tennessee Titans increased their odds of earning the AFC’s top seed to 29.7% with the upset win, too. That’s good for second-best in the AFC behind the Chiefs, who have a roughly 37% chance. The Patriots are a close third at 29%.

The 49ers saw their odds to make the playoffs drop from about 78% to 65% as a result of the loss. They’re currently slotted in the No. 6 seed in the NFC.

The Cardinals — who play the Colts on Christmas Day — have faltered in recent weeks, losing two straight, including an embarrassing 30-12 loss to the league-worst Detroit Lions.

While Arizona had a solid chance at the No. 1 seed earlier this month, they’re fighting for the division lead right now. The Cardinals are tied with the Los Angeles Rams atop the NFC West but hold the tiebreaker. Winning out would guarantee them a home playoff game.

The Cardinals face off against the Colts, Cowboys and Seahawks to close out the season. It’s a difficult schedule. Meanwhile, the Rams have the Vikings, Ravens and 49ers ahead of them.

For reference, DraftKings is giving the Cardinals -160 odds to win the division while the Rams are +135.

Before last week’s loss to the Lions, the Cardinals had been -650 favorites while the Rams were +550 underdogs.

Read more below for the latest playoff brackets and scenarios for Week 16 in both the AFC and NFC.

Updated AFC Playoff Bracket

AFC
1. Chiefs (10-4)
2. Titans (10-5)
7. Bills (8-6)
3. Patriots (9-5)
6. Chargers (8-6)
4. Bengals (8-6)
5. Colts (8-6)
Bubble: Ravens (8-6), Steelers (7-6-1), Raiders (7-7), Dolphins (7-7), Browns (7-7), Broncos (7-7)

The Titans’ win ties them with the Chiefs for 10 wins, the most in the AFC. Tennessee now has a 29.7% chance at earning the top seed, according to Reed’s simulations. The Chiefs have the best projection at 36.8%. New England is up there as well at 29% and a home game against the Buffalo Bills as a small favorite.

Although the Bills are underdogs this week, our simulations still give them an 81% chance at making the playoffs. Baltimore, currently on the outside looking in, has a 50% chance.

The Bengals are technically still alive for the top spot in the AFC, but their most-likely playoff seed is No. 4 (30.78%), according to our own Travis Reed’s projections.

NFC Playoff Bracket

NFC
1. Packers (11-3)
2. Cowboys (10-4)
7. Vikings (7-7)
3. Buccaneers (10-4)
6. 49ers (8-7)
4. Cardinals (10-4)
5. Rams (10-4)
Bubble: Eagles (7-7), Saints (7-7), WFT (6-8) Falcons (6-8), Panthers (5-9), Seahawks (5-9), Giants (4-10)

The Packers and Cowboys are already in, while the Bucs, Cardinals and Rams are essentially locks, too.

San Francisco kept the No. 6 slot after losing to Tennessee, but its postseason chances dropped from 78% to 65%.

Among the trio of 7-7 teams — the Vikings, Eagles and Saints — Reed has New Orleans with the best shot of clinching a berth. However, the Saints will now be underdogs on Monday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins after Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemien tested positive for COVID-19. The team will now start Ian Book at quarterback unless one of the other quarterbacks clears protocol.

In fact, here’s the outlook for all 32 teams.

Chances to Make Postseason Entering Week 16

*Per Travis Reed’s NFL simulations

Team Chance to Make Postseason
Packers 100%
Cowboys 100%
Buccaneers 100%
Cardinals 100%
Titans 100%
Rams 99%
Chiefs 99%
Patriots 99%
Colts 87%
Bills 81%
Chargers 68%
49ers 65%
Bengals 62%
Saints 55%
Ravens 50%
Eagles 40%
Vikings 35%
Steelers 19%
Broncos 13%
Browns 13%
Dolphins 6%
WFT 6%
Raiders 5%
Falcons 0.00%
Panthers 0.00%
Bears 0.00%
Giants 0.00%
Seahawks 0.00%
Jaguars 0.00%
Jets 0.00%
Texans 0.00%
Lions 0.00%
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