NFL playoff scenarios for 2013 got interesting over the weekend. The latest AFC and NFC standings predict new 2013 NFL playoff scenarios that surprisingly keep the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers alive in the race to the postseason. The standings were officially updated on Monday morning (Dec. 23), showing just how tight the race has become for the second wild card slot in each conference. It also reveals two NFC division titles on the line next Sunday (Dec. 29).
Remarkably, no NFC team has clinched a division title this season. The 12-3 Seattle Seahawks and 11-4 Carolina Panthers are also the only two teams to clinch postseason slots. If Seattle wins against the St. Louis Rams in Week 17, they clinch the NFC West and the No. 1 overall seed. If they lose and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16 and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17, they will clinch the division title and a first round bye.
There are quite a few 2013 NFL playoff scenarios coming into play for the No. 3 and No. 4 seed. The 8-7 Chicago Bears and 7-7-1 Green Bay Packers will play for the NFC North title and the No. 4 seed. Then the 9-6 Philadelphia Eagles and 8-7 Dallas Cowboys will play for the No. 3 seed. Those are the only teams competing for those spots and the right to host one of the two wild card teams.
San Francisco becomes a wild card team if Seattle wins the NFC West and the New Orleans Saints become the second wild card team if the Panthers win the NFC South. If the 49ers and Saints finish the season with identical records, the Saints win the head-to-head tie-breaker and will finish as the No. 5 seed.
In the AFC five playoff spots have been clinched, although the seeding could shift a bit in Week 17. The Denver Broncos need a win or a New England Patriots loss to clinch the No. 1 overall seed. If the reverse happens, the Patriots will become the No. 1 seed and the Broncos will slide to No. 2. All of the divisions have been clinched as well, with the Broncos winning the AFC West, the Patriots winning the AFC East, the Cincinnati Bengals winning the AFC North, and the Indianapolis Colts winning the AFC South.
In other 2013 NFL playoff scenarios from the AFC, Cincinnati can clinch a first round bye with a win and a Patriots loss and Indianapolis can clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Bengals and Patriots. What's not straight forward is how the second wild card team will be decided. If the Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, and Baltimore Ravens all finish 9-7, Miami will be the No. 6 seed. Baltimore needs one of the other two teams to lose to get the seed and San Diego needs both of them to lose.
Kansas City is the No. 5 seed and the first wild card no matter what, meaning they will go on the road to play the No. 4 seed in the first round of the 2014 AFC Playoffs. If Indianapolis and Cincinnati finish with identical records, the Bengals will win the head-to-head tie-breaker. Finally we have the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that can sneak in as the No. 6 seed if the Ravens, Chargers, and Dolphins all lose in Week 17.
Everything will be settled on Sunday (Dec. 29), sending 12 teams to the postseason and 20 to their respective vacation destinations.
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