What if the Playoffs Started Today? 2021 NFL Playoffs Scenarios After Week 16
It’s been a fantastic 2021 NFL season thus far, and fans of certain fanbases wish that the season would end right now to guarantee their favorite team’s playoff spot. That being said, what’s the current postseason landscape as we speak?
Read on to find out what the 2021 NFL Playoffs field looks like if the season had ended after Week 16’s action. And to be on top of all the developments from the ongoing 2021 NFL season and beyond, head on over to Nitrogen Sports Blog after this.
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Packers and Chiefs Earn First-Round Byes
Who’d have guessed that two teams with top-five quarterbacks are top seeds in their respective conferences? Aaron Rodgers and the Packers control their destiny at becoming the No. 1 seed in the NFC with winnable games against division rivals the Vikings and Lions to close out the season.
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs also have a one-game lead for the top spot in the AFC standings. However, they’ll face a tough challenge ahead in the Bengals, who just saw phenomenal young quarterback Joe Burrow throw for 525 passing yards (fourth-most in NFL history for a single game performance) against a stout Ravens defense. A Kansas City vs. Cincinnati rematch in the postseason could very well happen, and we’ll touch open the Bengals in more detail below.
Five Slots All Locked Up in the NFC
The playoff picture over in the NFC is much clearer following Week 16’s action. The Dallas Cowboys (No. 2 seed) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 4) join the Packers in having secured their respective division titles. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams (No. 3), Arizona Cardinals (No. 5), and San Francisco 49ers (No. 6) are still battling it out for the NFC West crown, with the Week 17 clash between the Rams and Niners likely deciding the division champ.
The No. 7 seed is currently occupied by the 8-7 Philadelphia Eagles, who currently have a one-game advantage over NFC teams still on the playoff bubble with 7-8 records in the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints. The Washington Football Team has yet to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention at 6-9, but will need to win out and get plenty of help from the football gods for a shot at a wild card spot.
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A Fight to the Finish in the AFC
Things are much messier over in the AFC, as only the Chiefs are guaranteed locks for the postseason thus far. The No. 2 seed right now is the Tennessee Titans, who are playing some gritty football despite their myriad of injuries on offense. The aforementioned Bengals are currently the No. 3 seed at 9-6; a record they share with four other teams in the conference in the Buffalo Bills (No. 4 seed), Indianapolis Colts (No. 5), and New England Patriots (No. 6). All of the teams listed up to this point are in the running for their respective division titles, which likely means that playoff seeding won’t be set in stone until Week 18.
One of the biggest surprises of the season has a grasp of the final AFC Wild Card spots, as the No. 7 Miami Dolphins are on a seven-game tear. Miami is the first team in NFL history to win seven straight games and lose seven consecutive contests as well in a single season. The Dolphins have a daunting schedule to close out their campaign with dates against the Titans and the Patriots.
There are still six teams on the playoff bubble in this wild and unpredictable conference. The Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens lead the pack of AFC playoff hopefuls with 8-7 records akin to the Dolphins. Three seven-win franchises are also still in the mix, namely the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Denver Broncos.
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