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NFL Playoff Scenarios, Week 16: Packers could clinch NFC North, while playoff bye still possible

Arizona's win on Sunday Night dealt a blow to Green Bay's hopes for a playoff bye, but their sights are squarely set on the Cards next Sunday.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Following Sunday of Week 15, there was little change in the playoff scenarios around the NFL. This week found just a single change in playoff teams, as the last team in for the AFC flipped based on a tiebreaker.

In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers are still theoretically alive from anything from the second through the sixth seed. They clinched a playoff spot following the early games, as the New York Giants lost and forfeited any chance of overtaking the Packers for a Wild-Card spot. However, the Arizona Cardinals' win on Sunday night means that the Packers need to win their last two games (at Arizona and at home against Minnesota) and also have Seattle defeat the Cardinals in week 17 if they are to earn the NFC's second seed.

In week 16, the Packers also have a chance to clinch the NFC North, which they could do with a win and a Vikings loss/tie against the Giants OR a tie and a Vikings loss. With those results seeming unlikely, it appears that week 17's battle at Lambeau Field will indeed have the division title on the line.

Here's where we stand after 15 weeks.

NFC Playoff Standings

Several teams were eliminated from playoff contention this week, and only one team currently outside the playoff hunt has a shot at a Wild Card spot. However, the NFC East division is still up for grabs, with Washington currently leading by a game in that division.

Every one of the six NFC playoff teams won on Sunday, which means that there are no changes in position.

1. Carolina Panthers, 14-0 (clinched NFC South and first-round bye)
2. Arizona Cardinals, 12-2 (clinched NFC West)

3. Green Bay Packers, 10-4 (NFC North leader)
4. Washington, 7-7 (NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks, 9-5 (Wild-Card)
6. Minnesota Vikings, 9-5 (Wild-Card)

Still Alive

Atlanta Falcons, 7-7
Philadelphia Eagles, 6-8
New York Giants, 6-8

AFC Playoff Standings

There was one big shakeup in the bottom of the AFC playoff picture this week - the Steelers now own the last playoff spot thanks to a common-opponents tiebreaker over the New York Jets that they earned thanks to their victory over the Denver Broncos.

Like in the NFC, there is only one team still alive for the AFC's Wild-Card spots. However, two teams still are within striking distance of the AFC South title, as either Indianapolis or Jacksonville could still claim the division title if the Texans drop.

The second seed might be decided next Monday night, when the Bengals and Broncos square off at Mile High.

1. New England Patriots, 12-2 (clinched AFC East)
2. Cincinnati Bengals, 11-3 (AFC North leader)

3. Denver Broncos, 10-4 (AFC West leader)
4. Houston Texans, 7-7 (AFC South leader)
5. Kansas City Chiefs, 9-5 (Wild-Card)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-5 (Wild-Card)

Still Alive

New York Jets, 9-5
Indianapolis Colts, 6-8
Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-9