AFC first-round byes: (1) Broncos; (2) Patriots
AFC wild card: (6) Steelers at (3) Bengals; (5) Chiefs at (4) Texans
NFC first-round byes: (1) Panthers; (2) Cardinals
NFC wild card: (6) Seahawks at (3) Vikings; (5) Packers at (4) Redskins
The New York Jets blew their chance to make the playoffs. The New England Patriots blew their chance to clinch the top seed for the second straight week. And the Green Bay Packers squandered the division for the first time since they won the Super Bowl five years ago as a wild card.
The Broncos jumped to the No. 1 seed by virtue of head-to-head wins against both the Patriots and Bengals. The Broncos would have fallen all the way to the wild card with a loss against the San Diego Chargers.
The Vikings won the North outright but now have to face the Seattle Seahawks, who crushed them 38-7 a month ago in Minnesota. The Packers will visit NFC East champion Washington. The Carolina Panthers emphatically clinched the No. 1 seed when the Seahawks crushed the Arizona Cardinals.
Elsewhere, the Houston Texans officially clinched the AFC South when the New Orleans Saints won at the Atlanta Falcons and secured Houston the strength of victory tiebreaker against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to win the division outright. The Kansas City Chiefs will bring a 10-game winning streak to Houston next week.
(x=clinched playoff berth, y=clinched division, z=clinched first-round bye, *=clinched home-field advantage)
*-1. Denver Broncos (12-4, West champion; W 27-20 vs. Chargers)
• Clinched the No. 1 seed with a win and Patriots loss because of a Week 12 win against the Patriots and Week 16 win against the Bengals.
z-2. New England Patriots (12-4, East champion; L 10-20 at Dolphins)
• Clinched a first-round playoff bye because of a better record (4-1) than the Bengals (2-3) in common games (against the Bills, Broncos, Steelers and Texans).
y-3. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4, North champion; W 24-16 vs. Ravens)
• Locked into the No. 3 seed after the Broncos beat the Chargers.
• Will play host to the No. 6 Steelers next week. In the teams' previous meetings, the Bengals won 16-10 in Week 8 and lost 33-20 in Week 14.
y-4. Houston Texans (9-7, South champion; W 30-6 vs. Jaguars)
• Clinched the South and No. 4 seed when the Saints beat the Falcons because of a better strength of victory than the Colts.
• Will play host to the No. 5 Chiefs next week in a rematch of Week 1, a 27-20 Chiefs win at Houston.
x-5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, top wild card; W 23-17 vs. Raiders)
• Locked into the No. 5 seed when the Broncos improved to 12-4 by beating the Chargers.
• Will visit the No. 4 Texans next week in a rematch of Week 1, a 27-20 Chiefs win at Houston.
x-6. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6; W 28-12 at Browns)
• Clinched a playoff berth with a win at the Browns and a Jets loss at the Bills because of a better record (4-1) than the Jets (3-2) in common games (against the Browns, Colts, Patriots and Raiders).
• Will visit the No. 3 Bengals next week. In the teams' previous meetings, the Steelers lost 16-10 in Week 8 and won 33-20 in Week 14.
*-1. Carolina Panthers (15-1, South champion; W 38-10 vs. Buccaneers)
• Clinched the No. 1 seed and home-field through the NFC playoffs when the Cardinals lost at the Seahawks.
z-2. Arizona Cardinals (13-3, West champion; L 6-36 vs. Seahawks)
• Eliminated from contention for the No. 1 seed with a loss to the Seahawks but clinched a first-round bye in Week 16.
y-3. Minnesota Vikings (11-5, North champion; W 20-13 at Packers)
• Clinched the North and No. 3 seed with a win at the Packers.
• Will play host to the No. 6 Seahawks next week in a rematch of Week 13, a 38-7 Seahawks win at Minnesota.
y-4. Washington Redskins (9-7, East champion; W 34-23 at Cowboys)
• Clinched the East and No. 4 seed with a Week 16 win at the Eagles.
• Will play host to the No. 5 Packers next week.
x-5. Green Bay Packers (10-6, top wild card; L 13-20 vs. Vikings)
• Would clinch the North and No. 3 seed with a win/tie against the Vikings.
• Clinched the No. 5 seed because of a Week 2 win against the Seahawks.
• Will visit the No. 4 Redskins next week.
x-6. Seattle Seahawks (10-6, bottom wild card; W 36-6 at Cardinals)
• Locked into the No. 6 seed when the Packers lost to the Vikings.
• Will visit the No. 3 Vikings next week in a rematch of Week 13, a 38-7 Seahawks win at Minnesota.
Eliminated teams and their first-round selection order in the draft:
1. Tennessee Titans (3-13), 2. Cleveland Browns (3-13), 3. San Diego Chargers (4-12), 4. Dallas Cowboys (4-12), 5. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11), 6. Baltimore Ravens (5-11), 7. San Francisco 49ers (5-11), 8. Miami Dolphins (6-10), 9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10), 10. New York Giants (6-10), 11. Chicago Bears (6-10), 12. New Orleans Saints (7-9), 13. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9), 14. Oakland Raiders (7-9), 15. St. Louis Rams (7-9), 16. Detroit Lions (7-9), 17. Atlanta Falcons (8-8), 18. Indianapolis Colts (8-8), 19. Buffalo Bills (8-8), 20. New York Jets (10-6).