Chiefs, Rams, Cardinals, Buccaneers clinch NFL playoff spots in Week 16

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The NFL postseason race got a little bit clearer on Sunday.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all clinched playoff spots in the early window of games.

The Chiefs became the first AFC team to seal a postseason berth on Sunday with a 36-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs earned their sixth consecutive AFC West crown – the longest streak by any team in the history of the division – thanks in part to the Los Angeles Chargers' 41-29 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday.

The Rams' 30-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings guaranteed berths in the postseason field for both Los Angeles and Arizona, which squandered its own opportunity to secure a spot Saturday with a 22-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The 11-4 Rams moved a full game ahead of the 10-5 Cardinals with two weeks left to play.

Rams coach Sean McVay is in the playoffs for the fourth time in his five seasons at the helm. The Cardinals had been tied with the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos for the second-longest active playoff drought at five seasons.

Brandon Powell of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates with Ben Skowronek #18 and Christian Rozeboom #56 after returning a punt for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Brandon Powell of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates with Ben Skowronek #18 and Christian Rozeboom #56 after returning a punt for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, sealed the NFC South title with a 32-6 win over the Carolina Panthers. The division title was the franchise's first since the 2007 season; Tampa Bay made its Super Bowl run last season as a wild-card entrant.

The Dallas Cowboys, who sealed a berth on Thursday thanks to the San Francisco 49ers' 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, wrapped up the NFC East crown before their tilt with the Washington Football Team thanks to the Las Vegas Raiders' win over the Denver Broncos providing a strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Green Bay Packers last week became the first team to clinch a playoff spot by wrapping up the NFC North with a 31-30 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL playoffs: Chiefs, Rams, Cardinals, Buccaneers clinch in Week 16