2020 NFL Playoff Scenarios: Storylines Heading Into Week 16

Brian Sausa, Last Updated: December 19th, 2019 NJ Sports Betting Online - Best Sportsbooks NJ
2020 NFL Playoff Scenarios: Storylines Heading Into Week 16

With only two weeks left in the NFL regular season, interest in the playoff picture has never been higher.

Pro football is the most popular sport to watch and to bet on in the United States, so the race for the postseason is naturally garnering massive interest from fans and bettors alike. BonusSeeker is here to help sort through the current standings and the 2020 NFL playoff scenarios that may play out over the final two weeks of the season.

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NFC Playoff Picture 2020

The NFC playoff picture is a lot of things, but boring isn't one of them. The six teams currently in playoff position appear poised to keep their spots, but the race toward the postseason still isn't drama-free by any stretch.

Two of the four divisions are still completely up for grabs with two games left, as are the two NFC Wild Card positions and the seeding of playoff teams. Seattle and San Francisco (both 11-3) are tied for the NFC West lead and due to face one another in Week 17. Dallas and Philadelphia (both 7-7) are tied heading into an absolutely massive matchup in Week 16.

Four teams are realistically vying for the top three spots (Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Francisco), making the Week 16 results paramount to the ultimate playoff position of each club. With so many scenarios that can possibly play out, there are tons of postseason matchup combinations, all of which can be found by messing around with the NFL playoff machine until they become clearer.

Working with the results we do have, let's break down the NFC divisions that still need to find winners.

NFC East Playoff Scenarios: Win & In for Dallas, Philadelphia?

One of these teams will win the NFC East and host a playoff game, while the other will miss the playoffs entirely. Dallas won the first time around this season, but the Eagles get to play host in what will be the most consequential game of Week 16, however it turns out.

For our money, Dallas has shown more signs of life and is the better team, even on the road. Oddsmakers seem to agree, making the Cowboys nearly three-point favorites in Philadelphia. From a betting perspective, Dallas is 8-6 against the spread while the Eagles are 5-9 this season.

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The winner of this game isn't automatically in the postseason just yet, however, and will need to beat up on one more NFC East rival in Week 17 to seal the deal. Dallas hosts Washington while the Eagles play the Giants again, so chances are decent the Week 16 winner is the one that wins the division.

Does everyone remember the 2011 NFC Wild Card game? The Seahawks won the NFC West at 7-9 and hosted an 11-5 Saints team, eventually setting the stage for the Beast Quake from Marshawn Lynch, one of the most incredible highlights from the last decade.

While Dallas or Philadelphia is likely to win the NFC East with nine wins rather than seven, it still will have a worse record than the team it hosts once Wild Card weekend arrives. Is it impossible to think that despite the up-and-down regular season that the division winner could topple a team like San Francisco or Minnesota in its home stadium?

NFC West Standings: Seattle Stealing The Division?

Prior to Week 10, the 49ers were the last undefeated team at 8-0 and about to play a Seahawks team that so many see as a shell of its former self. But if you've read our previous NFL playoff predictions immediately after that Week 10 game on Monday night, the Seahawks taking over the NFC West lead should be no surprise.

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After taking down the 49ers on the road earlier in the season, Seattle has hung around while San Francisco got most of the attention, and now it's Russell Wilson & Co. controlling their own destiny.

These two teams will meet again in Seattle in prime time to close out the regular season schedule in Week 17, most likely with the NFC West on the line. Although the value the Seahawks once had is gone, we'd still recommend betting them to close out the division, which improbably sends San Francisco on the road to begin the playoffs.

AFC Playoff Picture 2020

The top of the AFC standings remains unchanged with division winners Baltimore (12-2) and New England (11-3) in the first two positions, with Kansas City (10-4) in third place. The Ravens are inching toward securing home-field advantage throughout the postseason, needing just one more win in the final two weeks.

The AFC West champion Chiefs remain a threat to take over the second position and the first-round bye from the Patriots, but it requires a New England loss and two Kansas City wins to close the schedule.

As we discussed last week, the AFC South race is the only battle for a division that isn't over yet, although the Texans' Week 15 road win moved Houston's odds from -143 last week to -835 this week. Tennessee needs two wins (including one in Houston Week 17) while the would Texans would need two losses in order to give the Titans the division.

While there's little drama barring a miraculous takeover in the AFC South or AFC East, Tennessee and Buffalo are right in the thick of a dramatic AFC Wild Card race

AFC Wild Card Scenarios

The AFC Wild Card standings show three teams (Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee) racing for two spots. The Bills' crucial Week 15 win over the Steelers secured a playoff berth and will play as the No. 5 seed, likely in Houston.

The final playoff spot in the AFC is still up for grabs, and Pittsburgh has the inside track despite losing to Buffalo at home in its last game. To secure a playoff spot, the Steelers are looking for one of the following situations to take place:

  • Win final two games on the road against Jets and Ravens to reach 10 wins
  • Go 1-1 in final two games while Titans lose to Houston again in Week 17
  • Titans lose both games to close 2019 season

On the other side, Tennessee's Week 15 loss to Houston means it can't afford to lose another game and reach the postseason unless the Steelers lose to both the Jets and Ravens in the final two games.

The way things are shaping up, it looks like we have our six AFC playoff teams. And while there's still some room for seeding to change at the top, it will remain the way it is following Week 16 unless Buffalo takes down New England.

Want some more advice on how to bet on football? Visit our NFL playoffs betting guide for everything you need to know about wagering on the postseason!

NFL Playoff Bracket 2020: Potential Postseason NFL Games

NFL Playoff Bracket
As expected, the overall NFL playoff picture was altered some by the Week 15 games, and the same thing will happen following the Week 16 schedule. While the picture is clearing up in some areas, exactly how it all shakes out is still anyone's guess. Let's see how the 2020 NFL playoff bracket currently looks heading into Week 16:

AFC Standings Through Week 15

  1. Baltimore Ravens (12-2)
  2. New England Patriots (11-3)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
  4. Houston Texans (9-5)
  5. Buffalo Bills (10-4)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6)
  7. Tennessee Titans (8-6)

Wild Card Round: Steelers vs. Chiefs, Bills vs. Texans

Divisional Round: Bills-Texans Winner vs. Ravens, Steelers-Chiefs winner vs. Patriots

NFC Standings Through Week 15

  1. Seattle Seahawks (11-3)
  2. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
  3. New Orleans Saints (11-3)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (7-7)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (10-4)

Wild Card Round: Vikings vs. Saints, 49ers vs. Cowboys

Divisional Round: Niners-Cowboys winner vs. Seahawks, Vikings-Saints winner vs. Packers

NFL Playoff Predictions 2020 | Which Bets Can You Make Before Week 16?

Even though the postseason matchups aren't quite set in stone, there are some teams we can assume will wind up in a certain position within the 2020 NFL playoff bracket. This can help us predict each team's path through the postseason all the way to Super Bowl 54.

In the AFC, things are much simpler because most teams are already pretty firmly entrenched in their eventual playoff seedings. Things in the NFC have the potential to change plenty over the next two weeks, but we still have a couple of NFL playoff predictions you can make right now at NJ betting sites like SugarHouse.

  • Kansas City Chiefs To Win AFC (+350)

The best-case scenario is Kansas City winning out and New England losing, leading to the Chiefs taking over the No. 2 seed in the AFC and earning a first-round bye. Even if it doesn't, however, this team is in pretty good shape in its current seed of No. 3.

The Chiefs would have to beat the Patriots on the road, but at least we've seen them do that already and they'd avoid playing the Ravens just yet. At +350 to win the AFC, Kansas City's odds present enormous value in comparison to the other remaining teams. At worst, it presents a hedging opportunity in the event you don't feel comfortable with the Chiefs playing in Baltimore for a spot in the Super Bowl.

  • Green Bay Packers To Win NFC (+600)

This is another pick based on the current value of the odds. The Saints are the odds-on favorite (+200) and for good reason, especially if they wind up getting home-field advantage throughout. But if they don't it's the Packers that will grab a bye and a divisional round home game at Lambeau Field, probably against New Orleans.

Playing in the tundra of Green Bay and the Superdome are completely different animals, and a win for the Packers means you'd have +600 odds going ingot a potential NFC championship game.

  • Seattle Seahawks to Win NFC (+325)

Just think about it like this: does anyone really want to play the Seahawks right now? If this team takes care of business in Weeks 16 and 17 while winning the NFC West, it will lock up its current No. 1 seed. Seattle's home-field advantage is still very real, and winning playoff games in the Pacific Northwest won't be an easy task. With the current +325 odds, the Seahawks are worth a look for the NFC title.

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About Brian Sausa

Brian Sausa is BonusSeeker’s Copy Editor and lead sports betting pundit. A journalism graduate with an extensive sports background, Brian has been employed by multiple professional leagues including MLB, MiLB (Minor League Baseball), and the NHL.

MLB, NHL, IBTimes, Brooklyn Cyclones, FanSided

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