In Week 16, the champions of the NFC East and AFC East have finally been crowned.
The “hats and t-shirts” celebrations were delayed in both Dallas and New England. But in Week 16, they finally clinched.
The Cowboys and the Patriots officially punched their tickets to the NFL playoffs, both securing at least one home playoff game, by clinching their respective divisions, the NFC East and AFC East.
After getting shutout in Indianapolis a week ago, the Cowboys bounced back with a 27-20 win at home over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the Patriots have failed to clinch their division in each of the last two weeks, losing at Miami and Pittsburgh. But back at home in Foxborough against the division rival Buffalo Bills, the Pats came through with a 24-12 win to wrap up the AFC East for a record 10th straight year.
In addition to winning the division, New England’s win also put them back into the No. 2 seed in the AFC following the Houston Texans losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. As of now, the Patriots are once again in line for a first round bye.
Here’s how the NFL playoff picture stands as of midway through Sunday of Week 16:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
2. New England Patriots (10-5)
3. Houston Texans (10-5)
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-4)
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
1. New Orleans Saints (12-2)
2. Los Angeles Rams (11-3)
3. Chicago Bears (10-4)
4. Dallas Cowboys (9-6)
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1)
Of course, the standings are still subject to change, as the Saints, Rams, Bears, Chiefs, Steelers and Seahawks are all playing in the late afternoon or evening during Week 16.
It’s unlikely that the Arizona Cardinals would pull off an upset win over the Rams, but if you’re a Bears fan, you’re hoping to see it happen. A Rams loss, coupled with a Bears win over the San Francisco 49ers, would move Chicago up to the No. 2 spot in the NFC and thus put them in line for a first-round bye.