NFL: We look at the play-off qualification picture heading into Week 16's games

Last Updated: 21/12/13 5:39pm

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Pete Carroll: His Seahawks' side could clinch the NFC West division with victory over Arizona on Sunday

Pete Carroll: His Seahawks' side could clinch the NFC West division with victory over Arizona on Sunday

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The 2013 NFL play-off picture is hotting up heading into Week 16, with plenty still left to be decided.

In the AFC, Denver (11-3), Indianapolis (9-5) and Kansas City (11-3) have already clinched playoff spots, with New England (10-4), Cincinnati (9-4) and Baltimore (8-6) also in the top six at present.

Miami (8-6), San Diego (7-7) and Pittsburgh's (6-8) play-off hopes are still alive, but the rest of the teams in the conference have been eliminated.

Over in the NFC the picture is less clear, with only Seattle (12-2) having clinched their spot so far.

NFL play-offs

  • Six teams qualify from each conference
  • Four division winners automatically qualify
  • Two teams with best records who are not division winners also qualify
  • Tie-breakers within a division: Head-to-head record, division record, record in common games, conference record
  • Tie-breakers across divisions: Head-to-head (if applicable), conference record, record in common games (minimum of four)

New Orleans (10-4), Philadelphia (8-6), Chicago (8-6), Carolina (10-4) and San Francisco (10-4) also currently make up the top six seedings, while Arizona (9-5), Green Bay (7-6-1), Detroit (7-7) and Dallas' (7-7) hopes are still alive.

While the Seahawks are already in the post-season, they will not be complacent against Arizona on Sunday - Pete Carroll's charges can clinch the NFC West division and home-field advantage throughout the play-offs with victory over the Cardinals.

But the Cardinals will hope to beat Seattle and then San Francisco to close out the season, although they would still need help to get into the play-offs at 11-5.

The 49ers can earn a play-off spot if they beat Atlanta.

In the NFC South, there is a crucial clash between Carolina and New Orleans. The winner should be the No 2 seed and the losing franchise is likely to drop down to No 6 in the seedings.

While the Saints know a win would clinch the No 2 seed outright, it will be a tough ask, given they have lost four out of five games on their travels. A win for the Panthers would put them a game in front as well as level the head-to-head tie-breaker between the two.

NFC East

In the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles will clinch the division if they beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday night and the Dallas Cowboys lose in Washington earlier in the day.

If the Cowboys do prevail or if both teams lose, a mouth-watering final week's Eagles-Cowboys showdown will decide the division.

It will be tough for the Eagles given the Bears will also be going all out for the win, knowing they could clinch the NFC North with a victory and if Detroit and Green Bay fail to win against the the Giants and Steelers respectively.

In the NFL's other conference, Denver can seal the AFC West division and a first-round bye with a victory over lowly Houston - as long as Kansas City slip up at Indianapolis.

The Broncos will clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they win, the Chiefs lose and New England lose or tie at home against Baltimore.

The Ravens need to win and see the Dolphins lose and San Diego either lose or tie to clinch a play-off spot, but it will be hard against a Patriots side who know they will seal the AFC East division with a win.

The Patriots will seal a play-off spot if Cincinnati lose or tie, while they will clinch a first-round bye if they win, and Cincinnati and Indianapolis both slip up.

The Bengals can clinch the AFC North if they win and the Ravens lose or tie, but Baltimore still have their destiny in their own hands. They are one game behind and on the last day of the season will play the Bengals, who they already have the tie-breaker over.

Cincinnati will seal at least a wildcard spot with a win and a Miami loss. For their part, the Dolphins could also clinch their own place in the play-offs if they win and the Ravens and Bengals both lose.

Although they currently top their division, the Bengals are behind both Baltimore and Miami in the tie-breaker scenarios.

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