NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 16 Playoff Picture: Playoff & division title implications for all 16 games

Denver, Colorado, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to pass in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The shape of the 2021 NFL playoff bracket hinges heavily on what we see during the Week 16 slate, so we at PFF want to use our simulation to go through the different scenarios and how they affect your favorite NFL team.

Playoff leverage for each team in the NFL that is not 0% or 100% to make it. The percentage on the right-hand side of the figure is the change in playoff odds with a win versus a loss.

Thursday Night Football

San Francisco 49ers @ Tennessee Titans (+3.5)

Current playoff odds: SF 87%. TEN 96%
With SF win: SF 96%, TEN 94%
With TEN win: SF 76%, TEN > 99%

Current division title odds: TEN 89%
With SF win: TEN 82%
With TEN win: TEN 98%

Current one seed odds: TEN 13%
With SF win: TEN 3%
With TEN win: TEN 25%

The skinny: The 49ers rebounded after their loss in Seattle with two straight wins against teams in the playoff race and now sit pretty for the sixth seed in the conference with three games to play.

Once a virtual lock to capture their second straight AFC South title, the Titans are reeling a bit after losing three of their last four games. They can still secure the one seed in the AFC because they hold a tiebreaker with Kansas City, but they now need help. 

Click here for our best bets on the game. 

PFF’s WR/CB Matchup Chart is a fantasy football tool that you can use to help you set the best lineups. You can toggle between showing the Matchup Advantage column against all projected coverage or the individual defenders.

Saturday Night Football

Cleveland browns @ Green Bay packers (-7.5)

Current playoff odds: CLE 23%, GB 100%
With CLE win: CLE 14%, GB 100%
With GB win: CLE 41%, GB 100%

Current division title odds: CLE 19%, GB 100%
With CLE win: CLE 10%, GB 100%
With GB win: CLE 35%, GB 100%

Current one seed odds: GB 71%
With CLE win: GB 45%
With GB win: GB 87%

The skinny: With Tampa’s loss to the Saints last Sunday night, the Packers are in the driver’s seat to earn the one seed in the NFC and have the second-highest odds to win the Super Bowl (16%), behind only the 2019 Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The Browns blew a pretty good shot at the division with a home loss to the Raiders on Monday night, but they still have a chance if things break their way. They have a date with the Bengals and Steelers coming up after this one. 

Click here for our best bets on the game. 

Click here for more PFF tools:

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Indianpolis colts @ Arizona cardinals (-1)

Current playoff odds: IND 82%, ARZ > 99%
With IND win: IND 94%, ARZ > 99%
With ARZ win: IND 72%, ARZ 100%

Current division title odds: IND 11%, ARZ 61%
With IND win: IND 20%, ARZ 41%
With ARZ win: IND 3%, ARZ 77%

The skinny: The Cardinals had given themselves a clear path to a division title up until the last two weeks, where they lost convincingly to the Rams and the Lions. They are now up against it and battle a good Indianapolis team on Christmas Day. A loss would plummet their division title odds to below 50%.

The Colts are in a position to snipe the AFC South with a win and more struggles from Tennessee, who are home underdogs to the 49ers this week. 

Click here for our best bets on the game. 

Sunday 1 PM Slate

Detroit lions @ Atlanta falcons (-6)

Current playoff odds: ATL 3%
With DET win: ATL < 1%
With ATL win: ATL 4%

The skinny: Atlanta actually has a worse point differential than the Lions. Despite that, the market has shifted toward the Falcons, moving them out from -4.5 on Sunday to almost a touchdown. The Falcons have done a good job of covering against bad teams — e.g., Jacksonville, New York — and if they take care of business at home here, there is still a chance they could sneak in as the seventh seed. 

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers (-10.5)

Current one seed odds: TB 9%
With TB win: TB 12%
With CAR win: TB < 1%

The skinny: The Bucs are banged up and will be without Chris Godwin, Lavante David, Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans for differing amounts of time, but they could still snag the one seed in the NFC for the first time in franchise history by winning out and getting some help against the Packers and Cowboys. 

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (no line)

Current playoff odds: BAL 49%, CIN 53%
With BAL win: BAL 78%, CIN 25%
With CIN win: BAL 27%, CIN 74%

Current division title odds: BAL 30%, CIN 39%
With BAL win: BAL 62%, CIN 12%
With CIN win: BAL 7%, CIN 59%

The skinny: This is the biggest game of the weekend. As such, there is no market on it yet, especially due to the uncertainty surrounding Lamar Jackson’s availability. The Bengals did open as 2.5-point favorites here, which is likely where it would be if Jackson could play. The road to the division and the playoffs becomes really, really hard for the losing team in this game. 

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Houston Texans (no line)

Current playoff odds: LAC 70%
With LAC win: LAC 80%
With HOU win: LAC 43%

Current division title odds: LAC 4%
With LAC win: LAC 1%
With HOU win: LAC 5%

The skinny: The Chargers lost a golden opportunity to secure their first division title in over a decade Thursday, losing to the Chiefs in a game where they converted 40% of their five fourth-down attempts. A win here pushes them toward their first playoff berth since 2018. 

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota Vikings (+2.5)

Current playoff odds: LA >99%, MIN 31%
With LA win: LA 100%, MIN 13%
With MIN win: LA 98%, MIN 52%

Current division title odds: LA 38%
With LA win: LA 53%
With MIN win: LA 20%

The skinny: Both of these teams are coming off short rest, with the Vikings playing on Monday and the Rams playing on Tuesday. Neither team was all that impressive, leading to a Sunday tilt with substantial playoff implications. If the Rams win, it significantly diminishes the Vikings' chances to make the playoffs. If the Vikings win, it substantially reduces the Rams' recently reborn chances of winning the NFC West. 

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets (no line)

No playoff ramifications for this game.

Click here for our best bets on the game.

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles (-10)

Current playoff odds: PHI 30%
With NYG win: PHI 10%
With PHI win: PHI 41%

The skinny: The Eagles are huge favorites here despite coming off a short week and playing a division rival — a division rival they lost to less than a month ago. 

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots (-2.5)

Current playoff odds: BUF 75%, NE 96%
With BUF win: BUF 96%, NE 93%
With NE win: BUF 53%, NE > 100%

Current division title odds: BUF 38%, NE 62%
With BUF win: BUF 80%, NE 20%
With NE win: BUF 0%, NE > 99%

Current one seed odds: BUF < 1%, NE 22%
With BUF win: BUF 2%, NE 2%
With NE win: BUF 0%, NE 40%

The skinny: This game, along with Cincinnati versus Baltimore, is the highest-leverage game of the weekend, with division title hopes in the balance for both teams. Basically, the winner of this game wins the AFC East. However, there is more upside for the Patriots, who could put themselves in a nice position for the one seed with a win, as well.

Click here for our best bets on the game. 

Sunday 4 PM Slate

Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks (-6.5)

No playoff ramifications in this game

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders (-1)

Current playoff odds: DEN 6%, LV 20%
With DEN win: DEN 12%, LV 3%
With LV win: DEN < 1%, LV 34%

The skinny: Games don’t get much more even than this, with both 7-7 teams in the AFC West clinging to their final playoff hopes in a game that is basically a pick’em on the betting markets. 

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (no line)

Current playoff odds: PIT 21%, KC > 99%
With PIT win: PIT 49%, KC 98%
With KC win: PIT 12%, KC 100%

Current division title odds: PIT 11%, KC 96%
With PIT win: PIT 27%, KC 90%
With KC win: PIT 7%, KC 98%

Current one seed odds: KC 60%
With PIT win: KC 25%
With KC win: KC 70%

The skinny: The Chiefs are dealing with a lot of COVID-19 cases, whereas the Steelers are coming off an emotional home win against the Titans to keep their playoff hopes alive. The line opened around a 10-point spread for KC but got down to a touchdown or so with the COVID news.

The Chiefs, who play two road games against teams 0.500 or better after this one, have a lot of importance tied to this game, as they try to secure a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs for the fourth time in the Patrick Mahomes era.

Click here for our best bets on the game.

Sunday Night Football

Washington Football Team @ Dallas Cowboys (no line)

Current playoff odds: WAS 10%, DAL > 99%
With WAS win: DAL > 99%, WAS 22%
With DAL win: WAS 4%, DAL 100%

Current division title odds: WAS 0%, DAL > 99%
With WAS win: WAS 0%, DAL > 99%
With DAL win: WAS 0%, DAL 100%

Current one seed odds: DAL 16%
With WAS win: DAL 2%
With DAL win: DAL 22%

The skinny: What little hope Washington had to secure its second straight playoff berth was hurt when Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen couldn’t play Tuesday against the Eagles, as now their chances are about 1-in-10 of going back to the dance. The Cowboys could have the NFC East sewn up by the time the game starts Sunday, with the simplest such event being an Eagles loss. 

Click here for our best bets on the game. 

Monday Night Football

Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints (-3)

Current playoff odds: MIA 9%, NO 40%
With MIA win: MIA 19%, NO 24%
With NO win: MIA 2%, NO 53%

The skinny: Both of these teams were left for dead at one point during the season, but each now has a non-trivial chance of making the playoffs, especially New Orleans. 

Click here for our best bets on the game.


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