NFL Playoff Standings 2016: Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks Clinching Playoffs In Style

NFL playoff standings for 2016 just got even better for the Seattle Seahawks. The NFL playoff standings updated again Thursday night, December 10, as the Arizona Cardinals beat the Minnesota Vikings at home. The 23-20 victory for the Cardinals clinched a playoff spot for the NFC West leaders. It also helped out the Seahawks, because if Seattle can beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, December 13, the team will move up a rung in the NFL playoff standings.

Currently, the 8-5 Minnesota Vikings lead the 7-5 Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild card race. The Seahawks beat the Vikings in week 13, though, giving the team an important head-to-head tie-breaker. It means that if the Seahawks can beat the Ravens to improve to 8-5 on Sunday, the team will move into the No. 5 spot in the NFC. That would also bump the Vikings into the No. 6 slot, just ahead of the 6-6 Atlanta Falcons and 6-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

At 11-2 in the 2016 NFL playoff standings, the Arizona Cardinals are just one victory or one Seattle Seahawks loss from clinching the NFC West. The team holds the No. 2 spot in the NFC, trailing only the 12-0 Carolina Panthers. Holding down the other two playoff spots are the 8-4 Green Bay Packers as the NFC North leaders and the 5-7 Washington Redskins as the NFC East leaders. The Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants are all tied atop the East with equal records as the week 14 games get started.

In the updated AFC playoff standings, the Cincinnati Bengals (10-2) hold the top seed in the conference. The Denver Broncos (10-2) aren’t too far back as the second seed and the team also has a head-to-head tie-breaker over the New England Patriots (10-2). Currently the Patriots are the third seed due to that tie-breaker, possibly forcing the team to play in the first round of the AFC Playoffs. Having the top three teams in the AFC all possessing a 10-2 record will raise the excitement level in the final few weeks of the regular season.

The fourth seed is now the 6-6 Indianapolis Colts, as the team took over first place in the AFC South. The Colts owns a tie-breaker over the 6-6 Houston Texans, but the South could come down to the final week of the season. As for the ever-changing AFC wild card teams, they are currently the 7-5 Kansas City Chiefs and the 7-5 New York Jets. The 7-5 Pittsburgh Steelers lose out on the current tie-breakers and reside as the seventh place team in the AFC so far.

There are several other teams looking to shake up the 2016 NFL playoff standings in the AFC. The Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans each have 6-6 records and could theoretically move up into the wild card spots over the next two weeks. While the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots continue to pull away from the rest of the field, it is going to be a big battle for the AFC wild card teams. One really important week 14 game is on Sunday night, when the Houston Texans host the New England Patriots on NBC.

The Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals are the only two teams to clinch playoff berths, but that could change over the weekend. The Broncos, Patriots, and Bengals could each clinch spots, as divisions could be settled earlier than normal. All three division leaders could clinch by winning and having the second place 7-5 teams losing. By the end of the week 14 schedule, quite a lot in the 2016 NFL playoff standings could be settled. That would leave the final three weeks as a battle to see which teams will secure the first round byes and some extra time to rest in the postseason.

[Photo by: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]