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Churchill’s Week 16 Picks Plus Playoff Scenarios

Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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Newton and the Panthers can take a big step toward the No. 2 seed Sunday.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Newton and the Panthers can take a big step toward the No. 2 seed Sunday. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan Jason A. Churchill
Jason joined 1090 The Fan after 4 1/2 years at ESPN Insider, covering...
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Week 15 was abysmal — seven wins and nine losses, tied for the worst week of the year — but for the season I sit at 146-70-1 and have a shot to rebound and get beyond 150 correct selections for the season in Week 16.

The playoff picture got a little crazier last week, particularly with losses by New England, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Detroit and victories by Green Bay, Arizona, Chicago and Baltimore. Let’s take a peek at where things stand entering play Sunday.

AFC
No. 1: Denver Broncos (11-3)
No. 2: New England Patriots (10-4)
No. 3: Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)
No. 4: Indianapolis Colts (9-5)
No. 5: Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
No. 6: Baltimore Ravens (8-6)*
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Also 8-6 are Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers are 7-7. They need a lot of help but the 6-8 Pittsburgh Steelers still have a chance, too. The New York Jets, also 6-8, were eliminated when the Ravens beat the Lions on Monday night.

The Broncos and Chiefs have each clinched a playoff berth and Denver can lock up the division title with a win or Kansas City loss Sunday, and two victories or one loss by the Patriots over the next two weeks secures home field advantage for Peyton Manning and his teammates.

Entering week 16, the Colts and Bengals have each clinched a playoff spot but Cincinnati needs two wins or one win and a Ravens loss to also clinch the AFC North. If the two teams finish with the same record, the Bengals will be the No. 3 seed thanks to a week 14 win over Indianapolis.

The Bolts need two wins and two losses by both Baltimore and Miami to get in. The Ravens hold the tie-breaker over the Dolphins thanks to a week 5 win on the road.

The Patriots’ hold on the No. 2 seed is razor thin, however, and this week’s matchup at the defending champion Ravens is no easy task. If the Bengals win out and New England falls at Baltimore, (or versus the Bills in week 17), the Patriots will fall to the No. 3 seed.

If the playoffs began today, Denver and New England would enjoy a bye week and a home game during the divisional round. Baltimore would visit Cincinnati and the Chiefs and Colts, who play Sunday, will rematch, this time at Indianapolis.

NFC
No. 1: Seattle Seahawks (121-2)
No. 2: New Orleans Saints (10-4)
No. 3: Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)
No. 4: Chicago Bears (8-6)
No. 5: Carolina Panthers (10-4)
No. 6: San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
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The Lions fell to 7-7 and to third place in the NFC North with the Monday night loss and now the Packers at 7-6-1 have a half-game edge on them, too. The Dallas Cowboys are also 7-7 and have a chance to win the NFC East, still, but need to win out, including a week 17 matchup at home versus division-leading Philadelphia.

The Lions need to win out and hope the Bears and Packers each lose once, which is not at all far fetched. If the Lions and Cowboys win their divisions, Detroit will be the No. 3 seed and Dallas the No. 4.

Technically, Dallas can go 1-1 and win the division if the Eagles lose each of their two remaining games, which is more than plausible as they host the Bears and visit Dallas.

The Seattle Seahawks can wrap up the NFC West title and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win over Arizona. If they lose, a 49ers loss vs. St. Louis wold also give the Hawks the double honors. Seattle holds tie-breakers over Carolina and New Orleans both, but if they dropped to 12-3 Sunday and San Francisco were to win at home, San Francisco would have a shot at all the marbles in week 17, due to a better division record — Seattle would drop to 3-2 while the 49ers would improve to 5-1.

The battle for the No. 2 seed occurs on the field in Carolina where the Saints look to sweep the Panthers. If they do so, New Orleans will lock up the No. 2 seed and first-round bye. If the Panthers win they control their own destiny and can sew it up with a win next week or another Saints loss. Any Panthers losses sews up the No. 2 seed for New Orleans.

The loser of that game Sunday will be in a 1-week battle for the No. 5 seed with the 49ers. All three teams enter this week with a 10-4 record. The Niners lose any tie-breakers with the Saints or Panthers thanks to head-to-head losses.

If the NFC playoffs began Sunday Seattle and New Orleans would have bye weeks while No. 6 San Francisco would head to Philadelphia to the play the Eagles in the nice warn weather. The No. 4 seed Bears would play host to Carolina. In this current scenario, the Seahawks could host the 49ers in the division playoff if San Francisco beats Philadelphia on the road. The No. 5 seed cannot go to the Saints-Panthers loser if San Francisco wins their remaining two games.

This week’s picks:

Picking5

- Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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