Slowly, the field is taking shape for the NFL playoffs.
On a day when both the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots blew chances to clinch home-field throughout the postseason, here’s a look at the playoff picture with eight of 12 spots decided:
With their ninth straight win on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs are in. That leaves five teams — the New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston and Indianapolis — still in contention for three remaining spots.
Already in are New England, Cincinnati and Kansas City.
The Jets and Steelers are in the race for one playoff spot. Either the Texans or Colts will wind up as the AFC South winner. The Broncos have three possibilities — division champs, wild card or out completely.
The Bengals are at the Broncos on Monday night to help sort out some postseason seeding.
Next Sunday, it’s the Jets at Buffalo, the Steelers at Cleveland, and Denver is home to San Diego. The Jets are in with a win.
Also, a Texans win against Jacksonville puts them in as division champs; the Colts play Tennessee.
The NFC is a little simpler: Five teams are in — Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, Washington and Seattle. The Redskins were the latest to clinch after Saturday night’s win over Philadelphia.
Still in contention are Minnesota and Atlanta.
Despite their first loss of the season — to the Falcons— the Panthers are NFC South champs with a first-round bye. They close the season at home to Tampa Bay.
The Cardinals, NFC West winners, clinched a first-round bye with their win over Green Bay and close the regular season at home to Seattle.
The Packers can either win the NFC North, or end up as a wild card depending on how the Vikings fared Sunday night against the New York Giants. Minnesota visits Green Bay next week, with the division title on the line.
The Redskins won the NFC East with their win over the Eagles, and play their regular-season finale at Dallas next week.
Seattle is in as a wild-card team despite its loss to St. Louis on Sunday.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
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