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2024 NFL postseason situation, bracket: Influence of wins by Steelers and Texans on playoff race, scenarios for securing place

The NFL regular-season’s last week began with a Saturday doubleheader.  

The Texans secured their first playoff spot since 2019 by defeating the Colts 23-19 on Saturday. CJ Stroud, in an impressive rookie regular season, threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans not only clinched a playoff spot but also have a chance to win the AFC South with this victory.

On the same day, the Steelers boosted their playoff hopes by beating the Ravens 17-10. Despite the victory, the Steelers have not yet secured a playoff spot. They will require assistance on Sunday to secure their place, and we will discuss what they need and how the Texans can secure the division title. 

With that in mind, here’s a look at the current playoff standings and the playoff bracket heading into Sunday. 

AFC playoff standings

Jaguars 9-7
Potential seeds:
Fourth or out of playoffs. The AFC South is Jacksonville’s to lose: If the Jaguars beat the Titans on Sunday, they’ll win the AFC South and host the Browns in the wild-card round. Going into Week 18, the Jags had a path to make the playoffs even with a loss against the Titans, but that’s no longer possible after Pittsburgh’s win on Saturday. That means the Jags will be in a “win or go home” situation against Tennessee. If the Jags lose, the Texans will win the division. 

Colts (9-8): The Colts would have punched their ticket to the postseason with a win over Houston, but instead, they were eliminated. 

AFC Wild-card matchups (Based on current standings)

(7) Steelers at (2) Dolphins
(6) Bills at (3) Chiefs
(5) Browns at (4) Texans

Bye: Ravens

NFC playoff standings

Seahawks (8-8)

Potential seeds: Seventh or out of playoffs. The Seahawks can secure a postseason spot with a victory over the Cardinals combined with a Packers loss to Chicago. 

Saints (8-8)
Potential seeds: Fourth, seventh, or out of playoffs. The Saints will win the NFC South if they defeat the Falcons AND the Buccaneers lose to the Panthers. The Saints could also clinch a wild-card spot by beating the Falcons combined with a Packers loss, a Seahawks loss, and a Buccaneers win. 

Vikings (7-9)
Potential seeds: Seventh or out of playoffs. The Vikings can still make the playoffs, but they require significant assistance. The Vikings would have to beat the Lions, and both the Seahawks and Packers would need to lose, PLUS either the Saints or Buccaneers would have to lose. 

Falcons (7-9). 
Potential seeds: Fourth or out of playoffs. The only way the Falcons can reach the playoffs is by defeating the Saints AND the Buccaneers losing to the Panthers. This combination would allow the Falcons to secure the NFC South title. 

NFC Wild-card matchups (Based on current standings)

(7) Packers at (2) Cowboys
(6) Rams at (3) Lions
(5) Eagles at (4) Buccaneers

Bye: 49ers

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