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SportsPulse: The playoffs in the AFC will go through Kansas City, but that doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did. USA TODAY Sports’ Mackenzie Salmon breaks down the biggest story lines from Week 16 in the AFC.

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Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks with Week 16’s Sunday games complete. (Note: the postseason field expands to 14 teams this season and could potentially go to 16 if the league’s schedule is thrown into disarray down the stretch by COVID-19 disruptions.)

AFC

z-1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1), AFC West champions: It was ugly, but they got past Atlanta to sew up home-field advantage and a first-round bye.

Week 17: vs. Chargers

y-2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3), AFC North champions: Broke three-game slide to (finally) wrap up division crown. Next question, whom do they play in wild-card round?

Week 17: at Browns

y-3. Buffalo Bills (11-3), AFC East champions: A win Monday night in New England re-elevates them to the second seed and allows them to avoid Kansas City longer in playoffs.

Week 17: vs. Dolphins

4. Tennessee Titans (10-5), AFC South leaders: Failed to lock up a playoff berth after getting trounced in Green Bay on Sunday night, but Titans need only beat Houston next week to wrap up division title (or hope Colts lose final game).

Week 17: at Texans

5. Miami Dolphins (10-5), wild card No. 1: Ultimately came up aces in Las Vegas and are now just one win from playoff berth. Their 7-4 record in AFC games moves them to top of wild-card pile.

Week 17: at Bills

6. Baltimore Ravens (10-5), wild card No. 2: A fourth consecutive victory boosts one of AFC’s hottest teams into projected field. Their Week 9 defeat of Colts gives Baltimore this spot. They keep it by beating Cincinnati in regular-season finale.

Week 17: at Bengals

7. Cleveland Browns (10-5), wild card No. 3: Despite stunning loss to Jets, Week 5 defeat of Colts currently has them clinging to final berth. Beat Pittsburgh, and Cleveland’s league-high 18-year playoff drought finally ends.

Week 17: vs. Steelers

8. Indianapolis Colts (10-5), first team out of field: Cascading series of tiebreakers, especially 0-3 combined record against Baltimore and Cleveland – they share 6-5 conference records with Indy – leaves Colts out in the cold heading into Week 17. Indianapolis needs to beat Jacksonville and hope Titans, Dolphins, Ravens or Browns lose their last game.

Week 17: vs. Jaguars

NFC

y-1. Green Bay Packers (12-3), NFC North champions: They took care of business against Tennessee. A win at Chicago will confer home-field advantage and first-round bye. However Pack lose top seed if they wind up tied with Seattle or in a three-way deadlock with Seahawks and Saints.

Week 17: at Bears

y-2. New Orleans Saints (11-4), NFC South champions: Won division for fourth consecutive season on Christmas. They’ll wrest No. 1 seed back from Pack if Green Bay loses in Week 17 and Seattle wins as New Orleans would have best conference record among trio.

Week 17: at Panthers

y-3. Seattle Seahawks (11-4), NFC West champions: Division champs for fifth time under Pete Carroll. By virtue of superior record in common games with Green Bay, NFC road will go through Seattle’s Lumen Field if Seahawks and Packers both finish 12-4.

Week 17: at 49ers

4. Washington Football Team (6-9), NFC East leaders: Despite losing to Carolina, Washington has win-and-in scenario in regular-season finale by virtue of season sweep of Cowboys, who are tied atop division after improving to 6-9 themselves. If Dallas beats the Giants in Week 17 and the WFT loses, Cowboys wind up with playoff spot. If all three clubs wind up with 6-10 records, the Giants emerge with the division title.

Week 17: at Eagles

x-5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5), wild card No. 1: They advance to postseason for first time since 2007 after crushing Lions … and now have inside track to play a sub-.500 NFC East champion.

Week 17: vs. Falcons

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-6), wild card No. 2: Late-season spiral continues, L.A.’s loss at Seattle preventing Rams from clinching playoff spot and costing them any shot at NFC West championship. If L.A. loses in Week 17 and Bears win, the Rams go home.

Week 17: vs. Cardinals

7. Chicago Bears (8-7), wild card No. 3: They’ve suddenly won three in a row on heels of six-game losing streak. Beat the Packers at Soldier Field in Week 17, and Da Bears claim a most surprising postseason berth.

Week 17: vs. Packers

8. Arizona Cardinals (8-7), first team out of field: Surprise loss to the division rival 49ers on Saturday afternoon gave Chicago control of its playoff path. However the Cards also control their destiny anew after Rams’ loss Sunday. Beat L.A., and Arizona advances.

Week 17: at Rams

x — clinched berth

y — clinched division

z — clinched home-field advantage

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Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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