The NFL playoff picture

San Francisco 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner (31) tackles New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) in the second quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
San Francisco 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner (31) tackles New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) in the second quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP

Six teams from each conference make the playoffs — the four division winners plus two wild-card teams. The first three tiebreakers within a division are head-to-head, division record, and record vs. common opponents; the first three for a wild-card spot involving teams not in the same division are head-to-head, conference record, and record vs. common opponents. The two division winners with the best records get first-round byes for the playoffs. The leading contenders in each conference (records reflect games played through Dec. 17).

AFC W-L Div. Conf. Remaining games
c-Houston 12-2 5-0 10-1 Minnesota, at Indianapolis
c-Denver 11-3 5-0 8-2 Cleveland, Kansas City
c-New England 10-4 5-0 9-1 at Jacksonville, Miami
pd-Baltimore 9-5 4-1 8-3 NY Giants, at Cincinnati
Indianapolis 9-5 3-2 6-4 at Kansas City, Houston
Cincinnati 8-6 1-3 5-5 at Pittsburgh, Baltimore
Pittsburgh 7-7 2-2 4-6 Cincinnati, Cleveland
Miami 6-8 1-3 4-6 Buffalo, at New England
NFC W-L Div. Conf. Remaining games
c-Atlanta 12-2 3-2 8-2 at Detroit, Tampa Bay
pd-San Fran 10-3-1 2-1-1 6-3-1 at Seattle, Arizona
c-Green Bay 10-4 5-0 8-3 Tennessee, at Minnesota
d-Washington 8-6 3-1 6-4 at Philadelphia, Dallas
Seattle 9-5 1-3 6-4 San Francisco, St. Louis
Minnesota 8-6 3-2 6-5 at Houston, Green Bay
Chicago 8-6 2-3 5-5 at Arizona, at Detroit
Dallas 8-6 3-2 5-5 New Orleans, at Washington
NY Giants 8-6 2-3 7-4 at Baltimore, Philadelphia
St. Louis 6-7-1 4-0-1 5-4-1 at Tampa Bay, at Seattle
Tampa Bay 6-8 2-3 3-7 St. Louis, at Atlanta
New Orleans 6-8 3-2 4-6 at Dallas, Carolina

c — clinched division title; p — clinched playoff berth; d — division leader.

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The race for the AFC’s top two seeds:

Houston: The Texans control their own destiny. They clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with one more win. Houston can also be the No. 2 seed. The only way the Texans won’t get a bye is if they lose their remaining games while both the Broncos and Patriots win all theirs.

Denver: The Broncos’ only way to gain the top seed: two wins and two Houston losses. Denver clinches the No. 2 spot and a first-round bye by winning its final two games against the Browns and Chiefs.

New England: To be the No. 1 seed, the Patriots would need to win twice, the Texans would need to lose both games, and the Broncos would need to lose at least once. A more realistic goal: If Denver gets upset while the Patriots win their final two games, New England would earn the No. 2 seed on a tiebreaker.

Baltimore: Because of tiebreakers, the Ravens can’t clinch the top seed. Baltimore’s only scenario for a bye: two wins, two Denver losses and two New England losses.