NFL Playoff Picture through Week 14
Here’s how the AFC and NFC playoff pictures look after Week 14′s action:
1. Denver Broncos (11-2): AFC West leader
2. New England Patriots (10-3): AFC East leader
3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4): AFC North leader
4. Indianapolis Colts (8-5): AFC South leader
5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3): Wild card
6. Baltimore Ravens (7-6): Wild card
In the Hunt: Miami Dolphins (7-6), New York Jets (6-7), San Diego Chargers (6-7)
Danger Zone: Tennessee Titans (5-8), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)
So … things got pretty wild in the AFC Sunday, eh?
Baltimore’s bonkers back-and-forth victory over Minnesota kept the defending champs in playoff position with three games left. The Dolphins, though, kept pace thanks to Antonio Brown stepping out of bounds during Pittsburgh’s final desperation play. So Baltimore and Miami will head to Week 15 with 7-6 records — the Dolphins host New England on Sunday, while the Ravens visit Detroit on Monday.
Don’t bury the Jets just yet, either. For all of its issues, Rex Ryan’s team is still a mere game back in the wild-card race after beating Oakland on Sunday. San Diego’s also just one back after pasting the Giants.
There was movement here in the top four: Cincinnati leapfrogged Indianapolis for the No. 3 seed on its victory and a Colts loss. The Bengals would have climbed to No. 2 had it not been for the Patriots’ remarkable comeback against Cleveland. Instead, the Patriots (who lost earlier to Cincinnati) kept a grip on a first-round bye and stayed within striking distance of the Broncos.
Indianapolis clinched the AFC South despite losing at Cincinnati. Because of their 2-0 record against the Titans, the Colts could not fall from first even at 8-8. That Sunday setback, however, did mean that they’re essentially two games back of the Bengals due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Tennessee and Pittsburgh are on their last legs. Those teams likely have to go 3-0 to even have an outside shot.
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2): NFC West leader
2. New Orleans Saints (10-3): NFC South leader
3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5): NFC East leader
4. Detroit Lions (7-6): NFC North leader
5. Carolina Panthers (9-4): Wild card
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-4): Wild card
In the Hunt: Arizona Cardinals (8-5), Chicago Bears (7-6), Dallas Cowboys (7-6), Green Bay Packers (6-6-1)
The Saints’ win over Carolina solidified their hold on a first-round bye, but the teams play again in two weeks, this time at Carolina.
The NFC field thinned in the late-afternoon games — St. Louis and the Giants both were eliminated from contention. That said, things stayed tight at the top, with San Francisco improving to 9-4 and Arizona keeping pace by dropping the Rams.
The Eagles’ snowy victory over Detroit coupled with Green Bay’s tight win over Atlanta made the NFC North a lot more interesting. The Lions now lead the Packers — who could get Aaron Rodgers back next week, by the way — by a mere half-game. Chicago’s also a half-game back headed into Monday’s matchup with Dallas. (Detroit does hold a head-to-head sweep on the Bears, so Chicago would lose that tiebreaker.)
Philadelphia’s up to the three-seed, for the moment. Dallas could reclaim that spot and the NFC East lead with a victory in Chicago on Monday night. Such an outcome would be the preference for the Lions, too — if Detroit and Dallas finish tied at Nos. 3-4, the Lions would receive the higher seed due to an earlier win; if Detroit and Philadelphia were deadlocked, the Eagles’ Sunday win would bump them up.