Posted December 17, 2013

NFL Playoff Picture through Week 15

NFL Playoffs
A win over the Browns has the Bears in position to capture the NFC North.

A win over the Browns has the Bears in position to capture the NFC North. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Here’s how the AFC and NFC playoff pictures look after Sunday’s action (Baltimore plays at Detroit on Monday):

AFC

1. Denver Broncos (11-3): AFC West leader *
2. New England Patriots (10-4): AFC East leader
3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5): AFC North leader
4. Indianapolis Colts (9-5): AFC South leader *
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3): Wild card *
6. Baltimore Ravens (8-6): Wild card

In the Hunt: Miami Dolphins (8-6), San Diego Chargers (7-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8), New York Jets (6-8)

(* = has clinched playoff berth)

The Broncos’ Thursday night loss to San Diego might turn out to be rather moot, thanks to Miami’s upset of New England. With the dramatic Dolphins’ victory, Denver reclaimed control of its own destiny for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage until the Super Bowl.

Same goes for the Patriots’ loss to Miami, at least in terms of how it affected the chase for first-round byes. Cincinnati could have pulled in front of New England for the No. 2 seed by beating Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Instead, the Bengals crumbled. (If you’re wondering how the Steelers can sneak into the playoffs, by the way, here’s that scenario.)

The Bengals still could clinch the AFC North with a Week 16 win coupled with a Baltimore loss to New England. But the Ravens also control their own destiny — win their final two and they’d leapfrog the Bengals by virtue of a head-to-head sweep. 

Miami also is in with a 2-0 finish, because of that remaining Cincinnati-Baltimore game. At 10-6, the Dolphins would jump past the loser of that game (either a 9-7 Ravens team or a 10-6 Bengals team on the conference-record tiebreaker).

Kansas City clinched a playoff spot with its win Sunday, becoming the third AFC team to lock down a bid.

NFC

1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2): NFC West leader *
2. New Orleans Saints (10-4): NFC South leader
3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6): NFC East leader
4. Chicago Bears (8-6): NFC North leader
5. Carolina Panthers (10-4)Wild card
6. San Francisco 49ers (10-4)Wild card

In the Hunt: Arizona Cardinals (9-5), Green Bay Packers (7-6-1), Detroit Lions (7-7), Dallas Cowboys (7-7)

There was movement in the NFC, too. Both of the NFC East leaders (Philadelphia and Dallas) lost, the latter in shocking fashion. As a result, the Eagles stayed on top of the division and could clinch the title next week with a win plus a Dallas loss or tie. Barring that set of circumstances, those two teams will play for the division crown in Week 17.

The NFC North also appears headed to Week 17, one way or another. The Bears could clinch the division crown next Sunday with a win and losses by both Green Bay and Detroit. Saving that, the Bears may need to beat the Packers in Week 17.

The Lions, who once appeared a near-lock to take the division, would be eliminated from contention in Week 16 if both the Bears and Packers win. Since those two teams play on the season’s final Sunday, Detroit would be unable to pull past both regardless of how it finishes.

Carolina and San Francisco both won, moving the teams to the brink of clinching wild-card spots. Arizona kept pace, though, and is now 9-5. The Cardinals need help to secure a postseason spot. None of the other teams still alive — Green Bay, Detroit, Dallas — can catch the Panthers or 49ers for a wild-card spot.

16 comments
SteveDown
SteveDown

Uh oh, here come the Ravens again.  Denver fan here and I'm getting nervous.

Samuel3
Samuel3

It is amazing that the packers could end up with a home game, and Carolina coming into Lambeau is a game the Packers could win.  Recent history suggests that it is possible for a team to squeak in like that and then make a run to a title.  The Giants did it twice and the Packers last SB run began with sneaking into the playoffs in week 17 with some miracle play.  Then they went 15-1 and lost their first playoff game.  So.....anything can happen.  It is exciting though, isn't it?

racy0057
racy0057

I think maybe it's time to stop ignoring that there is an NFL team in Kansas City, that may very well be the hottest team in the league right now.  What we discovered when they lost 3 in a row, to Denver and San Diego, is that they possess an offense that can get into a shootout, if necessary and come within a 4th down play, in the redzone, of beating the Broncos.  The Chiefs have scored over 100 points, the past 2 weeks.  If they can get even 70% of the level of defense, played during the first 7 or 8 games, they can compete with any team.  The Chiefs are set up for a playoff run.  They aren't weather dependant, due to a strong rushing game and not relying on long, downfield passes, they play well on the road, they don't turn the ball over, but force allot of turnovers with their defense and their special teams often leave them with a short field.  Alex Smith has proven to be calm, under pressure and to have the ability to carry the team, if needed.  I do believe that I just stated some of the main criteria for a successful playoff run.  Laugh now, because y'all won't be in about 3 weeks, when it may be your team that the lowly Chiefs knock out of the playoffs.

JerronDavison
JerronDavison

Chi-Town or nothin, them Detroit Kitty Cats can't win a title if we put on they lap, don't believe me just watch!

Fifilo
Fifilo

If the Lions cannot pull out a division title with the rest of the teams in their division playing backup QB's, they need to consider cleaning house. What is it now, 20 years since last division title?

pvs
pvs

There is a good chance that the Pats end up in the 3rd or 4th spot when the regular season ends. The game against the Ravens will likely determine if they get a bye week.

CLTBraves2
CLTBraves2

Carolina wins the NFC South if the beat the Saints and Falcons. You kinda left that part out.

j7apple
j7apple

Detroit loses one, and Green Bay wins out, they win the division ..How ironic.

pirate
pirate

@j7appleUnlikely, perhaps, maybe even amazing. But not ironic. Look it up.

TheodoreCleaver
TheodoreCleaver

Isn't it ironic that the word "pirate " is oftentimes preceeded by the word "butt?"

j7apple
j7apple

@TerrapinStation87 @j7apple Ironic that in a stretch of losing 4 out of 5 and a tie on the other, that here they are controlling their own destiny with one Detroit loss. after they manage to squeak out 2 wins.