NFL playoff picture 2014: All but one AFC division clinched

Only the North remains up for grabs in the AFC.

With Week 15 all but concluded, a lot of playoff positions are still at stake. That’s especially true for the NFC.

Not only are the division crowns in the NFC North, NFC West and NFC East still up for grabs, but the winners are also still alive for top seeds in the postseason. The Arizona Cardinals currently hold that position with their conference-leading 11-3 record. However, the Seattle Seahawks could overtake them next Sunday when the two face off at University of Phoenix Stadium. For the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the top seed requires winning out, and Seattle winning in Week 16 before dropping a game to the St. Louis Rams.

Still, many divisions have already been decided. In the AFC, only the North has yet to be clinched. Though the three AFC division winners all remain mathematically eligible for the top seed, that race appears to be coming down to the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. The Patriots won the regular season matchup between the two back in early November. That race could be decided by the conclusion of Week 16.

Here’s at look at the current conference standings and the playoff matchups if the season ended today:

NFC

Arizona Cardinals, NFC West (11-3)
Detroit Lions, NFC North (10-4)
Dallas Cowboys
, NFC East (10-4)
Carolina Panthers
, NFC South (5-8-1)
Seattle Seahawks, wild card (10-4)
Green Bay Packers, wild card (10-4)

Matchups if playoffs started today:

Cardinals bye week
Lions bye week
Packers vs. Cowboys
Seahawks vs. Panthers

Still in the hunt:

Philadelphia Eagles (9-5)

AFC

New England Patriots, AFC East (11-3)
Denver Broncos, AFC West (11-3)
Indianapolis Colts
, AFC South (10-4)
Cincinnati Bengals, AFC North (9-4-1)
Pittsburgh Steelers, wild card (9-5)
Baltimore Ravens
, wild card (9-5)

Matchups if playoffs started today:

Patriots bye week
Broncos bye week
Colts vs. Ravens
Bengals vs. Steelers

Still in the hunt:

Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)
San Diego Chargers (8-6)
Buffalo Bills (8-6)
Houston Texans
(7-7)

Here’s a look at how things are looking on a division-by-division basis:

AFC West

The Broncos clinched the division with their win over San Diego. That leaves the Chargers and Chiefs battling from behind for a wild card berth. Neither is currently in position to take one of conference’s two spots. Kansas City can jump over the Steelers by beating them next week. At 2-12, the Oakland Raiders are completely out of the running.

AFC East

The Patriots put the division to bed with their win over the Miami Dolphins. They’re also in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC. With the loss, the Dolphins were eliminated from the wild card race. The Bills remain a playoff candidate after a surprise win over the Packers, but they trail the Chiefs and Chargers in the race.

AFC North

The AFC North remains the most competitive division in football. While there is a scenario in which the Bengals clinch in Week 16, it’s far more likely that this division goes down to the wire. The Cleveland Browns are all but out of it at 7-7. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are just a half game out of the division lead. The Bengals control their playoff destiny, but with games against the Broncos and Steelers to close out the season, an AFC North crown won’t be easy.

AFC South

The Colts sealed the division crown with their win over the Texans in Week 15. Houston, now 7-7, have not been eliminated from playoff contention, but the path is difficult. Elsewhere in the AFC South, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are scouting the draft.

NFC West

The Cardinals are now 11-3 and a game ahead of the Seahawks. The two teams will play next week in a game that could decide the division. The San Francisco 49ers were eliminated in Week 15 with their loss to Seattle. The Rams’ season ended when Arizona defeated them last Thursday.

NFC East

By overtaking the Eagles in Philly Sunday night, the Cowboys reclaimed the top spot in the NFC East. They can clinch the division next week with a win over the Colts and an Eagles loss to the Washington. Dallas also remains alive for the No. 1 seed in the conference. Both the New York Giants and Washington have been eliminated from contention.

NFC North

The Lions jumped over the Packers for the division lead in Week 15. However, both teams control their own destiny and play each other in the season finale. Detroit and Green Bay are still alive for the top seed in the NFC. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears have been eliminated from the postseason.

NFC South

The NFC South is both sad and weirdly competitive. The Panthers leaped from third place to first with their win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the New Orleans Saints could retake the lead by beating the Bears on Monday Night Football. The Atlanta Falcons are also still alive for the NFC South crown at 5-9.

December 15, 2014 by : Posted in Uncategorized No Comments

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