NFL playoff picture 2014: Chargers help postseason chances with overtime win
Both the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers are fighting for their playoff lives. The Chargers helped themselves with a win on Saturday.
With a handful of divisions already decided, a couple fringe playoff contenders were in action in both games on Saturday. The San Diego Chargers took on the San Francisco 49ers Saturday night, but earlier in the day, the Philadelphia Eagles took on Washington.
In that first game, Philadelphia couldn’t get past Washington, dropping their third consecutive game and virtually extinguishing their playoff hopes. They’re not totally eliminated at this point, but it’s going to be awfully tough to take control of the NFC East now. They lost control to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15, and now have to hope for a Dallas loss on Sunday.
Fortunately for Philadelphia, the Cowboys are playing the Indianapolis Colts, a team that has already clinched the AFC South. Indianapolis is fighting for seeding at this point, so they’ll still be playing hard against Dallas. The Eagles will play the New York Giants in Week 17, while Dallas will take on Washington.
The early game did manage to seal a playoff berth for one team: the Detroit Lions. Due to a series of tiebreakers, the Lions are guaranteed a playoff berth, even if they don’t manage to win the NFC North.
In the latter game, the Chargers were almost overwhelmed by the 49ers. San Francicsco took a three-score lead into the second half, but San Diego held on to seal the victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. San Diego has a couple ways into the postseason, but all of them require a win in Week 17 as well. They’ll be rooting for losses by the entire AFC North, sans the Cleveland Browns, on Sunday.
AFC Playoff standings
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
6. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
If the playoffs were to happen today, then the AFC would include three teams from the AFC North. The Cincinnati Bengals hold a tenuous half-game lead thanks to a tie earlier in the season, while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are fighting to take it back over. But if the playoffs started today, those two teams would be playing.
If the AFC North is the most exciting and most competitive division in football, the AFC South is the opposite of that. It’s not a dumpster fire like the NFC South, but it wasn’t very competitive. The Houston Texans were a better team than anybody gave them credit for, but the Indianapolis Colts were ahead the entire season and locked up the division in Week 15.
While the aforementioned Chargers were on display Saturday, attempting to keep their playoff hopes alive, it was for a wild card spot, as the Denver Broncos laid claim to the AFC West in Week 15. San Diego and Kansas City, like Houston, fought harder than maybe some expected, but the Broncos are now fighting for the No. 1 seed heading into Sunday.
The New England Patriots also locked down the NFC East in Week 15. They’ve got the No. 1 seed on their mind heading into Sunday’s games, while the Buffalo Bills are still clinging on to playoff hopes, though they need a lot of help to make it in as wildcards.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, both wildcard spots in the AFC are occupied by the AFC North. On Sunday, that all could change if the Steelers or Ravens lose, but for the time being, if the AFC North keeps winning, they’ve got the edge as they have one more win than the Chiefs, Bills and the Chargers.
NFC Playoff standings
The Detroit Lions clinched a playoff berth thanks to Philadelphia’s loss, but they won’t get the NFC North unless they win on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers loss. Green Bay, meanwhile, needs the Cowboys to win or tie to clinch a playoff berth. They can also simply win or tie to clinch a berth as well, though the NFC North is out of reach until Week 17.
The NFC South is the worst division in football by far, but it’s also one of the most competitive. The New Orleans Saints lead the division with a 6-8 record, and they can clinch the division with a win over the Atlanta Falcons coupled with a Carolina Panthers loss. If that doesn’t happen, then the division will go into Week 17 up for grabs. Obviously, none of these teams are fighting for a wildcard spot.
The Arizona Cardinals have led the NFC West all season, but that could chance in Week 16. Arizona can seal the division and the top seed in the NFC with a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but they can also lose control of the division with a loss. Whatever the case, they’ve already clinched a playoff spot.
The Cowboys can take the NFC East if they manage to win or tie on Sunday. That would eliminate the Eagles from contention. Any clinching of a playoff berth also includes a a win or a tie as well, so there’s no need to go over those scenarios.
This one is interesting. The Cardinals have clinched a playoff spot, but they’d get one of the wildcard spots if the Seahawks take control of the NFC West. The Seahawks can clinch a playoff berth (and a wildcard spot if they don’t secure the division on Sunday) with a win or tie, or a Cowboys win or tie on Sunday. Right now, it’s the Eagles on the outside looking in after Sunday’s loss.