NFL playoff picture 2014: Seahawks win puts NFC order up for grabs
The Cowboys clinched the NFC East, but the NFC North is still up for grabs after Week 16.
With just a Monday Night Football matchup between Cincinnati and Denver remaining, the playoff picture looks a little clearer after Week 16. But there’s still a lot to play for, especially in the AFC and NFC North divisions.
In the AFC North, Pittsburgh moved closer to first place after beating the Kansas City Chiefs. But it will have to go through Cincinnati next week to win the division, while the Baltimore Ravens will need some help to make the postseason after losing in Houston. In the NFC North, both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers won, setting up a showdown next week that will determine not only the NFC North champion, but which teams will have first-round byes in the NFC.
The NFC South is down to two teams after this week. Wins by the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons set up an all-or-nothing showdown next week at the Georgia Dome. The winner will have the division title, the fourth seed in the playoffs and a home game to open postseason play … everything but a winning record.
The Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East and could still get a first-round bye in the playoffs (that is, if Green Bay and Detroit tie.) Seattle is in the driver’s seat for the NFC West, and could get the No. 1 seed with a win over the St. Louis Rams next week.
Here’s a look at the most current conference standings and playoff matchups if the season ended today.
1. New England Patriots, AFC East (12-3)
2. Denver Broncos, AFC West (11-3)
3. Cincinnati Bengals, AFC North (9-4-1)
4. Indianapolis Colts, AFC South (10-5)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers, AFC North (10-5)
6. San Diego Chargers, wild card (9-6)
Still in the hunt:
Kansas City Chiefs (8-7)
Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
Houston Texans (8-7)
1. Seattle Seahawks, NFC West (11-4)
2. Detroit Lions, NFC North (11-4)
3. Dallas Cowboys, NFC East (11-4)
4. Carolina Panthers, NFC South (6-8-1)
5. Arizona Cardinals, wild card (11-4)
6. Green Bay Packers, NFC North (11-4)
Still in the hunt:
Atlanta Falcons (6-9)
Here’s a look at the playoff picture on a division-by-division basis:
The NFL’s weirdest division will come down to the final week of the season when Cincinnati and Pittsburgh battle for the AFC North crown. The Ravens will need help to get into the playoffs after losing to the Texans on Sunday. The Cleveland Browns are out of playoff contention.
The Patriots clinched the division last week. The Miami Dolphins were eliminated from playoff contention by the Steelers’ win over the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills were eliminated by their loss to the Oakland Raiders. The New York Jets are completely out of the running.
The Colts clinched the AFC South last week, but their loss to Dallas this week torpedoed their chances at a first-round bye. The Texans are still technically in the hunt, but it’s a long shot.
The Broncos clinched the AFC West last week. The Chargers are still alive thanks to a come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs are technically contending for the playoffs, and the Raiders are not in the running.
The Packers clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Lions beat the Chicago Bears, meaning that next week’s game between the two will decide the NFC North champion. The Bears and Minnesota Vikings are both out of playoff contention.
The Cowboys clinched the NFC East title with a win over the Colts. Philadelphia was eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Washington on Saturday and the Cowboys’ win. The New York Giants and Washington are not in playoff contention.
The 6-8-1 Panthers and 6-9 Falcons will battle for the division title next week after Atlanta’s surprising win over the New Orleans Saints, which eliminated the Saints from playoff contention. Tampa Bay is not in the running for the playoffs.
The Seahawks’ win over the Cardinals puts them in control of the NFC West with one game remaining, but both teams have clinched playoff spots. The 49ers, who will face Arizona next week, are eliminated. The Rams are also not in the running for the playoffs.