The picture for the NFL playoffs became a little clearer after Week 14.
The Carolina Panthers (13-0) are already in, having clinched the NFC South division title with their Week 13 victory over the Saints. Yesterday’s blowout victory over the Falcons ensured a first round bye for the team.
Looking at the rest of the conference, the Arizona Cardinals (11-2) are the only other team from the NFC Conference that has clinched a playoff spot. The Cardinals can wrap up the NFC West in the coming weeks. In the other NFC divisions, the Green Bay Packers (9-4) lead the NFC North and the Washington Redskins (6-7) lead the NFC East.
If the season were to end today, the divisional leaders of the NFC, the Panthers, the Cardinals, the Packers and the Redskins, would all be in the playoffs. The wildcard spots would go to the Seattle Seahawks (8-5), who are behind the Cardinals in the race for the NFC West, and the Minnesota Vikings (8-5), who are behind the Packers in the race for the NFC North.
Despite their sub-par records, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7), Atlanta Falcons (6-7), Philadelphia Eagles (6-7), New York Giants (5-7), St. Louis Rams (5-8), New Orleans Saints (5-8), Chicago Bears (5-8) and Dallas Cowboys (4-9) all remain in the playoff hunt in the NFC. Rounding out the conference, the Detroit Lions (4-9) and the San Francisco 49ers (4-9) have been eliminated from the playoff picture.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots (11-2) are the only team in the conference that has officially clinched a playoff spot. In the rest of the AFC, the playoff picture is a little bit more clear.
Despite both teams suffering losses on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) still lead the AFC North and the Denver Broncos (10-3) still lead the AFC West. In the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts (6-7) lead.
If the playoffs began today, the divisional leaders of the AFC, the Patriots, the Bengals, the Broncos and the Colts, would all be in. The wildcard spots would go to the Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) and the New York Jets (8-5).
Still alive in the playoff race in the AFC are the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5), Oakland Raiders (6-7), Buffalo Bills (6-7), Houston Texans (6-7), Miami Dolphins (5-7) and Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8). The Baltimore Ravens (4-9), San Diego Chargers (3-10), Cleveland Browns (3-10) and Tennessee Titans (3-10) have all been eliminated from the playoff picture.
The New York Giants will take on the Miami Dolphins tonight to wrap up Week 14 action. A Dolphins’ loss will clinch the AFC East division title for the Patriots.