Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks after Week 15:
NFC\sx – 1. The Philadelphia Eagles (12-1) are the first team to punch their playoff ticket for 2022, making it two years in a row under coach Nick Sirianni. Philly also picked up breathing room in its bid for a bye and home-field advantage thanks to Minnesota’s Week 14 loss. The remaining schedule includes games against the Bears, the Cowboys, the Saints, and the Giants.
- Minnesota Vikings (10-3), leaders of the NFC North: They didn’t win their division last weekend, but they still have one more win (or Detroit loss) to do so. However, any hope of stealing the NFC’s top seed is quickly fading. The remaining games are against the Colts, the Giants, the Packers, and the Bears.
y – 3. NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers (10-4): With a Minnesota loss Saturday, the Niners would become the first team to win a division title in the 2022 season, moving up to the No. 2 seed. Their last two NFC West championships (2012, 2019) resulted in Super Bowl appearances. The remaining games are against the Commanders, at the Raiders, and against the Cardinals.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7), leaders of the NFC South: Despite an embarrassing loss to the 49ers on Sunday, they remain atop this dreadful division. But keep an eye out for objects in the rearview mirror: the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, both 5-8, are now just a game behind the Bucs for first place. The remaining schedule includes games against the Bengals, the Cardinals, the Panthers, and the Falcons.
- Dallas Cowboys (10-3), first wild card: Even if they ignored Houston, they survived. They can’t do the same thing next weekend in Jacksonville if they want their Week 16 matchup with Philadelphia to be meaningful in terms of NFC East implications. More immediately, a victory advances America’s Team to the playoffs. Dallas would also secure a spot if the Lions or Commanders lost. The remaining schedule includes games against the Jaguars, the Eagles, the Titans, and the Commanders.
Wild card No. 2: Washington Commanders (7-5-1). Week 14 was a rather productive one for a team that didn’t play. During their bye week, the Commanders, who have won six of their last eight games, jumped from eighth to sixth place in the NFC, thanks to losses by the Giants and Seahawks. The remaining schedule includes games against the Giants, the 49ers, the Browns, and the Cowboys.
- New York Giants (7-5-1), third wild card: With only one win in their last six games, they’re sinking like a stone. Washington’s superior record in NFC East games has vaulted the Commanders ahead of the Giants heading into their pivotal Week 15 rematch. The remaining games are against the Commanders, the Vikings, the Colts, and the Eagles.
- Seattle Seahawks (7-7), out of the playoffs: The loss on Thursday was their fourth in the last five games, as they continue to fall behind in the playoff race. The remaining games are against the Chiefs, the Jets, and the Rams.
- Detroit Lions (6-7), out of the playoffs: There is no room for error for a long-shot run at the NFC North throne. However, the chances of them becoming the first team since 1990 to overcome a 1-6 start and make the playoffs are increasing. The remaining games are against the Jets, the Panthers, the Bears, and the Packers.
AFC\s1. Buffalo Bills (10-3), leaders of the AFC East: They have the inside track to stay in Orchard Park through January and will clinch the AFC’s first playoff berth if they beat Miami on Saturday night. The remaining games on the schedule are against the Dolphins, the Bears, the Bengals, and the Patriots.
- Kansas City Chiefs (10-3), leaders of the AFC West: Their Week 6 loss to the Bills means the road to the AFC title now passes through Buffalo. However, with one more win or loss by the Chargers, whom the Chiefs have already swept, Kansas City will win its seventh consecutive divisional title. And the upcoming schedule suggests that if the Bills falter, the No. 1 seed remains a distinct possibility. The remaining games are against the Texans, the Seahawks, the Broncos, and the Raiders.
- Baltimore Ravens (9-4), AFC North leaders: They maintain their lead in the division thanks to a tiebreaker – a win over Cincinnati in Week 5, which Baltimore will face again – but will be without QB Lamar Jackson for at least another week. At the very least, the short-term schedule appears to be favourable. The remaining schedule includes games against the Browns, Falcons, Steelers, and Bengals.
- Tennessee Titans (7-6), leaders of the AFC South: Uncharacteristically blown out two weeks in a row – and now losers of three straight – they look to be a one-and-done postseason squad for the third consecutive year … assuming they get that far with Jacksonville (5-8) steadily closing on them in the division. The remaining schedule includes games against the Chargers, Texans, Cowboys, and Jaguars.
- Cincinnati Bengals (9-4), No. 1 wild card: The defending AFC champions are keeping pace with the battered Ravens, but they face a much more difficult schedule ahead of a potentially pivotal Week 18 rematch with Baltimore. The remaining games are against the Buccaneers, the Patriots, the Bills, and the Ravens.
- Miami Dolphins (8-5), wild card No. 2: After returning from a 0-2 trip on the West Coast, the Dolphins are back east ahead of a high-stakes game at Buffalo on Saturday night. Remaining schedule: at Bills, vs. Packers, at Patriots, vs. Jets
- New England Patriots (7-6), wild card No. 3: A season sweep of the Jets puts them ahead of New York, while a better AFC record gives them a tiebreaker advantage over the Chargers.
The remaining games are against the Raiders, the Bengals, the Dolphins, and the Bills.
- Los Angeles Chargers (7-6), out of the playoffs: Surviving the Dolphins allowed the Bolts to leapfrog the Jets into the final wild-card spot (due to their superior record in AFC games) on Sunday night… but they handed it over to New England on Monday. The Bolts’ 5-4 record in AFC games keeps them ahead of the Jets. The remaining games are against the Titans, at the Colts, at the Rams, and at the Broncos.
- New York Jets (7-6), out of the playoffs: In Week 14, they dropped from seventh to ninth place. They now face a virtual must-win situation against the Lions. Schedule remaining: vs. the Lions, the Jaguars, the Seahawks, and the Dolphins
x – secured berth y – secured division