Updated playoff picture: The Patriots' loss keeps Broncos on top, and more from Sunday's early games.
With Week 15 here, parity in the NFL is rearing its head again. Twenty-five teams are still mathematically in contention for the postseason, with only three having punched their playoff tickets. There aren't many games this week that have a direct impact on the divisional standings, but there are plenty of opportunities for teams to move up, and six teams can clinch playoff spots or division titles in Week 15.
Let's run down the scenarios in play on Sunday.
In the hunt: Miami Dolphins (7-6), San Diego Chargers (7-7), New York Jets (6-7), Tennessee Titans (5-8), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8), Oakland Raiders (4-9), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9), Cleveland Browns (4-9), Buffalo Bills (4-9)
The Broncos had a chance to clinch the AFC West this week, but they got tripped up by the Chargers on Thursday night. The Patriots are just one game back of the No. 1 seed and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, meaning that Denver won't get a chance to rest its starters down the stretch. The Colts already wrapped up the South, while the Chiefs almost certainly will be getting the No. 5 seed. The second wild card spot remains wide open.
- Kansas City clinches playoff spot with win or tie OR Miami loss or tie OR Baltimore loss or tie.
- New England clinches AFC East with win or tie. Clinches playoff spot with Baltimore loss or tie.
- Cincinnati clinches AFC North with win plus Baltimore loss or tie OR tie plus Baltimore loss. Clinches playoff spot with win plus Miami loss or tie OR tie plus Miami loss.
The Seahawks had a chance to wrap up the West and a first-round bye last week, but they'll need a little extra help after dropping a game to the 49ers on the road. The Eagles moved into first place in the East after Dallas' implosion on Monday night. The Lions are looking closely over their shoulders with the Bears and Packers still hanging around. The Cardinals are still nipping at San Francisco's heels, but their 1-3 division record means that they'll need a lot more help to get a wild card spot.
- Seattle clinches NFC West and first-round bye with win plus San Francisco loss or tie OR tie plus San Francisco loss. Clinches home-field advantage with win plus San Francisco loss or tie plus New Orleans loss.
- New Orleans clinches playoff spot with win OR tie plus Arizona loss OR tie plus San Francisco loss or tie OR Arizona loss plus Dallas loss or tie OR Arizona loss plus Philadelphia loss or tie OR San Francisco loss plus Dallas loss or tie plus Arizona tie OR San Francisco loss plus Philadelphia loss or tie plus Arizona tie.
- Carolina clinches playoff spot with win plus Arizona loss plus San Francisco loss plus Dallas loss or tie OR win plus San Francisco plus Arizona loss Philadelphia loss or tie.
- San Francisco clinches playoff spot with win plus Arizona loss plus Dallas loss or tie OR win plus Arizona loss plus Philadelphia loss or tie.