It's finally clinching season in the NFL after no teams punched a ticket to the playoffs in the first 13 weeks. That finally changed in Week 14.
The Eagles became the first team to clinch a postseason berth. Their win over the Rams gave them the NFC East title. The Steelers then joined them by locking down the AFC North with a win Sunday. Right now, those are the only two teams that will officially be playing in January. Other teams had a chance this week, but the ball didn’t bounce their way.
The Patriots could have been crowned AFC East champs on Monday Night Football, but they couldn’t get past the upset-minded Dolphins. The Vikings lost to the Panthers and will have to wait another week. There were also clinching scenarios for the Rams and Jaguars, but both needed too much help this week. The Saints had a couple scenarios too, but those all ended with their loss Thursday to the Falcons.
With just a few weeks left in the season, Week 14 was also crucial for the teams on the bubble fighting for the last few spots.
Here’s how things currently stand:
- Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)**
- New England Patriots (10-3)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)
- Kansas City Chiefs (7-6)
- Tennessee Titans (8-5)
- Buffalo Bills (7-6)
In the hunt:
The Steelers and Patriots are battling for the top spot in the AFC and both had a chance to secure division titles this week. Pittsburgh did it with a win over the Ravens on Sunday Night Football, but New England couldn’t follow suit. The Patriots lost in Miami on Monday Night Football. The Steelers are all alone in first place in the AFC this week, but they’ll face the Patriots next week in a pivotal matchup.
The tight playoff races in the conference are in the AFC South and AFC West, where both divisions were tied up entering Week 14. But the Titans fell to the Cardinals and lost the lead in the AFC South. The Jaguars beat the Seahawks, which put Jacksonville as the new leaders in the division.
In the AFC West, the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders entered Sunday tied at 6-6. The Chargers got a win over Washington to get above .500, but the Chiefs will hold them off for another week after they beat the Raiders. Oakland will have a tough time climbing back into the mix now. Miami is still alive after its surprising win over New England, but the Dolphins will need a lot of help, too.
Two more AFC teams were officially eliminated this week, joining the Browns. The Colts are out after their loss in snowy Buffalo, and that same loss extinguished any hope that Denver could still make the postseason — the Broncos' chances were about as far-fetched as it gets, though.
The Ravens’ loss to the Steelers cost them the final wild card spot this week — but just barely. The Bills’ big overtime win over the Colts in a snowstorm got them back in the playoff picture this week because of strength of victory tiebreaker.
They’re now 7-6, as are the Chargers and Ravens.
- Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)**
- Minnesota Vikings (10-3)
- Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
- New Orleans Saints (9-4)
- Carolina Panthers (9-4)
- Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
In the hunt:
Arizona Cardinals (6-7)
Like the battle between the Patriots and the Steelers in the AFC, it's the Vikings and Eagles fighting for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
This week, Minnesota lost its road game to the Panthers, and Philadelphia beat the Rams. That gave the Eagles the No. 1 spot again, though they might be without Carson Wentz for the rest of the season.
The Rams’ loss didn’t cost them the lead in the NFC West because Seattle came up short against the Jags. The Seahawks dropped out of the playoff picture this week and the Falcons moved up to the No. 6 spot.
Carolina’s victory allowed the team to stay ahead in a tight wild card race and pull even with the Saints for the NFC South lead.
It's an uphill climb for the other teams in the conference, and the Lions, Packers and Cowboys couldn’t afford a back step. All three got wins this week to improve to 7-6.