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Here’s what the NFL playoff picture looks like going into Week 15

The NFC sees a major shakeup.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We had some major movement in the playoff picture this week, so let’s waste no time and dive in.

AFC Playoff Picture

No. 1: New England Patriots (9-4)

Remaining opponents: Bills, Colts, Jaguars, Dolphins
Projected finish: 12-5

Well, here we are. The Patriots have gone 7-0 in the last eight weeks, and are suddenly the class of the AFC at a time where everyone else is struggling with consistency. This is where the Bill Belichick advantage shines, because he will find ways to win games. Hell, look at Monday Night Football where Mac Jones only threw the ball three times because of the wind, and New England still beat Buffalo.

No. 2: Tennessee Titans (9-4)

Remaining opponents: Steelers, 49ers, Dolphins, Texans
Projected finish: 11-6

The Titans have a great back-end schedule, but they’re still struggling majorly against top tier opponents without Derrick Henry. Limping into the playoffs might be the best this team can expect to close out 2021.

No. 3: Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)

Remaining opponents: Raiders, Chargers, Steelers, Bengals
Projected finish: 11-6

The Chiefs have made it through the most difficult part of their schedule, and are starting to become more consistent. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and there’s a shock and awe factor that can’t be denied with the Chiefs.

No. 4: Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

Remaining opponents: Steelers, Packers, Bengals, Rams
Projected finish: 9-8

The Ravens have been inconsistent, and injury-riddled. I don’t see a path to a Super Bowl run this season. Heck, at this point I think it’s not even a lock they’ll make the playoffs with their remaining schedule.

No. 5: L.A. Chargers (8-5)

Remaining opponents: Giants, Chiefs, Texans, Raiders
Projected finish: 11-6

Beating the Bengals and Broncos were a huge confidence boost down the stretch as the Chargers jump to fifth in the AFC. Justin Herbert is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, and this is a dangerous out — assuming this team doesn’t fall back into bad habits.

No. 6: Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Remaining opponents: Patriots, Cardinals, Raiders, Jaguars
Projected finish: 9-8

The Colts have been playing great football recently and finding their rhythm. Unfortunately, Indianapolis has a brutal remaining schedule and some early losses this season could come back to haunt them now.

No. 7: Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Remaining opponents: Patriots, Panthers, Falcons, Jets
Projected finish: 10-7

The Bills have become incredibly inconsistent and their plummet down the table reflects that. Thankfully this is the softest remaining slate in the league, so they’ll likely rebound up the rankings.

Who can make it in from the bubble?

As it stands there are three teams that have a realistic shot of making a run:

  • Browns (7-6)
  • Bengals (7-6)
  • Broncos (7-6)

All within striking distance, the team I could see pushing their way in is the Bengals. With critical upcoming games against the Ravens and Browns, this will be decided in the next couple of weeks.

NFC Playoff Picture

No. 1: Green Bay Packers (10-3)

Remaining opponents: Vikings, Ravens, Browns, Lions
Projected finish: 13-4

The Packers are one of the favorites in the conference now as the Cardinals take a small step back. We could very well see the NFC Playoffs heading through Lambeau. That said, I’m picking one of these games to be a loss, potentially to the Ravens or Browns.

No. 2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

Remaining opponents: Saints, Panthers (twice), Jets
Projected finish: 14-3

Beating the Bills was a major boon for the Buccaneers. Now they’re sitting at 10-3 with the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. I think they’ll end up jumping the Packers and securing the No. 1 seed.

No. 3: Arizona Cardinals (10-3)

Remaining opponents: Lions, Colts, Cowboys, Seahawks
Projected finish: 13-4

Despite the embarrassing loss to Carolina in Week 10, the Cardinals have a really beneficial schedule down the stretch that sees only the Cowboys left as a legitimate test. I think they cruise to a 13-4 record.

No. 4: Dallas Cowboys (9-4)

Remaining opponents: Washington, Giants, Cardinals, Eagles
Projected finish: 12-5

The Cowboys did the work early in the season and are benefitting now. I think they could drop a game to the Cardinals, but otherwise this is a soft close to the year.

No. 5: Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

Remaining opponents: Seahawks, Vikings, Ravens, 49ers
Projected finish: 13-4

The Rams are in great shape for the rest of the season and their signature win over the Cardinals on Monday Night Football shows there’s fight left in this team.

No. 6: San Francisco 49ers (7-6)

Remaining opponents: Falcons, Titans, Texans, Rams
Projected finish: 9-8

The Niners bounced back in a major way this week by beating the Bengals. This is now a team to watch down the stretch with a largely beneficial schedule.

No. 7: Washington Football Team (6-7)

Remaining opponents: Cowboys, Eagles (twice), Giants
Projected finish: 9-8

This team has suddenly become a scary out, especially after really pushing the Cowboys this week. I wouldn’t want to face Washington in the Wild Card round.

Who can make it in from the bubble?

In the NFC there are reasonably four teams that can make a run:

  • Eagles (6-7)
  • Vikings (6-7)
  • Falcons (6-7)
  • Saints (6-7)

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine a team making it in from the bubble, but I kind of want to see the Eagles get in so we can have three NFC East teams make it. I like weird things.