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NFL playoff picture 2013: AFC is wide open, while NFC becomes clearer

The Broncos, Colts and Seahawks have clinched playoff berths, but the rest of the picture is wide open.

Monday Night Football could decide the top of the NFC North and East, but Week 14 is in the books with more teams mathematically eliminated from contention.


AFC East Standings

New England 10 3 0 349 287
Miami 7 6 0 286 276
New York Jets 6 7 0 226 337
Buffalo 4 9 0 273 334

Clinched: None

Eliminated: None

In the hunt: New England, Miami, New York, Buffalo

The top three teams won in the the AFC East in Week 14, keeping all in play. New England is firmly in the driver's seat, but the chance for a collapse is there -- especially if Rob Gronkowski misses a significant amount of time.

Miami is one spot out of the playoffs, and was unable to gain ground following a Baltimore win over Minnesota. Their victory in Pittsburgh was critical to keeping them in the race, as well as hurting the Steelers' chances.

It's a case of practical elimination vs. mathematical elimination for the Jets and Bills. Both have a chance of making the playoffs, but it would take an intricate house of cards collapsing in precisely the right way. There are ways both can make the playoffs based on tie breaking scenarios, but it would take a lot.

AFC North Standings

Cincinnati 9 4 0 334 244
Baltimore 7 6 0 278 261
Pittsburgh 5 8 0 291 312
Cleveland 4 9 0 257 324

Clinched: None

Eliminated: None

In the hunt: Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland

The Bengals lead outright, while the Ravens have the edge over Miami in the wild card due to their head-to-head win. These teams meet in Week 16, which could determine the division -- depending on what happens against New England.

Pittsburgh and Cleveland remain alive due to the weakness of the AFC, but it would take a series of complex results to change the outcome of the division.

AFC South Standings

Indianapolis 8 5 0 313 316
Tennessee 5 8 0 292 318
Jacksonville 4 9 0 201 372
Houston 2 11 0 250 350

Clinched: Indianapolis (division)

Eliminated: Houston

In the hunt: Tennessee, Jacksonville

The Indianapolis Colts are lucky to be playing in the AFC South. Andrew Luck's team is floundering after a strong start to the season, and lost despite throwing four touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals. Struggles won't be enough to keep them out of the playoffs, but it's unclear how far they'll go.

Tennessee is on the verge of a rebuild, Jacksonville is in the middle of one. Neither team is eliminated mathematically, and it feels like the Jaguars are better positioned for an unpredictable push. It will take three-straight wins paired with some luck to find a way into the playoffs.

AFC West Standings

Denver 11 2 0 515 345
Kansas City 10 3 0 343 224
San Diego 6 7 0 316 291
Oakland 4 9 0 264 337

Clinched: Denver (playoff spot)

Eliminated: None

In the hunt: Kansas City, San Diego, Oakland

The Denver Broncos juggernaut rolls on. Peyton Manning has wrapped up a guaranteed playoff spot, now he'll push for an AFC West win along with home-field advantage in the playoffs.

It would take a monumental collapse for Kansas City to miss the playoffs. They would need to lose three straight games. The Chargers picked a bad year to be stuck in the NFL's best division. It's extremely difficult for them to get a wild card from third in the division.

Oakland is hanging on by a thread, and would require a series of results as well as three straight wins to find a way.

If the playoffs started today...

1. Denver Broncos (11-2)

2. New England Patriots (10-3)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)

4. Indianapolis Colts (8-5)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

6. Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Important tiebreakers
  • Ravens ahead of Dolphins on head-to-head
  • Chargers ahead of Jets on conference record
  • Titans ahead of Steelers on head-to-head
  • Raiders ahead of Bills and Browns on conference record
  • Jaguars ahead of Bills and Browns on conference record
  • Raiders ahead of Jaguars on head-to-head
  • Browns ahead of Bills on head-to-head


NFC East Standings

Philadelphia 8 5 0 334 301
Dallas 7 5 0 329 303
New York Giants 5 8 0 251 334
Washington 3 10 0 279 407

Clinched: None

Eliminated: New York, Washington

In the hunt: Philadelphia, Dallas

Then there were two. Only the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys remain, but there could be changes when the Cowboys meet Chicago on Monday Night Football. A win would flip the top of the division based on head-to-head record.

NFC North Standings

Detroit 7 6 0 346 321
Chicago 6 6 0 323 332
Green Bay 6 6 1 316 326
Minnesota 3 9 1 315 395

Clinched: None

Eliminated: Minnesota

In the hunt: Detroit, Chicago, Green Bay

The Lions and Bears had an opportunity to force Green Bay out of the playoffs, but they waited too long. Now the Packers are poised for Aaron Rodgers' return and could make a late playoff push.

Monday Night Football will help determine the top of the division. A Bears win would tie the top on record, but Detroit still holds the tiebreaker between the teams.

NFC South Standings

New Orleans 10 3 0 343 243
Carolina 9 4 0 298 188
Tampa Bay 4 9 0 244 291
Atlanta 3 10 0 282 362

Clinched: None

Eliminated: Tampa Bay, Atlanta

In the hunt: New Orleans, Carolina

Two teams remain in the NFC South, and the New Orleans Saints are in the driver's seat. Only two straight losses will cost them the division, while the Panthers would need two wins.

Sunday Night Football separated the teams, but the key for the Saints is trying to find a way to route the playoffs through New Orleans.

NFC West Standings

Seattle 11 2 0 357 205
San Francisco 9 4 0 316 214
Arizona 8 5 0 305 257
St. Louis 5 8 0 289 308

Clinched: Seattle (playoff spot)

Eliminated: St. Louis

In the hunt: San Francisco, Arizona

This is going to be the hardest division to predict down the stretch. Seattle is in, that much is clear -- but then everything becomes a little more crazy.

San Francisco got a crucial win in Week 14, as did Arizona. There's a chance three teams from the NFC West could make it into the playoffs, with the Cardinals holding the head-to-head tiebreak with Carolina, provided the team's hold the same record at the end of the season.

If the playoffs started now...

1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2)

2. New Orleans Saints (10-3)

3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5)

4. Detroit Lions (7-6)

5. Carolina Panthers (9-4)

6. San Francisco 49ers (9-4)

Important tiebreakers
  • Panthers ahead of 49ers on head-to-head
  • Bears ahead of Packers on head-to-head

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