UPDATE: The Cardinals beat up on the Packers to secure a first round bye, and the Falcons are still alive after upsetting the previously undefeated Panthers. Check out the complete playoff picture heading into Sunday Night Football here.
With just two Sundays of football left in the 2015 regular season, the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are cruising toward the No. 1 seeds in the postseason, while many other teams are still battling for the remaining spots.
One of those playoff berths was claimed by Washington on Saturday night with a 38-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The victory improved Washington to 8-7 on the year and the team's first winning record of 2015 officially earned it the NFC East crown, extinguishing the postseason hopes of both the Eagles and New York Giants.
With Washington locked into the playoff picture with the No. 4 seed, only the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons are left to claim the final spot. It's all but Minnesota's though, with a two-game lead with two weeks left to play. Even if the Falcons win in each of the last two weeks (including a game on Sunday against the Panthers), and the Vikings lose in the final two games, Atlanta's only chance is Seattle also dropping two games and making it a three-way tie for the NFC Wild Card spots.
The Vikings and Atlanta Falcons are the only other teams in the NFC outside the NFC East that are alive and left to claim the final spot. It's all but Minnesota's though, with a two-game lead with two weeks left to play. Even if the Falcons win in each of the last two weeks, including a game on Sunday against the Panthers, and the Vikings lose in the final two games, Atlanta's only chance is Seattle also dropping two games and making it a three-way tie for the NFC Wild Card spots.
In the AFC, there are a couple races worth watching, including a blistering race for the two wild card spots. The Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets are all tied at 9-5 and carry winning streaks of at least three into Week 16, which have primed each team to earn a spot, although the Jets are currently the odds ones out. It's possible that all three could still get in, if the Denver Broncos can't find wins down the stretch.
Even if the Broncos earn a win and finish the year 11-5, it's not a guarantee that they would be playing into the second week of January. Only two teams in NFL history have missed the playoffs with an 11-5 record, but it would likely take back-to-back losses to keep Denver out. On Monday, the Broncos will have a chance to end doubts about their spot in the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals, but a loss would put them in a hairy situation entering Week 17.
The other race in the AFC is the pillow fight for the AFC South, which is currently led by the Houston Texans. After beating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15, the Texans have a one-game lead over the Colts with two weeks to play and two games over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A win on Sunday over the Tennessee Titans coupled with a loss for the Colts against the Miami Dolphins would end the AFC South race and give the crown to the Texans, but a loss could even give the Jaguars life who play the Texans in Week 17.
|No.||Team||Super Bowl win|
|1||Carolina Panthers||21.4 percent|
|2||New England Patriots||16.5 percent|
|3||Arizona Cardinals||14.5 percent|
|4||Seattle Seahawks||11.9 percent|
|5||Kansas City Chiefs||9.8 percent|
Here are the current standings entering Sunday:
1. (z) New England Patriots (12-2)
2. (x) Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)
3. Denver Broncos (10-4)
4. Houston Texans (7-7)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
In The Hunt
New York Jets (9-5)
Indianapolis Colts (6-8)
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9)
1. (z) Carolina Panthers (14-0)
2. (y) Arizona Cardinals (12-2)
3. (x) Green Bay Packers (10-4)
4. (y) Washington (7-7)
5. (x) Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
6. Minnesota Vikings (9-5)
In The Hunt
Atlanta Falcons (7-7)
(z) - First-round bye
(y) - Division winner
(x) - Playoff berth
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