With just four weeks left in the season, 31 teams are still mathematically in contention for a playoff spot. How's that for parity?
Only one team punched its playoff ticket in Week 13, and that happened before the team even played. The Carolina Panthers officially clinched the NFC South when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the imploding Atlanta Falcons, putting both teams at 6-6. Carolina went on to win a thrilling back-and-forth game against the New Orleans Saints, staying undefeated on the year.
The rest of the NFC saw a bit more clarity, particularly in the wild card race. The Green Bay Packers moved back into first place in the NFC North thanks to Thursday's miraculous Hail Mary play. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings faceplanted at home, falling to the Seattle Seahawks, 38-7. Seattle now has sole possession of the No. 6 seed and holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Minnesota, which dropped to No. 5.
The NFC East saw yet another twist this week when the Philadelphia Eagles stunned the New England Patriots on the road. Then on Monday night Matt Cassel and the Cowboys pulled off the road upset in Washington. Jay Gruden's crew is now in a three-way tie with the Eagles and Giants for first place in the division. Dallas, at 4-8, is just one game back.
Over in the AFC, we got our first official lame duck team with the Cleveland Browns (who else?) eliminated from postseason contention. The Tennessee Titans could've joined them this week, but won a shootout over the Jacksonville Jaguars and remain alive in the AFC South "race."
The top of the AFC got a major shakeup on Sunday. The Patriots' upset loss dropped them to the No. 3 seed behind the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. The Bengals and Broncos face each other in Week 16 in a game that could determine home field advantage.
The AFC Wild Card race is starting to get narrowed down. The Houston Texans lost to the Buffalo Bills, falling well behind at 6-6 in the process. At this point, it looks like the Week 16 game against the Indianapolis Colts could decide the division. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets solidified their positions with wins, while the Pittsburgh Steelers kept pace with a rout over the Colts on Sunday Night Football.
Here are the complete standings after Week 13 games.
|New England Patriots||10||2||6-1||4-1||4-0||7-1|
|New York Jets||7||5||4-2||3-3||3-3||5-4|
|Kansas City Chiefs||7||5||3-2||4-3||3-1||6-2|
|San Diego Chargers||3||9||2-5||1-4||0-3||2-6|
|New York Giants||5||7||3-3||2-4||2-3||4-5|
|Green Bay Packers||8||4||4-2||4-2||3-2||6-3|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||6||3-3||3-3||3-1||5-3|
|New Orleans Saints||4||8||3-3||1-5||1-3||3-6|
|St. Louis Rams||4||8||3-3||1-5||3-1||3-5|
|San Francisco 49ers||4||8||3-3||1-5||0-5||3-7|
x - clinched playoff spot
y - clinched division
z - clinched homefield advantage
And here's the updated playoff picture, pending Monday night's game.
1. Bengals (10-2)
2. Broncos (10-2)
3. Patriots (10-2)
4. Colts (6-6)
5. Chiefs (7-5)
6. Jets (7-5)
In the hunt:
1. Panthers (12-0)
2. Cardinals (10-2)
3. Packers (8-4)
4. Washington (5-6)
5. Vikings (8-4)
6. Seahawks (7-5)
In the hunt:
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SB Nation presents: Cam Newton won't stop until a kid gets his TD ball