There are just a couple weeks left in the NFL’s regular season, and we’re just starting to see how postseason will shake out. In Week 14, the Chiefs clinched the AFC West title, becoming the second team to lock down their division after the Saints. The Ravens also nailed down a playoff spot by beating the Bills last week.
This week, five more teams officially made it into the playoffs, and a few others were eliminated. While Week 15 may not look like it had that many marquee matchups, there were some key games that majorly altered the playoff picture, including the Texans taking down the Titans to stay in front in the AFC South.
Let’s check out all the scenarios from Week 15.
The Ravens clinched the AFC North on Thursday, and they could’ve grabbed a first-round bye with:
With the Ravens’ 42-21 win over the New York Jets on Thursday night, Baltimore improved to 12-2 and won the AFC North.
They’re currently the projected No. 1 seed in the AFC and could have clinched a first-round bye with:
2. A Chiefs loss to Broncos
Baltimore could have also claimed homefield advantage for the playoffs with:
- A Patriots loss paired with a Chiefs loss
However, the Patriots and Chiefs both won, which means Ravens will have wait to get that homefield advantage.
The Bills snatched a playoff spot on Sunday night with:
With a win over the Steelers on Sunday night, Buffalo improved to 10-4 and clinched a playoff berth.
The Bills got the hard-fought 17-10 win at Heinz Field, and stopped the momentum the Steelers were riding from a three-game win streak.
The Bills clinched with:
- A win over the Steelers
The Bills are still very much alive in the AFC East race, even though they sit behind the Patriots.
The Patriots finally punched their ticket this weekend with:
I bet you didn’t expect the Patriots to not have sewn up a playoff spot coming into Week 15, huh? Well, thanks to the Patriots not being nearly as unstoppable as they have been in years past — highlighted by the lack of weapons around Tom Brady and offensive line struggles — they had to wait a bit longer to seal their playoff fate.
Luckily for New England, it was facing the one-win Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Bengals kept it close in the first half — maybe they were upset with the whole Spygate 2.0 saga from earlier this week — but the Patriots blew them out in the second half and won, 34-13, to clinch a berth.
All it took was:
- A Patriots win over the Bengals
The Packers beat a big rival, and it helped them make it to the postseason with:
Green Bay swept the season series with the Bears, but it wasn’t easy. On Sunday, they had to hold off a Chicago team that had been surging as of late. The Bears had won three straight games, and Mitchell Trubisky has looked a lot more comfortable than he did earlier this year. However, the Packers stopped the Bears’ hot streak and won 21-13.
The Packers are leading the NFC North, but they can’t win the division this week. They did get into the playoffs, though, because they needed:
The Packers took care of part one, and the Cowboys’ win over the Rams handled the second part.
The 49ers finally are guaranteed a playoff spot with:
It isn’t too surprising that San Francisco was a 10.5-point favorite over the Falcons. The 49ers entered the week riding a ton of momentum following their thrilling 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints. The win capped off a brutal three-game stretch for San Francisco featuring games against the Ravens and Packers before the Saints win. Finishing 2-1 there was huge and got the 49ers into the No. 1 spot in the NFC for the time being.
What WAS surprising is that the 49ers lost on a last-second touchdown to the Falcons. The 49ers still made the playoffs, but they dropped in the standings to the No. 5 seed.
Here’s what the 49ers needed to secure their playoff spot:
- A win over the Falcons
- A Rams loss to the Cowboys OR
- A Vikings loss to the Chargers and a Packers loss
The Rams lost to the Cowboys, which got the 49ers in the playoffs.
The Seahawks locked down a berth this week with:
The Seahawks were a favorite on the road against the Panthers this week. Seattle plays the 49ers in Week 17, a game that will likely be for the NFC West title. First, the Seahawks have to get into the playoffs, then figure out the rest of the seeding against the 49ers later.
Here’s what it took for Russell Wilson to lead his team to the playoffs for the seventh time:
- A win over Carolina and a Rams loss to the Cowboys OR
- A win and a Vikings loss
The Seahawks beat the Panthers, and the Rams lost to the Cowboys.
OK, so who got eliminated this week?
Week 14 was not kind to fringe teams. We saw the Jaguars, Bucs, Panthers, Chargers, Washington, and Jets officially get axed from playoff contention. This week, the Broncos, Bears, and Colts joined the party, and a couple more teams could have had their playoff hopes ended too. ‘Tis the season!
Here’s a look at the elimination scenarios for Week 15. Special shoutout to NFL Playoff Scenarios on Reddit, for breaking all of these down (and all the tie scenarios too).
The incredibly hyped up Cleveland Browns could have been out of the playoff race with:
- A loss to to the Cardinals and a Steelers win
The Browns dropped the road game in Arizona, but the Steelers did Cleveland a favor by losing to the Bills.
Jon Gruden’s Raiders would’ve been booted if:
- Oakland lost to the Jags and the Steelers won
The Raiders lost on a last-minute drive, but the Steelers’ loss also kept the Raiders alive, at least for this week.
The Bears were eliminated from the playoffs with:
- A loss to the Packers and a Vikings win OR
- A loss to the Packers and a Rams win
The Bears lost and the Vikings won, which means Chicago won’t make it back to the playoffs this year.
The Broncos’ postseason hopes are now gone with:
- A loss to Kansas City OR
- A Steelers win
Denver got blown out in Kansas City, so the Broncos are now out.
The Colts were eliminated from both AFC South division title hopes and playoff contention with:
- A loss to the Saints on Monday night
The Colts were thrashed on a record-breaking night for Drew Brees and got knocked out of contention in the process.
If the playoffs started today, which teams would be in?
Only the Ravens, Chiefs, and Saints have clinched their divisions, so there are a lot of pieces left to be filled in here. But as it stands now in Week 15:
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-3)*
2. Green Bay Packers (11-3)*
3. New Orleans Saints (11-3)**
4. Dallas Cowboys (7-7)
5. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)*
6. Minnesota Vikings (10-4)
1. Baltimore Ravens (12-2) **
2. New England Patriots (11-3)*
3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)**
4. Houston Texans (9-5)
5. Buffalo Bills (10-4)*
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6)
*clinched a playoff spot