Week 13 was the first time NFL teams could earn a spot in the playoffs. Only the Saints followed through, but several others could punch their tickets into the postseason in Week 14. The 49ers and Patriots had a shot for the second week in a row. They were joined by four other teams — the Ravens, Bills, Chiefs, and Seahawks — in being able to clinch this week.
In the end, only three of those teams have taken care of business: the Ravens and Chiefs.
San Francisco remains one of the more interesting teams to follow in this playoff race. With their loss to the Ravens and a win for the Seahawks last week, the 49ers came into the week 10-2 and a fifth seed. That’s due to Seattle, which is also 10-2, owning a win over them. Their thrilling win over the Saints in Week 14 helps the 49ers’ cause for getting the No. 1 seed, though.
In addition to those teams, nearly a fifth of the league was eliminated from contention in Week 14. Seven teams were on the hot seat and six were knocked out.
Let’s jump into the scenarios for Week 14.
The seemingly unstoppable Lamar Jackson has taken the Ravens to the playoffs with:
They are the most proven team in the NFL.
On Sunday, they clinched a playoff berth with their 24-17 win over the Bills and still have a chance to secure the division crown. Here’s a look at their scenarios:
- A win over the Bills plus a Steelers loss to the Cardinals (clinches AFC North) OR
- A win over the Bills (clinches playoff berth)
The Steelers beat the Cardinals, however, so the Ravens could only guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason this week.
Josh Allen’s Bills (?!) could have clinched a playoff spot with:
The Bills are 9-4, despite having few expectations coming into this season. Josh Allen isn’t perfect, but he’s come a long way as a passer versus his college days and rookie season. Even though he’s not Jackson running the ball, his rushing ability is impressive.
Unfortunately, he had to face Jackson and the Ravens on Sunday. It’s potentially Buffalo’s most difficult game of the season.
There was only one way the Bills make the playoffs this week, and their loss to the Ravens meant they couldn’t get it done this week:
The 49ers could have made the playoffs much more handsome with:
If there’s any proof that NFL playoff seeding is bad, it’s the fact that the 49ers — whose two losses were by a combined six points — came into Week 14 set to play the 6-7 Cowboys on the road in the Wild Card Round.
That’s no longer the case, at least for this week. Kyle Shanahan’s team is currently back in the No. 1 spot in the NFC. First, they did their job with a last-second victory over the NFC South champion Saints, capping off a historically tough three-game stretch. Then, they needed a little help from their divisional rival.
Here’s what had to happen for them to clinch this week after a 48-46 win over the Saints:
- A Rams loss to Seattle
The Rams took down the Seahawks on Sunday night, which means that once again, the 49ers will have to wait to clinch their first playoff spot since the 2013 season.
Did you forget about the Chiefs? Because they are in with:
Once Jackson started doing crazy things for the Ravens, it seemed like Patrick Mahomes stopped being the “it” quarterback.
Overlook him at your own peril. In 11 games, he’s tossed 21 touchdowns against just three interceptions this season. If there’s a time for Mahomes to take back the spotlight, it will be in the postseason.
With a win in New England — breaking the Patriots’ 21-game home winning streak in the process — the Chiefs not only secured their spot in the playoffs, but they claimed the AFC West again.
Here’s how that happened:
- The win over the Patriots and the Raiders’ loss to the Titans
The Patriots could have secured another playoff (Super Bowl, probably) berth with:
Tom Brady is having something of a decline this year. His velocity looks down. Huge plays aren’t happening as often as they used to.
And they’re still 10-3. The Patriots are inevitable, so they shouldn’t feel too pressured about winning this week. Still, a win over the Chiefs would’ve been a big statement. Now, they’ve lost two in a row. Regardless, it’s already looking like they’re going to have a top seed just based on remaining games and current records.
Here’s what they needed to clinch Sunday (it’s very simple):
- A win over the Chiefs
The game itself wasn’t so simple, though. The Patriots fell in a 23-7 hole and came up just short in a comeback attempt, losing 23-16.
Against Seahawks tradition, they could have wrapped things up early by:
It seemed like the Seahawks were due to regress this season, but apparently nobody told them about it. Russell Wilson is in MVP form, and Seattle owns some quality wins, notably a narrow overtime victory over the 49ers.
Things get especially interesting for the Seahawks when you consider they play the 49ers again in Week 17. That game could easily be for the NFC West title.
This week, there was a surprisingly drama-free way the Seahawks could’ve punched their ticket this week. All they needed was:
- A win over the Rams
Instead, the Seahawks suffered their first road loss of the season and let the 49ers pass them in the standings for now.
Enough about good teams. Who is about to be eliminated?
Last week, only the Bengals had been eliminated going into Thursday’s slate of games. But they have a lot of company down in the basement now, as they were joined by the Lions, Falcons, Giants, Dolphins, and Cardinals. The Bucs, Panthers, Jaguars, Chargers, Jets, and Washington said goodbye to the 2019 season in Week 14.
And once again, a big tip of the hat to NFL Playoff Scenarios on Reddit, for doing all of the complicated elimination math (and giving you all the ties content you desire if that’s your thing).
Washington can now angle for better draft positioning thanks to:
- Its 20-15 loss to the Packers
Tampa Bay beat the Colts, but it closes out the Jameis Winston era thanks to:
- The Vikings’ win over the Lions
Carolina can start its search for a new head coach thanks to:
- The Panthers’ 40-20 loss to the Falcons
Sam Darnold and the Jets beat the Dolphins, but can start planning their ghost tour vacation thanks to:
- Wins by the Titans and Steelers
Minshew Mania won’t be making an appearance in the postseason because the Jaguars:
- Lost to the Chargers, 45-10
The Chargers won, but Philip Rivers was once again denied the playoffs because of:
- The Steelers’ 23-17 win over the Cardinals
The Broncos had a couple ways they could go out, including:
- A loss to the Texans and a Steelers win OR
- A loss to the Texans and a Titans win
However, they beat the Texans and will stay alive for another week.
Coming into the week, five teams could be knocked out of contending in their divisions: the Rams, Steelers, Colts, Broncos, and Raiders. After Week 14, the Steelers and Colts still have a chance in their division — for now.
If the playoffs started today, which teams would be in?
Only the Saints, Ravens, and Chiefs have made it in so far, and both conferences have wild card teams with a better record than a division leader. That said, the disparity is greater in the NFC.
- San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
- Green Bay Packers (10-3)
- New Orleans Saints (10-3)**
- Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
- Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
- Minnesota Vikings (9-4)
- Baltimore Ravens (11-2)*
- New England Patriots (10-3)
- Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)**
- Houston Texans (8-5)
- Buffalo Bills (9-4)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
*clinched a playoff spot