James Snook - USA TODAY Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: Week 14

Mark Menard
December 04, 2018 - 1:57 pm

NFC North


1) Chicago got shocked in overtime by the NY Giants. 2) Minnesota lost to New England. 3) Green Bay lost a stunner to Arizona, leading to the firing of 13-year coach Mike McCarthy. 4) Detroit got beat by the LA Rams.


#1 Chicago (8-4), #2 Minnesota (6-5-1), #3 Green Bay (4-7-1), #4 Detroit (4-8)

With everyone in the North going down in defeat this week, there were no changes in the standings other than the Lions getting officially eliminated from the divisional race.

The Bears remain on top with Minnesota trailing by 1.5 games and Green Bay sitting 3.5 games back.


Chicago hosts the LA Rams on Sunday night. Minnesota travels to Seattle. Green Bay hosts Atlanta. Detroit travels to Arizona.


NFC West


1) Los Angeles beat Detroit. 2) Seattle pounded 4) San Francisco. 3) Arizona ran Green Bay’s coach out of town.


#1 Los Angeles - CHAMPION (11-1), #2 Seattle (7-5), #3 Arizona (3-9), #4 San Francisco (2-10)

It only took three weeks of clinching scenarios, but you can finally put the NFC West race to rest. The Los Angeles Rams clinched their second straight divisional championship this week. Of course, they have their sights set much higher but the first box of their 2018 to-do list is officially checked off.

Seattle though could still have something to say about the Rams’ higher aspirations now that they’ve gotten rolling and set their feet on firmer ground in the wild-card race. Could a third meeting be in the future for these two?


Los Angeles travels to Chicago on Sunday night. Seattle hosts Minnesota on Monday night. Arizona hosts Detroit. San Francisco hosts Denver.


NFC East


1) Dallas snapped the Saints' 10-game winning streak. 2) Philadelphia took advantage of depleted 3) Washington. 4) New York bested the Bears in overtime.


#1 Dallas (7-5), #2) Philadelphia (6-6), #3 Washington (6-6), #4 New York (4-8)

Washington's slide continued this week with another costly injury. The former division leader lost a second quarterback to a broken leg this season, ending Colt McCoy's 2018 campaign. They'll push forward with Mark Sanchez under center, but now having lost three straight, they seem to be slipping right out of the playoff race.

That could very well leave the Cowboys and Eagles to battle it out for the crown. The Cowboys maintain a slim lead in the East race at the moment.

Both Philly and Washington trail them by just 1 game. Philly gets the tiebreaker for #2 after beating Washington this past Monday night. The two will square off again in the season finale. New York remains 3 games back with four to play.


Dallas hosts Philadelphia in a game that could ultimately decide the division title. Washington also hosts New York in divisional action.


NFC South


1) New Orleans had their 10-game winning streak snapped in Dallas. 3) Tampa Bay pulled off the upset over 2) Carolina. 4) Atlanta lost to Baltimore.


#1 New Orleans (10-2), #2 Carolina (7-5), #3 Tampa Bay (5-7), #4 Atlanta (4-8)

New Orleans could have salted away the division this week but couldn’t solve the Dallas defense on Thursday night. Carolina failed to capitalize on the first Saints loss since Week 1 though, as they got bitten by the Bucs in Tampa. That means we’re right back where we were last week with one key exception. The Saints no longer need a Panthers loss to clinch the division. All they need to do is win.

Carolina remains 4 games back with four games to play (though two of those will be against the Saints, the biggest factor keeping them in play for the division title.)


New Orleans travels to Tampa Bay for divisional play. Carolina travels to Cleveland. Atlanta travels to Green Bay.


NEW ORLEANS can clinch their second straight South title with a win OR a Carolina loss.




#1 Los Angeles (11-1), #2 New Orleans (10-2), #3 Chicago (8-4), #4 Dallas (7-5)

With the Saints' 10-game winning streak finally ending in Dallas, the Rams retake the pole position in the NFC, but they can't rest yet. With a pair of tough games looming against the Bears and Eagles, L.A. needs to stay focused because New Orleans will continue to hold that head-to-head tiebreaker through the end of the season.

As it stands, New Orleans trails the Rams by 1 game with Chicago 3 games back and Dallas 4 games back.


LOS ANGELES can clinch a first-round bye with a win in Chicago Sunday night.




#1 Seattle (7-5), #2 Minnesota (6-5-1), #3 Carolina (6-6), #4 Philadelphia (6-6), #5 Washington (6-6)

The Seahawks have been relegated to the wild-card chase for weeks because of the Rams' runaway lead in the West, and this week L.A. made it official, locking down the division title. But Seattle has not just kept themselves relevant since losing for the second time this season to the Rams... they've flourished. They've won three straight and elevated themselves from a playoff afterthought to the head of the wild-card pack in the NFC. They could really open up some separation this Sunday night when they do battle with the team right below them in the wild-card chase, the Minnesota Vikings, who sit just a half-game back of the 'Hawks.

Behind the top two sit a trio of .500 teams. Philly's head-to-head win over Washington gives them the tiebreaker in the division and ensures that Washington will be stuck behind them, but the Eagles also have a head-to-head defeat on their resume at the hands of Carolina. That allows the Panthers to rise to the top of the 6-6 bunch.



#6 Tampa Bay (5-7), #7 Green Bay (4-7-1), #8 Atlanta (4-8), #9 Detroit (4-8)

#10 New York (4-8), #11 Arizona (3-9), #12 San Francisco (2-10)

The Bucs have kept themselves on the fringes of postseason hope with a pair of consecutive wins, but now they have to complete a season sweep of the Saints to keep that faint light flickering. As for the three 4-8 teams, conference record separates them: Atlanta at 3-4; Detroit at 3-7; New York at 2-7. And the first NFC team to double-digit losses finds itself locked out of the postseason completely for 2018. Maybe next year, Niners.


AFC North


1) Pittsburgh lost their second straight, blowing a big lead against the LA Chargers. 2) Baltimore has won three straight after beating Atlanta. 3) Cincinnati lost to Denver. 4) Cleveland fell in Houston.


#1 Pittsburgh (7-4-1), #2 Baltimore (7-5), #3 Cincinnati (5-7), #4 Cleveland (4-7-1)

The Lamar Jackson era has been fruitful for the Ravens. They’ve won three straight since he took over for injured quarterback Joe Flacco and have made up nearly all the ground between them and the Steelers in the race for the North crown. Of course, they’ve been helped by Pittsburgh getting stunned by the Broncos and Chargers the last two weeks. The only positive is really that Baltimore is the only division rival that has really capitalized on the Steelers’ misfortunes.

Currently, Baltimore trails Pittsburgh by just a half-game. Cincinnati sits 2.5 games back with Cleveland a full 3 games back.


Pittsburgh travels to Oakland. Baltimore travels to Kansas City. Cincinnati travels to the LA Chargers. Cleveland hosts Carolina.


AFC West


1) Kansas City slipped past 4) Oakland by a touchdown. 2) Los Angeles charged back to shock Pittsburgh. 3) Denver won their third straight in Cincinnati.


#1 Kansas City (10-2), #2 Los Angeles (9-3), #3 Denver (6-6), #4 Oakland (2-10)

Kansas City continues to hold their lead atop the West, but signs of trouble could be seeping in. The Chiefs defense continues to hemorrhage points, allowing 33 points against the last-place Raiders, and the release of star rusher Kareem Hunt was warranted but won’t do their offense any favors. With the Chargers still hot on their heels and Denver suddenly surging back to relevancy on the legs of Phillip Lindsay, the race to the top of the West could get very interesting during the season’s final month.

Currently, the Chargers remain 1 game out of first. Denver joins Oakland as eliminated from the divisional race.


Kansas City hosts Baltimore. Los Angeles hosts Cincinnati. Denver travels to San Francisco. Oakland hosts Pittsburgh.


AFC East


1) New England beat Minnesota. 2) Miami bounced 3) Buffalo out of the divisional race. 4) New York fell to Tennessee.


#1 New England (9-3), #2 Miami (6-6), #3 Buffalo (4-8), #4) New York (3-9)

The 2018 AFC East championship game will be played in Miami this Sunday… in Week 14 of the season. That’s because the East is now officially a two-team race thanks to the Bills’ loss last weekend putting them five games out of first with four to play. They join the Jets on the outside looking in. The Fins got a win to stay within striking distance just barely, but could find themselves put out as well this Sunday as they host the first-place Patriots. New England already holds one win over Miami from way back in Week 4. If they pull off the sweep this Sunday, they will lock down their 16th East title since 2001.

Currently, only Miami at 3 games back poses any threat to the Pats.


It’s all divisional action this week as Miami hosts New England and Buffalo hosts New York.


NEW ENGLAND can clinch their 10th straight divisional title with a win in Miami.


AFC South


1) Houston won their 9th straight, beating Cleveland. 3) Tennessee grounded the NY Jets. 4) Jacksonville ended their seven-game losing streak by ending 2) Indianapolis’s five-game winning streak.


#1 Houston (9-3), #2 Indianapolis (6-6), #3 Tennessee (6-6), #4 Jacksonville (4-8)

Houston continues to tread in uncharted territory. The Texans have now won nine in a row after starting 0-3, and they got some important separation this week with the Colts getting shut out by the Jags. The Texans would take another major step towards the South crown if they complete the season sweep of Indy this Sunday.

Currently, they hold a 3-game lead over both Indianapolis and Tennessee, with Jacksonville eliminated from the divisional race. The Colts get the edge for second due to the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Titans in Week 11. They’ll play the rematch in the season finale.


Like the East, it’s all divisional play this week in the South as Houston hosts Indianapolis while Tennessee hosts Jacksonville on Thursday night.


HOUSTON can clinch the AFC South title with a win AND a Tennessee loss.




#1 Kansas City (10-2), #2 New England (9-3), #3 Houston (9-3), #4 Pittsburgh (7-4-1)

The race for not just the top seed in the AFC but also a first-round bye will be tight down the stretch of the regular season. Just one game separates the current top-seed from having to take the field during the playoffs’ opening weekend. The loss of running back Kareem Hunt for off-the-field reasons could end up sinking the Chiefs, who have led the conference nearly the entire season. KC’s defense has been necessitating offensive explosions week-in and week-out for the Chiefs to keep winning. That works against bad teams like the Raiders, but it could prove problematic against, say, the Patriots, Texans, or even some of the lesser playoff contenders in the AFC.

The good news for Kansas City though is that they still sit at the top for now.

New England and Houston both sit just 1 game back of the Chiefs. The Patriots get the nod for the #2 seed and the first-round bye that goes with it thanks to a Week 1 head-to-head win over the Texans. Pittsburgh’s two straight losses have dropped them from the doorstep of the #1 seed to #4, and a 2.5 game deficit behind KC.

KANSAS CITY can clinch a playoff spot with a win.




#1 Los Angeles (9-3), #2 Baltimore (7-5), #3 Miami (6-6)

#4 Indianapolis (6-6), #5 Denver (6-6), #6 Tennessee (6-6)

While the Chargers still trail Kansas City in their division, they maintained their 2-game lead over every other wild-card contender, and they’ve emerged as the AFC’s dark-horse Super Bowl contender.

As for everyone else, the Ravens have opened up a full 1-game lead over the rest of the pack for the final wild-card spot in the AFC after winning the first three games of the Lamar Jackson era. However, they could bump up to the division-leader category if Pittsburgh continues to slip.

Four teams sit tied below Baltimore at 6-6. While divisional tiebreakers ensure the Colts will sit ahead of the Titans, it really just essentially comes down to conference records: Miami – 5-4; Indianapolis – 5-5; Denver – 4-5; Tennessee – 4-6.



#7 Cincinnati (5-7), #8 Cleveland (4-7-1), #9 Buffalo (4-8)

#10 Jacksonville (4-8), #11 New York (3-9), #12 Oakland (2-10)

Of the teams below .500 in the AFC, only one tiebreaker comes into play: Buffalo’s Week 12 win over Jacksonville puts them ahead of the Jags in the standings. And the Raiders become the first team in the AFC to be completely eliminated from the chase for more football.

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