Week 14 of the NFL season reshuffled the pack yet again as far as the race for the playoffs is concerned. The Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs clinched a postseason berth with road wins over Buffalo and New England, while the San Francisco 49ers regained control of the NFC with a dramatic road win over New Orleans.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Rams ended Seattle’s five-game winning run, keeping their faint playoff hopes alive, while the Green Bay Packers moved up to second in the NFC.
Here’s what the playoff bracket looks like with three weeks of the regular season left.
Baltimore Ravens (11-2)
The Ravens made it nine wins in a row and clinched a playoff spot with a 24-17 in Buffalo over the Bills. Better still, the New England Patriots‘ defeat at home to Kansas City left Baltimore on the verge of securing top spot in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Courtesy of the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Ravens effectively lead the Patriots by two games with just three weeks left.
New England Patriots (10-3)
The Patriots’ 23-16 loss to the Chiefs was their first at home since October 2017 and significantly complicated their chances to finish top of the AFC.
At the same time, New England has a relatively easy schedule between now and the end of the season—on the road against to Cincinnati next week, then at home to Buffalo and Miami in the final two games of the regular season.
A win over Cincinnati will be enough to clinch a postseason berth.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)
Coupled with Oakland’s 42-21 defeat at home against Tennessee, the Chiefs’ win in Foxborough, Massachusetts, over the Patriots helped them secure the AFC West for the fourth consecutive season.
Aside from clinching a playoff spot, Kansas City overtook Houston in third place in the AFC following the Texans’ shock loss at home to Denver and closed the gap from the Patriots to one game.
FiveThirtyEight’s statistical projections give the Chiefs a 22 percent chance of a first-round bye, but they could pounce if the Patriots lose another game.
Houston Texans (8-5)
One week on from defeating New England, Houston came back down to earth after a thumping 38-24 home loss against the Broncos. Coupled with Tennessee’s road win against Oakland, the result left the Texans with a slender lead over the Titans in the AFC South.
Both teams are 8-5 and they meet in Tennessee in Week 15 and in Houston in Week 17, with both games likely to determine the winner of the division.
Buffalo Bills (9-4)
The Bills missed the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot as they lost to the Ravens at home in Week 14, but retain a 95 percent chance of making the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Buffalo’s schedule, however, doesn’t ease up over the next two weeks, with trips to Pittsburgh and New England coming up. A win against the Jets in Week 17, however, should just about be enough for the Bills.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
One of the in-form teams in the NFL, Pittsburgh made it seven wins in eight games with a 23-17 road win over Arizona, but remains locked into a race for the second wildcard spot with Tennessee.
The Steelers have a 62 percent chance of making the postseason to the Titans’ 64, but Pittsburgh can overtake Buffalo in the race for the first wildcard spot with a win on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
The 49ers’ incredible 48-46 win over the Saints in New Orleans vaulted them back into top spot in the NFC, despite the fact San Francisco is yet to clinch a playoff spot. The 49ers can do so if they win against Atlanta in Week 15 and two more wins after that would secure the number one seed in the NFC and home advantage throughout the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers (10-3)
The Packers were the big winner of Week 14, as they climbed up to second after the 49ers beat the Saints and the Seahawks lost to the Rams in Los Angeles. The Packers are yet to clinch a playoff spot and have looked far from impressive, but have a 70 percent chance of winning the NFC North and a 33 percent shot at securing a first-round bye.
New Orleans Saints (10-3)
The Saints remain the only NFC team to have secured a playoff spot but their loss to the 49ers saw them slip down to the third in the rankings.
All the same, FiveThirtyEight gives New Orleans a 61 percent chance of earning a first-round bye, the second-highest in the NFC after San Francisco.
The Saints should rebound in Week 15, when they host an Indianapolis Colts team that has lost five of its last six games.
Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
The trip to Philadelphia in Week 16 will in all likelihood decide which of the two makes the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
One week after taking control of the NFC West, the Seahawks relinquished it with a 28-12 loss in Los Angeles against the Rams, which saw them slip to fifth in the NFC standings.
Seattle faces an out of sorts Panthers team in Carolina next week and retains control of its destiny, as it could leapfrog the 49ers with a win over San Francisco at home in Week 17.
Minnesota Vikings (9-4)
Minnesota strengthens its gap on the wildcard spot with a comfortable win over the Lions and FiveThirtyEight gives them a 73 percent chance to make the postseason.
Their chances of winning the division, however, are a slim 29 percent and the Vikings would need to win the remaining three games and the Packers to lose one of their remaining two games against Chicago or Detroit—Green Bay travels to Minneapolis in Week 16.
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