Everyone in the NFC East won on Sunday, which means the race for the division race didn’t change. And that’s good news for the Giants.
On the strength of their win over the Saints, the Giants improved to 8-5 and stayed a game ahead of the Redskins and Cowboys, who both won to improve to 7-6. With only three weeks left, the Redskins and Cowboys are running out of time to catch the Giants. But if they keep winning, the Redskins and Cowboys will at least be in the playoff mix when they meet each other in Week 17.
In the AFC, the Ravens tried and failed to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight week: Baltimore is on a two-game losing streak, but the Ravens remain the favorites to win the AFC North, thanks to the Steelers and Bengals both losing on Sunday as well.
Below we provide the state of the playoff race, with the six playoff teams that would be in the postseason in each conference if the playoffs started today.
1. Falcons (11-2): Despite losing at Carolina on Sunday, the Falcons remain the favorites to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
2. 49ers (9-3-1): San Francisco probably won’t catch Atlanta, but the 49ers remain poised to earn a first-round playoff bye.
3. Packers (9-4): Beating the Lions while the Bears lost to the Vikings put the Packers in command of the NFC North.
4. Giants (8-5): New York stays ahead in the NFC East race.
5. Seahawks (8-5): Sunday’s blowout win over the Cardinals makes Seattle look like a safe bet to earn one of the NFC’s two wild card berths.
6. Bears (8-5): Chicago is in free fall, having lost four of five. It doesn’t get any easier next week, when the Packers come to town.
In the mix: The 7-6 Redskins, 7-6 Cowboys and 7-6 Vikings all have a shot, while the 6-6-1 Rams are staying alive but probably have too much ground to make up and not enough time to do it.
1. Texans (11-1): Even if they lose to the Patriots on Monday night, the Texans will have the inside track for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
2. Broncos (10-3): At the moment, the Broncos are half a game ahead of the Patriots in the race for a first-round playoff bye.
3. Patriots (9-3): If they beat the Texans, the Patriots will move ahead of the Broncos on the strength of New England’s head-to-head tiebreaker edge over Denver.
4. Ravens (9-4): Baltimore’s two-game losing streak has dimmed its hopes of earning home-field advantage in the playoffs.
5. Colts (9-4): Indianapolis hasn’t actually clinched, but there are very few scenarios left under which the Colts don’t get to the playoffs.
6. Steelers (7-6): Pittsburgh still gets in based on the head-to-head tiebreaker edge over Cincinnati.
In the mix: The 7-6 Bengals’ playoff hopes took a hit with a loss to Dallas, but if they beat the Steelers in Week 16, the Bengals will probably get to the playoffs. The 6-7 Jets are, amazingly, still in the playoff hunt, but they’re a long shot.