With two weeks remaining in the NFL season, the Redskins and Vikings are in surprisingly good shape in the NFC playoff race, while losses suffered by the Bears and Giants on Sunday raised big questions about whether they can still limp into the playoffs.
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 (12-2): Atlanta only needs to win one more game to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
2. 49ers (10-3-1): San Francisco put a beating on New England and stayed ahead of Green Bay for the first-round playoff bye.
3. Packers (10-4): Green Bay clinched the NFC North with Sunday’s win at Chicago.
4. Redskins (8-6): Washington is one of the hottest teams in the NFL and is now has the tiebreaker edge in the three-way NFC East battle.
5. Seahawks (9-5): Two straight blowout wins have the Seahawks looking like perhaps the most dangerous team in the NFL.
6. Vikings (8-6): If the playoffs started today, the Vikings would be in. But the Vikings’ final two games are against the Texans and Packers, which means Minnesota still has an uphill battle to reach the postseason.
In the mix: The 8-6 Cowboys and 8-6 Giants are both on the outside looking in right now, but they both control their playoff destiny: Win their final two games, and they’re both in. The 8-6 Bears do not control their playoff destiny, but the good news for Chicago is that the Bears have the easiest remaining schedule of any of the playoff contenders, with the Cardinals and Lions in the final two weeks. So don’t count the Bears out.
1. Texans (12-2): The Texans have clinched the NFC South and are close to clinching home-field advantage. The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC is going through Houston.
2. Broncos (11-3): Denver moved a game ahead of New England and now needs two more wins to earn a first-round playoff bye.
3. Patriots (10-4): Sunday night’s loss to the 49ers moves the Patriots below the Broncos in the AFC.
4. Ravens (9-5): Baltimore has clinched a playoff berth, but the Ravens aren’t playing like a playoff team. If they don’t turn things around in a hurry, the Ravens will be one-and-done.
5. Colts (9-5): Indianapolis hasn’t actually clinched, but there are very few scenarios left under which the Colts don’t get to the playoffs.
6. Bengals (8-6): Cincinnati is now the leader of the pack for the final AFC playoff berth, but the Bengals must win at Pittsburgh next week if they want to stay head of the pack.
In the mix: The 7-7 Steelers still control their playoff destiny: Beat the Bengals and Browns the next two weeks, and they’re in. And the 6-7 Jets aren’t out of it; if they win out and Sunday’s Bengals-Steelers winner loses in Week 17, the Jets would go to the playoffs.