NFL playoff picture: How things stand following Eagles-Seahawks

NFL playoff picture: How things stand following Eagles-Seahawks

When Week 14 of the 2023 NFL season finally drew to a close, the playoff picture was rather chaotic.

In the AFC alone, six teams boasted matching 7-6 records, crowding the field for the final two Wild Card spots. Over in the NFC, a glut of teams with identical 6-7 records left us resorting to multiple tiebreakers to see who would be in, and who would be out, if the playoffs were upon us.

Thanks to results this weekend, the picture has become the slightest bit clearer. There are still two games remaining this week — the Sunday Night Football tile between the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars, and a big NFC clash between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night — but here is how things stand at the moment.

We will update the NFL playoff picture after each of the final two games this week.

Also, before we get going you might want to familiarize yourself with the NFL’s tie-breaking procedures. We’re gonna be using them … a lot.

NFC

In right now

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)
Remaining games: Ravens, at Commanders, Rams

2. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
Remaining games: at Dolphins, Lions, at Commanders

3. Detroit Lions (10-4)
Remaining games: at Vikings, at Cowboys, Vikings

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7)
Remaining games: Jaguars, Saints, at Panthers

5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)
Remaining games: Giants, Cardinals, at Giants

6. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)
Remaining games: Lions, Packers, at Lions

7. Los Angeles Rams (7-7)
Remaining games: Saints, at Giants, at 49ers

In the hunt

8. Seattle Seahawks (7-7)
Remaining games: at Titans, Steelers, at Cardinals

9. New Orleans Saints (7-7)
Remaining games: at Rams, at Buccaneers, Falcons

10. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)
Remaining games: Colts, at Bears, at Saints

11. Green Bay Packers (6-8)
Remaining games: at Panthers, at Vikings, Bears

Monday night update: Seattle’s stunning win over the Eagles dropped Philadelphia down into the fifth spot in the conference, pushing the Cowboys back into the second spot. The Seahawks join the Rams, Vikings, and Saints as teams with a 7-7 record, but the Vikings and Rams remain in the sixth and seventh spots, respectively. Under the tiebreaker process, the two NFC West teams are paired initially, and the Seahawks are “eliminated” by the Rams due to the season sweep by Los Angeles.

Then among the Vikings, Rams, and Saints, the Vikings stay in the sixth spot due to the best conference record. Minnesota has a 6-3 record in the conference, compared to 5-4 for the Rams and 4-5 for the Saints. Then between the Rams and the Saints, the Rams have the better conference record, so they stay in the seventh spot, with Seattle having been “eliminated” again due to the Rams’ season sweep.

However, the Seahawks move ahead of the Saints, due to a better conference record. Seattle now has a 6-5 record in the NFC.

Previous updates: We can start at the top of the NFC. San Francisco inched closer to clinching the top spot with their win over the Cardinals. Dallas, due to their loss to the Bills, drops out of the top spot in the NFC East for the moment, although they could move back there if the Eagles lose Monday night to the Seahawks.

It was not all bad news for the Cowboys, as they clinched a playoff spot thanks to losses by the Packers and the Falcons. Philadelphia clinched a playoff spot as well, thanks to results in other games.

When it comes to the Wild Card spots, the Saints, Rams, and Vikings are all tied with matching 7-7 records. Minnesota has a tie-breaker advantage over both teams due to a better record in the conference. The Vikings have a 6-3 conference record, while the Rams are 5-4 and the Saints are 4-5.

That leaves the Saints and the Rams fighting for the last playoff spot, and at the moment the Rams have the advantage as they are 5-4 in the NFC, while the Saints have a 4-5 record in the conference, as outlined above.

However, these two teams play Thursday night, in a game that suddenly looms large.

NFC playoff matchups if the postseason started today

If the NFC playoffs began today, these would be the three matchups on Wild Card Weekend:

  • Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys
  • Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
  • Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The San Francisco 49ers would have the first-overall seed, and the first-round bye, in the NFC.

AFC

In right now

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-3)
Remaining games: at Jaguars, at 49ers, Dolphins, Steelers

2. Miami Dolphins (10-4)
Remaining games: Cowboys, at Ravens, Bills

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
Remaining games: Raiders, Bengals, at Chargers

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)
Remaining games: Ravens, at Buccaneers, Panthers, at Titans

5. Cleveland Browns (9-5)
Remaining games: at Texans, Jets, at Bengals

6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
Remaining games: at Steelers, at Chiefs, Browns

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
Remaining games: at Falcons, Raiders, Texans

In the hunt

8. Houston Texans (8-6)
Remaining games: Browns, Titans, at Colts

9. Buffalo Bills (8-6)
Remaining games: at Chargers, Patriots, at Dolphins

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
Remaining games: Bengals, at Seahawks, at Ravens

11. Denver Broncos (7-7)
Remaining games: Patriots, Chargers, at Raiders

Sunday night update: With their win over the Jaguars, the Ravens remain atop the AFC standings, and control their destiny for the top overall seed. Win out, and the bye week is theirs. However, Baltimore faces a trip to San Francisco next week, and the Dolphins — their main competition for the top seed — the following week.

Baltimore also clinched a playoff spot thanks to the win, along with losses by the Steelers and the Broncos.

As for the Jaguars, they are still leading the AFC South, despite having the same record as the Colts and the Texans. Jacksonville swept the Colts this season, and while the Texans and the Jaguars split their season series, Jacksonville has the better record in the division.

Sunday afternoon update: Let’s start at the top. With their win on Sunday against the Jets, the Dolphins moved to 10-4 on the year. But they are still behind the Ravens for the top spot in the conference at the moment. However, should Baltimore lose tonight, Miami would slide into the top spot, as they would have the better conference record.

Regarding the final two spots, the Bengals are tied with the Colts, the Bills, and the Texans. Under the tiebreaker rules, the two AFC South teams are pitted against each other until one is left standing. In this process the Colts “eliminate” the Texans, as Indianapolis has the better head-to-head record.

Then between the three. remaining teams, Cincinnati has wins over both Indianapolis and Buffalo, so they slide into sixth. Between Indianapolis and Buffalo, the Colts have the better conference record, so they drop into seventh, while the Bills slide out of playoff position.

Between the Texans and the Bills, Houston has the edge right now due to a better conference record. So the Texans are in eighth, and the Bills in ninth.

AFC playoff matchups if the postseason started right now

If the AFC playoffs began today, these would be the three matchups on Wild Card Weekend:

  • Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins
  • Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

The Baltimore Ravens, as outlined above, would have the first-overall seed, and the first-round bye, in the AFC.

This will be updated after both ‘Sunday Night Football’ and ‘Monday Night Football’.

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