With Week 15 of the NFL’s 100th season almost finished, the playoff picture is beginning to look a little clearer. As of Monday morning, there are 8 different teams that have clinched a spot in the playoffs and 3 teams that have clinched their division. Going into this week, the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs had already taken their spot. Now, the Patriots, Bills, Seahawks, 49ers, Saints and Packers have joined them.
Despite claims that the Patriots had it easy because the AFC East is terrible, the Buffalo Bills have been holding their own this year. Lead by one of the leagues best defenses and an often overlooked quarterback, the Bills only trail the Patriots in the standings by one game. Now on Saturday, they even have the opportunity to tie them in the standings with a win against them. Considering how inconsistent and sloppy New England’s offense, there’s a real possibility the Bills pull out the win. There may be a new face at the top of the AFC East for the first time in a long time. Of course, to no one’s surprise, the Jets and the Dolphins have been mathematically eliminated.
The Ravens officially have this division locked up. As the team with the best record in the league, it’s not exactly surprising to anyone that this happened. Despite many changes in the quarterback position this year, the Steelers find themselves in a wild card spot but they have yet to clinch it. The Browns still have the opportunity still have a small chance of making it in but it’s not looking so good for them, especially since they have just secured a losing season. The only thing they have been consistent about doing this decade. In the last spot of the division, the Bengals have been eliminated. The only thing keeping their fans going at this point is dreams of new Heisman winner Joe Burrow.
Currently, no one from this division has claimed a playoff spot. While the Texans currently lead the division, the Titans only sit one game back from them. The two teams still have one remaining game between them during the last week of the season. However, before that the Titans have to beat the Saints while the Texans have the Buccaneers. It looks like the Texans will probably have this one. Like the Titans though, the Colts also have a shot at a playoff spot but right now, it’s not very likely. Finally, despite bringing back Minshew Mania, the Jaguars have found themselves eliminated.
Besides the Ravens, the Chiefs are the only other team in the AFC that have locked up a division win. The Raiders are four games back in the standings. Though still alive technically for the playoffs, their losing conference record is holding them back. It looks like despite trying to make the playoffs for their teams last year in Oakland, the Raiders won’t be able to come through. On the bottom end of the division, the Broncos and the Chargers have been eliminated.
I’m just going to say what we’re all thinking: no one in this division deserves a play off spot. The Cowboys and the Eagles currently both sit at 7-7 with Dallas only ahead based on head to head match ups. The two teams still have one more game against each other and this division most likely won’t be called until the last regular season games are over unless Dallas beats Philly next week. The Giants and the Redskins meanwhile have both been eliminated. At least Giants fans were able to see Eli Manning get back to a .500 career record this week.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are heading back to the playoffs, having clinched a spot with a win against the Bears this weekend. The Vikings trail them by a game and is currently in the wild card but nothing has been clinched. It would probably take a miracle for them to be taken out of the playoff picture however. After a season filled with scrutiny for their quarterback and head coach, the Bears are out. So are the Lions and let’s be honest, Matt Patricia will probably be out soon too. Good thing Belichick hasn’t filled his old job yet.
The last team to have already clinched a division win is the New Orleans Saints. This seemed to be an easy task for them since they are the only one in this division with a winning record and all other teams have been eliminated. The Falcons pulled off an insane victory this weekend but it had zero impact on their season. The Buccaneers finished second in the division but there were too many better teams in the NFC this year. As for the Panthers, firing Ron Rivera basically sealed the deal for them giving up on this season.
Despite losing in a pretty dramatic fashion, the San Francisco 49ers were able to clinch a playoff spot this weekend. However, the Seattle Seahawks were able to clinch one as well. The two teams are currently tied in the standings so there’s no clear division winner yet; though the Seahawks have them beat in the head to head match up. The real difference maker will probably be their second match up of the season which happens in the last game of the regular season. As for the Rams, their season is still alive but after being blown out by the Cowboys, it’s not looking too good for them. Finally, the Cardinals have been eliminated.
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~Mary Evers (@For_Evers_Young)