There are three weeks left in the NFL season. That means we’re starting to know what the postseason is going to look like. Here is what we do know so far:
- The final two weeks of the regular season could be meaningless for the Green Bay Packers unless they are going for the undefeated season. With their win over Oakland and San Francisco’s loss, Green Bay is now one win away from locking up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
- The Houston Texans are in the playoffs for the first time ever. They are 10-3, and they clinched the AFC South yesterday.
- The San Francisco 49ers have already clinched the NFC West, but they are still battling the New Orleans Saints for the No. 2 seed and a first round bye in the NFC. New Orleans can mathematically tie with Green Bay for the NFC lead, but the Saints cannot get the No. 1 seed based on their head-to-head loss to the Packers.
- The Saints have clinched a playoff spot, and they lead the NFC South by two games.
Everything else is relatively up for grabs. The AFC is especially wild, with four teams at the top with identical 10-3 records. The Texans, Patriots and Ravens are division leaders, but the Steelers are the odd team out at 10-3. They could finish with the second best record in the AFC, but not play a home game because their two losses to Baltimore mean they do not have the tiebreaker in their own division.
Those four teams appear to be safe as far as making the playoffs is concerned, but the only team to officially clinch a spot so far is Houston. The other two spots are in flux. Denver took control of the AFC West with yet another come from behind fourth quarter win. The New York Jets currently hold the second wild card spot in the AFC, but Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Oakland are a game back.
In the NFC, the biggest beneficiary this past week was Detroit. The Lions broke their losing streak, and they were helped greatly by the Bears losing to Denver. Atlanta and Detroit now hold the two wild card spots in the NFC, with Chicago and Dallas a game behind them and not playing well. One of the most surprising teams is Arizona, who has won 5 of 6 and is now within two games of the wild card.
The biggest week 15 games are as follows:
Detroit at Oakland – The loser is likely out of the playoff picture.
Pittsburgh at San Francisco – The winner gets the inside track to a first round bye, and Monday Night Football finally gets a good game.