NFL Playoff Picture: Updating Latest NFC and AFC Brackets

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIDecember 12, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after running the ball for a first down against the Houston Texans in the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Week 15 games will have a massive impact on the NFL playoff picture. A few teams’ slim hopes will disappear this weekend, while others will seal a postseason berth. 

With several exciting matchups between teams who will likely be playing in January, football fans would be wise not to make any plans this Sunday.

Fights for a wild card spot will intensify while the league’s top teams will continue battling for home-field advantage.

Here is the playoff picture in each conference along with the games that will have the most impact on the standings. 



Current Standings

1Atlanta Falcons11-2
2San Francisco 49ers9-3-1
3Green Bay Packers9-4
4New York Giants8-5
5Seattle Seahawks8-5
6Chicago Bears8-5


Still in the Hunt

7Washington Redskins7-6
8Dallas Cowboys7-6
9Minnesota Vikings7-6
10St. Louis Rams6-6-1
11Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-7
12New Orleans Saints5-8


NFC Games to Watch This Week

New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons

A victory over the Giants at home would be an incredible boost to the Falcons after a disappointing loss last week. Improving to 12-2 on the year would put Atlanta in position to secure a first-round bye if either San Francisco or Green Bay loses. 

If both teams are unable to win, then the Falcons—who are the only NFC team to have already clinched a playoff spot—will be the No. 1 seed this year. The Falcons' chances to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs are significantly boosted by the difficult matchups both the 49ers and Packers have set for Sunday. 


San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots 

The 49ers have to travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots this week. Pulling out a victory against the surging Pats will be difficult, but it will come with valuable rewards. 

A win would guarantee San Francisco a spot in the playoffs, and it would also give the team its second consecutive NFC West crown in the unlikely event of a Seahawks loss to the Buffalo Bills. 


Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

The latest edition of Green Bay's historic rivalry with Chicago will come with raised stakes. The struggling Bears must avoid a season sweep against the Packers if they hope to stay alive in the division race. 

A road victory for Green Bay will give it another NFC North title, and it will push Chicago into dire straits. 



Current Standings

1Houston Texans11-2
2New England Patriots10-3
3Denver Broncos10-3
4Baltimore Ravens9-4
5Indianapolis Colts9-4
6Pittsburgh Steelers7-6


Still in the Hunt

7Cincinnati Bengals7-6
8New York Jets6-7
9Cleveland Browns5-8
10San Diego Chargers5-8
11Buffalo Bills5-8
12Miami Dolphins5-8


AFC Games to Watch This Week

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

The Texans are already in the playoffs, but the team certainly has concerns after being blown out by the Patriots. Still, a victory over the Colts will help put the team back on the right track. 

By beating the Colts, Houston would win the AFC South and put itself in position to secure a first-round bye. A win, in addition to a Denver loss to Baltimore and a New England loss to San Francisco, would give the Texans an extra week of rest. 

But Indianapolis will be difficult to beat in this matchup. Andrew Luck and the surprising Colts will be playing at home and a win will send them to the playoffs. 


Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens

This game has more playoff importance for the Ravens. Despite losing the last two games, Baltimore will win the AFC North with a victory over Denver. 

The Broncos have already clinched a weak AFC West and are only fighting to improve their seed at this point in the season.