NFL Standings 2017-18: Week 14 Records, Playoff Scenarios, Wild-Card Review

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 5, 2017

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We think we know everything about the playoff races in the NFL, but in reality, we have no idea what will transpire over the next four weeks. 

The only certainties are that the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers will be the top two seeds in the AFC, with home-field advantage being determined by their Week 15 showdown at Heinz Field. 

Over in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings are still on top of the standings, with the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints occupying the third and fourth positions. 

Once you look past the division leaders in each conference, the wild-card waters get murky. The AFC has a bunch of .500 teams fighting to stay alive, while the NFC boasts a race that could demand 10 wins to make the postseason. 

     

AFC Standings

Division Leaders 

1. Pittsburgh (10-2)

2. New England (10-2) 

3. Tennessee (8-4) 

4. Kansas City (6-6)

       

Wild-Card Race

5. Jacksonville (8-4)

6. Baltimore (7-5)

7. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

8. Buffalo (6-6)

9. Oakland (6-6)

10. New York Jets (5-7) 

11. Miami (5-7) 

12. Cincinnati (5-7)

13. Houston (4-8)

14. Indianapolis (3-9)

15. Denver (3-9)

     

Officially Eliminated

16. Cleveland (0-11) 

    

Playoff Scenarios

New England can clinch the AFC East with a win over Miami on Monday night, or if Buffalo loses to Indianapolis on Sunday. 

     

Wild-Card Outlook

The AFC wild-card race is a messy mix of teams looking to break away from the pack but who haven't just yet. The AFC South appears to be the only division in the conference guaranteed of having two teams in the postseason at the moment. 

The Tennessee Titans hold the advantage over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South since they won the first head-to-head meeting 37-16 in Week 2. The second clash between the teams in Week 17 could end up determining the division winner and who gets sent on the road in the wild-card round against the winner of the AFC West. 

Speaking of the AFC West, there's a wide-open race for the title with the Kansas City Chiefs somehow still in the lead. Andy Reid's team has left no wiggle room for itself after losing four straight and five of its last six games. 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 03:  Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs makes the catch and runs it in for a touchdown in the second half against the New York Jets on December 03, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The Ne
Elsa/Getty Images

The good news for the Chiefs is they can still control their fate if they beat the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers in the next two weeks. 

The Chargers, Raiders and Buffalo Bills are aligning themselves underneath the Baltimore Ravens to pounce if John Harbaugh and Co. drop a game, and that could be the case in Week 14 as the Ravens visit Pittsburgh. 

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 3: at M&T Bank Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

A loss by the Ravens and victories by the Bills over the Colts and Chargers against the Redskins could throw the AFC wild-card race into another ugly turn. 

However, if the Ravens knock off the Steelers and finish off the Cleveland Browns in Week 15, they should be in the driver's seat to advance to the postseason alongside the second-place team from the AFC South.

      

NFC Standings

Division Leaders

1. Minnesota (10-2)

2. Philadelphia (10-2) 

3. Los Angeles Rams (9-3)

4. New Orleans (9-3)

     

Wild-Card Race

5. Seattle (8-4)

6. Carolina (8-4) 

7. Atlanta (7-5) 

8. Detroit (6-6)

9. Green Bay (6-6)

10. Dallas (6-6)

11. Washington (5-7)

12. Arizona (5-7)

13. Tampa Bay (4-8) 

     

Officially Eliminated

14. Chicago (3-9)

15. San Francisco (2-10)

16. New York Giants (2-10) 

     

Playoff Scenarios

The Philadelphia Eagles can clinch the NFC East title with a win over the Los Angeles Rams, or with a New York Giants win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. 

Minnesota can wrap up the NFC North with a win over the Carolina Panthers or through losses by the Detroit Lions to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers to the Cleveland Browns. 

     

Wild-Card Outlook

The dream of having three NFC South teams qualify for the postseason took a hit in Week 13, with the Atlanta Falcons falling at home to the Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks knocking off the Eagles on Sunday night. 

All eyes will once again be on Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 14, as the Falcons play host to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. 

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball during the second half against the Minnesota Vikings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Panthers will have a chance to gain ground in some regard on Sunday, but they face a difficult test in the form of the visiting Vikings. 

Although they both sit at 6-6, the Lions and Packers are still alive in the conversation for the two wild-card spots, and there's a good chance one or both will stick around for Week 15. The Packers have an easier matchup in Cleveland, while the Lions have to pick up a win on the road in Tampa Bay. 

at Lambeau Field on December 3, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Green Bay defeated Tampa Bay 26-20 in overtime.
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The hopes of putting a second NFC North team into the postseason could come in Week 15, when the Packers visit the Panthers. If the Packers are able to move to 8-6 while knocking off the Panthers and letting the NFC South teams bully each other in head-to-head contests, they could have a good chance to squeak into the playoffs. 

     

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

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