NFL Playoff Picture 2021-22 Week 15: Updated Standings, Matchups to Watch

Doric SamDecember 14, 2021

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 12: Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill (22) celebrate a fumble recovery with teammates late in the fourth quarter of an NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs on Dec 12, 2021 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs forced 5 turnovers for the game. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals could have been the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season but fell short against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday. With the loss, Arizona gives up the top seed in the NFC to the Green Bay Packers and falls to third behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the AFC, the New England Patriots remained on top during their bye week. The Kansas City Chiefs moved up to the third seed as the Baltimore Ravens' free fall continues. The Buffalo Bills are also tumbling after a loss to Tampa Bay, which breathed new life into the Indianapolis Colts while they were on their bye.

Here's a look at how things stand heading into Week 15.

AFC Playoff Picture

1. New England Patriots (9-4)

2. Tennessee Titans (9-4)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)

6. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

7. Buffalo Bills (7-6)

8. Cleveland Browns (7-6)

9. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

10. Denver Broncos (7-6)

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)

12. Las Vegas Raiders (6-7)

13. Miami Dolphins (6-7)

14. New York Jets (3-10) - eliminated from playoff contention

15. Houston Texans (2-11) - eliminated from playoff contention

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) - eliminated from playoff contention

Projected 1st-Round Matchups

No. 2 Tennessee Titans vs. No. 7 Buffalo Bills

No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs vs. No. 6 Indianapolis Colts

No. 4 Baltimore Ravens vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers

NFC Playoff Picture

1. Green Bay Packers (10-3)

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

3. Arizona Cardinals (10-3)

4. Dallas Cowboys (9-4)

5. Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

6. San Francisco 49ers (7-6)

7. Washington Football Team (6-7)

8. Minnesota Vikings (6-7)

9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

10. Atlanta Falcons (6-7)

11. New Orleans Saints (6-7)

12. Carolina Panthers (5-8)

13. Seattle Seahawks (5-8)

14. New York Giants (4-9)

15. Chicago Bears (4-9)

16. Detroit Lions (1-11-1) - eliminated from playoff contention

Projected 1st-Round Matchups

No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. No. 7 Washington Football Team

No. 3 Arizona Cardinals vs. No. 6 San Francisco 49ers

No. 4 Dallas Cowboys vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Rams

Parity is the buzz word in the NFL this season, and that hasn't changed heading into Week 15. Twenty-six out of 32 teams are still mathematically alive to chase a playoff spot, and 17 teams have a record of .500 or better.

The Chiefs open the week on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football. A win for the Chargers would give them a sweep of the regular-season series against their AFC West rival. The Chiefs will be going for their seventh straight victory, and a win would provide a two-game separation in the race for the division.

The Colts have an opportunity to shake up the standings as they will host the Patriots on Saturday night. Indianapolis can move up to fifth in the AFC with a win and a Chargers loss.

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the week is an interconference game between the Packers and Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore is clinging to its lead in the AFC North and desperately needs a win after losing in back-to-back weeks.

It won't be easy for the Ravens against a Packers team that is averaging 37.3 points in its last three games. Green Bay would also clinch its third consecutive NFC North title with a win.

The Packers won't be the only NFC team seeking a division title. The Buccaneers will be going for their first NFC South crown since 2007 on Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints.

The Cincinnati Bengals will face the Denver Broncos in a game between two teams still hoping to make a playoff push in the AFC. The Cleveland Browns are hoping for the same as they take on the Las Vegas Raiders, whose playoff chances are slim after their blowout loss to the Chiefs.