NFL Playoff Picture Week 14: Latest AFC, NFC Standings and Bracket Scenarios

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2022

NFL Playoff Picture Week 14: Latest AFC, NFC Standings and Bracket Scenarios

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    Bills QB Josh Allen and Jets DE Bryce Huff
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    This Sunday, the Buffalo Bills will host the New York Jets in a game that many fans probably didn't have circled when the schedule was first released.

    However, the Bills-Jets tilt has serious playoff implications—and not just for top-seeded Buffalo.

    The Jets have been one of the NFL's biggest surprises this season, and though they've endured inconsistency at quarterback, they'd be in the playoffs if the season ended today. The same is true for the New York Giants, arguably the biggest surprise over in the NFC.

    The playoff race is heating up in the NFL, and we're here to examine the postseason picture with five weeks to go. We'll dive into standings, AFC and NFC snapshots and how the playoffs would look if they started right now.

NFL Standings

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    Eagles QB Jalen Hurts
    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    AFC East

    1. Buffalo Bills 9-3

    2. Miami Dolphins 8-4

    3. New York Jets 7-5

    4. New England Patriots 6-6

    AFC South

    1. Tennessee Titans 7-5

    2. Indianapolis Colts 4-8-1

    3. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-8

    4. Houston Texans 1-10-1

    AFC North

    1. Baltimore Ravens 8-4

    2. Cincinnati Bengals 8-4

    3. Cleveland Browns 5-7

    4. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-7

    AFC West

    1. Kansas City Chiefs 9-3

    2. Los Angeles Chargers 6-6

    3. Las Vegas Raiders 5-7

    4. Denver Broncos 3-9

    NFC East

    1. Philadelphia Eagles 11-1

    2. Dallas Cowboys 9-3

    3. New York Giants 7-4-1

    4. Washington Commanders 7-5-1

    NFC South

    1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-6

    2. Atlanta Falcons 5-8

    3. Carolina Panthers 4-8

    4. New Orleans Saints 4-9

    NFC North

    1. Minnesota Vikings 10-2

    2. Detroit Lions 5-7

    3. Green Bay Packers 5-8

    4. Chicago Bears 3-10

    NFC West

    1. San Francisco 49ers 8-4

    2. Seattle Seahawks 7-5

    3. Arizona Cardinals 4-8

    4. Los Angeles Rams 3-9

AFC Playoff Picture

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    Bengals QB Joe Burrow
    Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Bye: 1. Buffalo Bills (9-3)

    No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) vs. No. 7 New York Jets (7-5)

    No. 3 Baltimore Ravens (8-4) vs. No. 6 Miami Dolphins (8-4)

    No. 4 Tennessee Titans (7-5) vs. No. 5 Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)

    Things got very interesting in the AFC over last weekend. The Cincinnati Bengals knocked off the Kansas City Chiefs for the third time in a calendar year, which handed the No. 1 seed to Buffalo.

    The Bills and Chiefs share a 9-3 record, but Buffalo won the head-to-head matchup.

    It would be unwise to count out Joe Burrow and the Bengals in the race for No. 1, though. The Bengals have found their groove and have won four straight and six of their last seven.

    Yet Cincinnati trails the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. With Lamar Jackson injured (knee), Cincinnati may grab the top divisional spot this week.

    If the Pittsburgh Steelers knock off Baltimore and Cincinnati gets past the Cleveland Browns—a team Burrow has never beaten—the Bengals will lead the AFC North.

    The Tennessee Titans have a commanding lead over the 4-8-1 Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South, though Tennessee has lost two straight. That division will remain unsettled for at least another week.

    The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West with a win and a loss by the Los Angeles Chargers.

    What's perhaps most interesting about the AFC is that all four teams in the East have chances to make the postseason. The Bills, Jets and Miami Dolphins would be in if the seasons ended today. The 6-6 New England Patriots aren't far behind, though.

    With five weeks to go, several scenarios are still on the proverbial table here.

NFC Playoff Picture

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    Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Bye: Philadelphia Eagles (11-1)

    No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (10-2) vs. No. 7 Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

    No. 3 San Francisco 49ers (8-4) vs. No. 6 New York Giants (7-4-1)

    No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) vs. No. 5 Dallas Cowboys (9-3)

    The Philadelphia Eagles appear to be the clear-cut best team in football, but they may not clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference until the last week of the season—if they do at all.

    This is because the Minnesota Vikings are hanging just a game behind Philadelphia, though the Eagles do hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. With the Dallas Cowboys sitting in the NFC East at 9-3, though, Minnesota is closer to clinching its division than the Eagles are.

    With a win or a tie against the Detroit Lions in Week 14, the Vikings will clinch the NFC North. Detroit won't just be looking to play spoiler, though. The Lions have won four of their last five and still have a legitimate shot at sneaking into the postseason—though they'll likely need to win out and get help.

    "We're in a six-game season to this point. We're 1-0," Lions coach Dan Campbell said, per's Mike O'Hara. "I'm going to leave it at that."

    The Eagles, meanwhile, can clinch a playoff berth with a win, a tie or losses by the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

    San Francisco and Seattle are battling for the lead in the NFC West. San Francisco holds a lead there, but it has also lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season to a foot injury.

    The 49ers will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, and Tamps would love nothing more than to steal a win. While the Bucs are just 6-6, they have a 1.5-game lead in the NFC South over the Atlanta Falcons, who are on bye.