NFL Playoff Picture Week 15: AFC, NFC 2017 Postseason Scenarios and Predictions

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 10:   Yannick Ngakoue #91 of the Jacksonville Jaguars waits on the field during the second half of their game against the Seattle Seahawks at EverBank Field on December 10, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

In Week 14, losses mathematically eliminated a few teams and victories helped others clinch playoff spots. We're nearing a cemented 2017 postseason picture.

Most notably, the Jacksonville Jaguars added a signature win to their 2017 resume. How does head coach Doug Marrone's group stack up with the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South title down the stretch?

The Oakland Raiders took a backseat to the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers who will play each other for the AFC West division lead on Saturday. Did head coach Andy Reid right the ship, or will the Chargers even the season series at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 15?

After five years in the postseason, is it possible the Seattle Seahawks watch instead of play football in January? There's a team slowly creeping up the standings who may welcome back their signal-caller for another improbable late-season run.

Check out the current playoff scenarios before Week 15 action and a few postseason picture predictions.


Current AFC Playoff Scenarios

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2, 1st-Round Bye)

2. New England Patriots (10-3, 1st-Round Bye)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4, vs. Buffalo Bills) 

4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6 vs. Tennessee Titan) 

5. Tennessee Titans (8-5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs) 

6. Buffalo Bills (7-6 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) 

7. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) 

8. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6)

9. Oakland Raiders (6-7)

10. Miami Dolphins (6-7)

11. New York Jets (5-8) 

12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)

13. Houston Texans (4-9)

14. Denver Broncos (4-9) 

15. Indianapolis Colts (3-10) 

16. Cleveland Browns (0-13)


Current NFC Playoff Scenarios

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-2, 1st-Round Bye)

2. Minnesota Vikings (10-3, 1st-Round Bye) 

3. Los Angeles Rams (9-4, vs. Atlanta Falcons) 

4. New Orleans Saints (9-4, vs. Carolina Panthers)

5. Carolina Panthers (9-4, vs. New Orleans Saints) 

6. Atlanta Falcons (8-5, vs. Los Angeles Rams)

7. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) 

8. Detroit Lions (7-6) 

9. Green Bay Packers (7-6) 

10. Dallas Cowboys (7-6) 

11. Arizona Cardinals (6-7) 

12. Washington Redskins (5-8) 

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) 

14. Chicago Bears (4-9) 

15. San Francisco 49ers (3-10)

16. New York Giants (2-11) 


Postseason Picture Predictions

Jacksonville Jaguars Win AFC South Division

Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

The Jaguars sent a message loud and clear during their 30-24 victory over the Seahawks. Through their performance, the players told competitors this team won't fall below expectations as they have done in previous years. 

Through 37 minutes, the Jaguars kept the Seahawks out of the end zone. Once Seattle found a breakthrough, Jacksonville answered through the air and on the ground. 

Quarterback Blake Bortles fits as the missing piece to the offensive puzzle. Typically, he's viewed as a liability that holds the unit back. He didn't shy away from throwing darts against the Seahawks defense—the same unit that slowed down Carson Wentz in Week 13. Of course, running back Leonard Fournette closed the game with a first-down run.

Nonetheless, with Bortles throwing multiple touchdown passes in his previous two games, the Jaguars have some offensive balance. Jacksonville also looks more impressive than the Titans. 

Expect the Jaguars to claim their first division title since winning the defunct AFC Central in 1999.


Los Angeles Chargers Win AFC West Division

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 10:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers throws a pass during warmups for the game against the Washington Redskins on December 10, 2017 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Imag
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

After watching the Raiders squander an opportunity to sweep their season series with the Chiefs, the Chargers stand out as the most impressive team in the AFC West.

The Chiefs have steadied the ship on offense with coordinator Matt Nagy taking on play-calling duties, but it's an uneasy bet to rely on the defense. The Chargers offense accumulated 420-plus yards in the fourth consecutive game during a win over the Washington Redskins.

The Chiefs and Chargers will square off on Saturday for the division lead at Arrowhead Stadium. Cornerback Marcus Peters didn't suit up for the contest against the Raiders due to Reid's decision. Nonetheless, he should be active in a critical matchup with playoff implications.

However, Peters' return isn't enough to slow down the Chargers aerial attack that's clicking with several players contributing to the unit's recent output. After beating Kansas City, Los Angeles shouldn't have much difficulty with Oakland or the New York Jets in the last two weeks.


Green Bay Packers Claim NFC Wild-Card Spot

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 15: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on October 15, 2017 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hypothetically speaking, quarterback Aaron Rodgers could return to the field in Week 15, but he's yet to receive medical clearance. After the Packers' 27-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns, head coach Mike McCarthy remained tight-lipped about the probability of his starting signal-caller suiting up for the matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

Assuming team physicians give Rodgers the green light, the Packers have the firepower to finish the season on a five-game win streak. They'll also need help with the Atlanta Falcons and Seahawks ahead in the conference standings.

Fortunately for Green Bay, the Seahawks and Falcons play two teams with records above .500. Furthermore, Seattle will have the first crack at running back Ezekiel Elliott once he returns from his six-game suspension in Week 16.

Green Bay will play three games against clubs in the playoff hunt, which indicates a tough road ahead for their pathway to the postseason. However, we saw Rodgers lead this team to six consecutive victories in the previous season en route to a playoff berth. 

Don't count the Packers out as long as they're alive in the postseason race.


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