Thanks to victories or a little help in Week 15, the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills are officially headed to the NFL playoffs.
New England sealed its postseason berth with a triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Niners did so when the Los Angeles Rams fell to the Dallas Cowboys. However, San Francisco's last-second loss to the Atlanta Falcons has created some excitement in the NFC.
Green Bay held off the Chicago Bears, and Seattle punched its playoff ticket when it clipped the Carolina Panthers. Buffalo toppling the Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up Week 15's clinchers.
Of note, San Francisco has dropped from No. 1 in the conference to second place in the NFC West and No. 5 in the NFC. The drama will only build from here.
Week 15 NFL Standings and Playoff Scenarios
1. Baltimore Ravens (12-2, clinched AFC North)
2. New England Patriots (11-3, AFC East leader)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4, clinched AFC West)
4. Houston Texans (9-5, AFC South leader)
5. Buffalo Bills (10-4)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6)
7. Tennessee Titans (8-6)
8. Indianapolis Colts (6-7)
The race for the No. 1 seed is straightforward: If the Ravens win another game, they'll earn home-field advantage in the AFC.
Baltimore holds the head-to-head victory on New England but fell to Kansas City, so Lamar Jackson and Co. will be aiming for that playoff-long edge in Week 16. The Ravens head to the Cleveland Browns, who thumped Baltimore 40-25 in September.
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With the Patriots and Chiefs winning today, the Ravens will have to wait at least another week to clinch home-field advantage. The magic number for a first-round bye is one. The Ravens play the Browns next week, while the Patriots host the Bills and the Chiefs go to Chicago.
New England, meanwhile, is looking to hold off Kansas City and secure a first-round bye. The Chiefs are a game behind but own the head-to-head triumph between the teams.
Kansas City faces a similar situation—sans the home-field advantage impact—against the Texans. Houston is enjoying a critical win over the Titans but they'll square off again in Week 17. The AFC South title will be at stake unless the Texans defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee loses to the New Orleans Saints next week.
The Bills clinched a playoff berth with a victory over the Steelers, and the result is doubly important. In Week 16, Buffalo heads to New England on Saturday afternoon. An upset of the Patriots means the Bills could actually win the AFC East.
While the Denver Broncos are now mathematically done, both the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders put themselves on the brink of elimination with losses in Week 15.
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-3, NFC West leader)
2. Green Bay Packers (11-3, NFC North leader)
3. New Orleans Saints (10-3, clinched NFC South)
4. Dallas Cowboys (7-7, NFC East leader)
5. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)
6. Minnesota Vikings (10-4)
7. Los Angeles Rams (8-6)
8. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)
Because of the loss at Green Bay and Minnesota's victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Bears are officially eliminated from the playoff picture. Additionally, the Packers stayed in position to grab at least a first-round bye.
That race was already going to be hotly contested down the stretch, but San Francisco's loss makes it even more intriguing.
Seattle is suddenly the No. 1 seed, at least until next weekend. New Orleans will host the Indianapolis Colts during Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 15. Though the Saints will stay at No. 3 no matter the result, they need a victory to stay in the race.
Next weekend is especially pivotal for the NFC East and North.
Dallas will take on Philadelphia in a battle between 7-7 teams. Since the Cowboys won the earlier matchup, they can clinch the East with a win Dec. 22. Dallas wrecked the Rams 44-21 after Philadelphia scored a couple of late touchdowns to survive a trip to Washington and record a 37-27 victory.
Then on Dec. 23, the Packers will oppose Minnesota with a chance to seal the North. Fortunately for the Vikings, the Rams' loss means any combination of one victory or one more Los Angeles loss assures Minnesota of a spot in the playoffs.
Other than the East, the NFC playoff field is essentially set.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.