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

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 9, 2021

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

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Even when the Arizona Cardinals were without Kyler Murray for three games, they still had the best record in the NFL. Now, they have their star player back, and they're looking for a strong finish to the regular season to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

    The quarterback had four total touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in his Week 13 return, powering the Cardinals to a 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears. Arizona became the first team in the league with 10 wins this season, as it improved to 10-2.

    It's not a sure thing that the Cardinals will end up as the NFC's top seed, as they still have a few challenging matchups ahead. That includes Week 14, when they'll host the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.

    With five weeks remaining in the regular season, here's a look at the full playoff picture around the NFL.

Current NFL Standings

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    AFC East

    New England Patriots (9-4)

    Buffalo Bills (7-5)

    Miami Dolphins (6-7)

    New York Jets (3-9)


    AFC North

    Baltimore Ravens (8-4)

    Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)

    Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1)

    Cleveland Browns (6-6)


    AFC South

    Tennessee Titans (8-4)

    Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

    Houston Texans (2-10)

    Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)


    AFC West

    Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)

    Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)

    Las Vegas Raiders (6-6)

    Denver Broncos (6-6)


    NFC East

    Dallas Cowboys (8-4)

    Washington Football Team (6-6)

    Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

    New York Giants (4-8)


    NFC North

    Green Bay Packers (9-3)

    Minnesota Vikings (5-7)

    Chicago Bears (4-8)

    Detroit Lions (1-10-1)


    NFC South

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)

    Carolina Panthers (5-7)

    Atlanta Falcons (5-7)

    New Orleans Saints (5-7)


    NFC West

    Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

    Los Angeles Rams (8-4)

    San Francisco 49ers (6-6)

    Seattle Seahawks (4-8)

AFC Playoff Picture

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Bye: No. 1 New England Patriots (9-4)

    No. 2 Tennessee Titans (8-4) vs. No. 7 Buffalo Bills (7-5)

    No. 3 Baltimore Ravens (8-4) vs. No. 6 Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)

    No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)


    The Patriots have the longest active winning streak in the NFL, as they've notched seven consecutive victories. And not only have they moved to the top of the AFC East, but they're also the current No. 1 seed in the AFC.

    It's still a tight battle for the top spot, though, with the Titans, Ravens and Chiefs all only a half-game back of the Pats. But not all of those teams are trending in the same direction.

    Baltimore is 3-3 over the past seven weeks, and it had a tough 20-19 loss at Pittsburgh this past week. The Ravens also have a difficult final stretch, with their final five games coming against the Browns, Packers, Bengals, Rams and Steelers.

    Tennessee has lost two straight games and will be looking to get back on track coming out of its Week 13 bye. However, its offense remains shorthanded without star running back Derrick Henry and top wide receiver A.J. Brown, so it will need to find ways to excel without them.

    Kansas City has overcome a slow start to reel off five consecutive wins and move to the top of the AFC West. The Chiefs are playing much better and may continue to move up the standings in the near future.

    The Chargers, Bengals and Bills are all 7-5, and while they're all currently in a wild-card spot, none of them are out of their respective division races. Buffalo got off to a hot start, but it has fallen down the standings after losing four of its past seven games.

    The Steelers (6-5-1) and Colts (7-6) both won this past week and are the first teams outside of the playoff spots. The Raiders, Browns and Broncos are all 6-6 and not too far back, while the Dolphins have won five straight games to improve to 6-7.

    No AFC team has clinched a playoff berth yet, and that won't change in Week 14. But the only team in the conference eliminated from postseason contention is the Texans (2-10).

NFC Playoff Picture

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Bye: No. 1 Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

    No. 2 Green Bay Packers (9-3) vs. No. 7 San Francisco 49ers (6-6)

    No. 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) vs. No. 6 Washington Football Team (6-6)

    No. 4 Dallas Cowboys (8-4) vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Rams (8-4)


    The first playoff berths could be sealed in the NFC in Week 14, as the Cardinals, Packers and Buccaneers all have the potential to do so, per But only Arizona can progress without help.

    If the Cardinals win or tie against the Rams, they'll clinch a playoff berth. They'd also secure a spot in any of the following three scenarios (none of which are impacted by the result of their own game): a Vikings loss/tie and a 49ers loss; a Vikings loss/tie, a Saints loss/tie and a Panthers loss/tie; or a 49ers loss, a Saints loss/tie and a tie between the Panthers and Falcons.

    As for the Packers and Buccaneers, they'll both need help to ensure a playoff berth this week. However, they could also clinch their respective division titles, which the Cardinals can't do.

    Green Bay will claim the NFC North title with a win over Chicago and a Minnesota loss/tie to Pittsburgh. (It would also succeed with a tie and a Minnesota loss.) Even if the Vikings win, the Packers can still clinch a playoff berth with a win, a Saints loss/tie and either a 49ers loss or a Rams loss and a 49ers tie.

    Tampa Bay can clinch the NFC South with a win over Buffalo and losses/ties by New Orleans and Carolina. If that doesn't happen, the Bucs could still clinch a playoff berth with a tie, a Panthers loss, a Saints loss, a Vikings loss, a 49ers loss/tie and a Washington loss/tie.

    While it's possible none of the NFC's top three teams will seal anything this week, they're all trending in that direction and should do so in the near future.

    The NFC East race could get tighter this week. Washington has won four games in a row to cut Dallas' lead to two, and the two teams will face off on Sunday. It's the first of two matchups between the sides in three weeks, as WFT is entering a stretch of five straight division games to end the regular season.

    The Eagles (6-7) are only a half-game back of Washington and the 49ers in the wild-card race, while the Vikings, Panthers, Falcons and Saints are all 5-7 and still firmly in the hunt.

    Because the wild-card race is so tight, no NFC team has been eliminated from playoff contention. Not even the Lions, who beat the Vikings last week to improve to 1-10-1.