NFL Standings 2021: Results, Playoff Picture and Scenarios After Week 15

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2021

NFL Standings 2021: Results, Playoff Picture and Scenarios After Week 15

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Playoff races are far from settled in the NFL, and Week 15 did little to provide clarity. It started with a big Thursday night win by the Kansas City Chiefs that gave K.C. a firm grip on the AFC West.

    With the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans both losing, Kansas City also claimed the AFC's No. 1 seed.

    The NFC race got a shock when the one-win Detroit Lions upset the Arizona Cardinals in a game that was never really close. The Dallas Cowboys continued to control the NFC East with a dominant win over the New York Giants. The Miami Dolphins notched their sixth straight victory to maintain their improbable push toward a wild-card spot.

    With Arizona's loss and a win over the Baltimore Ravens, the Green Bay Packers held on to the top spot in the NFC. With Baltimore's loss, the Cincinnati Bengals' win moved them into first place in the AFC North.

    The San Francisco 49ers kept hold of a wild-card spot while all but pushing the Atlanta Falcons out of the mix. In the night game, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to prevent Tampa from clinching the NFC South.

    Below, you'll find a full list of results from Week 15, along with an updated look at the playoff picture and key scenarios coming out of Sunday's action.

Week 15 Results

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    Lon Horwedel/Associated Press

    Thursday, December 16

    Kansas City Chiefs 34, Los Angeles Chargers 28 (OT)


    Saturday, December 18

    Indianapolis Colts 27, New England Patriots 17


    Sunday, December 19

    Dallas Cowboys 21, New York Giants 6

    Houston Texans 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 16

    Pittsburgh Steelers 19, Tennessee Titans 13

    Miami Dolphins 31, New York Jets 24

    Detroit Lions 30, Arizona Cardinals 12

    Buffalo Bills 31, Carolina Panthers 14

    San Francisco 49ers 31, Atlanta Falcons 13

    Cincinnati Bengals 15, Denver Broncos 10

    Green Bay Packers 31, Baltimore Ravens 30

    New Orleans Saints 9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0

AFC Standings

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Kansas City Chiefs 10-4

    New England Patriots 9-5

    Tennessee Titans 9-5

    Cincinnati Bengals 8-6

    Indianapolis Colts 8-6

    Los Angeles Chargers 8-6

    Buffalo Bills 8-6

    Baltimore Ravens 8-6

    Cleveland Browns 7-6

    Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6-1

    Miami Dolphins 7-7

    Denver Broncos 7-7

    Las Vegas Raiders 6-7

    New York Jets 3-11

    Houston Texans 3-11

    Jacksonville Jaguars 2-12

AFC Playoff Picture

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Things have gotten very interesting at the top of the AFC this week. Kansas City's win over the Los Angeles Chargers gave the Chiefs a two-game advantage in the division. Coupled with Saturday's loss by the Patriots, Kansas City took over the No. 1 seed in the conference.

    With the Patriots falling to the Indianapolis Colts, the Titans had an opportunity to snag the AFC's top seed. However, they couldn't push past the pesky Pittsburgh Steelers, who remain alive in the wild-card and AFC North races.

    The Titans' AFC South lead is now down to only one game.

    The Buffalo Bills' win over the Carolina Panthers pulled Buffalo within one game of the Patriots in the AFC East. With a showdown in New England looming for Buffalo, it's safe to say that the AFC East race is far from settled.

    Things are even more open in the AFC North, especially after Pittsburgh's win. The Steelers are still alive, while the Ravens lost control with a loss to the Packers. The Bengals' win against the Denver Broncos gave them control of the North due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

    However, the Cleveland Browns can take over first place in the North with a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday. Cleveland owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bengals. If that happens, Cincinnati will join Baltimore on the outside looking in.

    No team in the AFC can clinch a playoff spot in Week 15.

NFC Standings

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Green Bay Packers 11-3

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-4

    Dallas Cowboys 10-4

    Arizona Cardinals 10-4

    Los Angeles Rams 9-4

    San Francisco 49ers 8-6

    New Orleans Saints 7-7

    Washington Football Team 6-7

    Minnesota Vikings 6-7

    Philadelphia Eagles 6-7

    Atlanta Falcons 6-8

    Seattle Seahawks 5-8

    Carolina Panthers 5-9

    Chicago Bears 4-9

    New York Giants 4-10

    Detroit Lions 2-11-1

NFC Playoff Picture

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    Jose Juarez/Associated Press

    Arizona's shocking loss in Detroit was unexpected, to say the least.

    "I've been covering the Lions since 2006, and this is the biggest upset I can remember," Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press wrote after the game.

    It also had a major impact on the NFC playoff picture. The Cardinals have now lost two in a row and face a critical matchup with the Colts in Week 16. The Los Angeles Rams have an opportunity to claim a share of the NFC West lead with a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. If L.A. can knock off the Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings—and Arizona loses to Indy—the Rams can take over the division with two weeks left to play.

    The Cardinals also dropped to the No. 4 seed with the loss.

    The Packers held on to the conference's top seed with a hard-fought win over the Ravens. Green Bay's win also clinched the NFC North for the Packers—for the third straight season.

    The Cowboys are close to clinching a playoff spot, needing a tie between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team on Tuesday to lock up the NFC East.

    The Buccaneers failed to claim the NFC South on Sunday night. However, Tampa can still clinch a playoff spot this week with a Vikings loss or tie on Monday and a tie between Philadelphia and Washington.

    A bigger concern for Tampa may be the injuries suffered by Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette during Sunday's game. Making a repeat trip to the Super Bowl will be a lot harder if the Buccaneers' top skill players are unavailable.

    The Saints' victory keeps their postseason chances afloat.