NFL Playoff Picture: Patriots In Precarious Position Entering Steelers Showdown

Here’s a look at the current NFL standings and playoff picture entering Week 15:

AFC
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2; AFC North leader)
2. New England Patriots (10-3; AFC East leader)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4; AFC South leader)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6; AFC West leader)
5. Tennessee Titans (8-5; first wild card)
6. Buffalo Bills (7-6; second wild card)

In the hunt: Baltimore Ravens (7-6), Los Angeles Chargers (7-6), Oakland Raiders (6-7), Miami Dolphins (6-7)
Long shots: New York Jets (5-8), Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
Eliminated: Houston Texans (4-9), Denver Broncos (4-9), Indianapolis Colts (3-10), Cleveland Browns (0-13)

NFC
1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-2; NFC East leader)
2. Minnesota Vikings (10-3; NFC North leader)
3. Los Angeles Rams (9-4; NFC West leader)
4. New Orleans Saints (9-4; NFC South leader)
5. Carolina Panthers (9-4; first wild card)
6. Atlanta Falcons (8-5; second wild card)

In the hunt: Seattle Seahawks (8-5), Detroit Lions (7-6), Green Bay Packers (7-6), Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
Long shots: Arizona Cardinals (6-7)
Eliminated: Washington Redskins (5-8), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9), Chicago Bears (4-9), San Francisco 49ers (3-10), New York Giants (2-11)

Some observations:

— The Steelers and Eagles are the only teams that have clinched playoff berths thus far. Both have clinched their respective divisions, as well.

— Sunday’s New England-Pittsburgh showdown will go a long way toward deciding who earns home-field advantage in the AFC. The Patriots would vault into first place with a win, but a loss would eliminate them from contention for the No. 1 seed. The Pats could come out of the weekend ranked as low as third if they lose and the Jaguars beat the Texans.

— Patriots vs. Steelers is the only game this week that features two teams currently in playoff position. Rams vs. Seahawks, Packers vs. Panthers and Chargers vs. Chiefs both should be fun, though.

— The Bills, Ravens and Chargers are locked in a dead heat for the second wild-card spot in the AFC, with Buffalo currently holding the edge thanks to a complicated tiebreaker system.

The Chargers have a chance to overtake Kansas City as the AFC West leader in their head-to-head matchup Saturday night. The red-hot Chargers have an easy schedule the rest of the way, closing out the regular season with games against the Jets and Raiders.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images

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