Christmas is two weeks away, and the NFL playoff field is still far from being set in stone.
As we sit here in mid-December, only the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have clinched playoff spots.
The New England Patriots — despite their shocking, last-second loss in Miami — are still a slam dunk to once again win the AFC East, while it would take acts of God for the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks to whiff on wild-card spots.
But good luck figuring out seeding at this point. With three weeks left in the regular season, things are still very much open when it comes to settling the playoff field.
Here’s where it stands after Week 14, though.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2)
2. New England Patriots (9-4)
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at No. 3 Houston Texans (9-4)
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers at No. 4 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)
Notes: Sucks to be the Chargers, right? LA has the conference’s second-best record, but they have to win the division to get a bye. Not only that, they’d have to go to Pittsburgh and play a Steelers team with a worse record who the Chargers already beat in Pittsburgh this season. Then again, they still very much have a path to the No. 1 seed in the division, starting with a huge Thursday night matchup against the Chiefs. … It’s going to be hard for the Patriots to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but a bye and home-field in the divisional round seem pretty safe despite Sunday’s slip-up. … A month ago, Pittsburgh was in the running for the No. 1 seed. Now, it’s very possible the Steelers miss the playoffs. They have the Patriots this week and the Saints next week with a host of six-loss teams, including the Ravens, nipping at their heels. … The Colts, Dolphins and Titans all have six losses, and the Browns are technically still alive in the North if Baltimore and Pittsburgh both screw the pooch
1. New Orleans Saints (11-2)
2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
No. 6 Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1) at No. 3 Chicago Bears (9-4)
No. 5 Seattle Seahawks (8-5) at No. 4 Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
Notes: If those matchups hold, we’ll be looking at an awesome wild-card matchup in the NFC. … That being said, there are four teams all hoping and praying the Vikings’ free fall continues. If Minnesota loses two more games (vs. Miami, at Detroit, vs. Chicago), then the Panthers, Eagles, Redskins and Packers will all be back in the mix. The problem for those four teams is they’re all either very much banged up and/or have at least one more seemingly unwinnable game. Someone getting in with an 8-7-1 or 8-8 record seems very much on the table.
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