NFL Playoff Picture: Who’s In if the Postseason Started Today?


Nov 7, 2023

We have to soak in every minute of football action we can. After 18 weeks, the NFL regular season is over, and most teams are left licking their wounds. However, the 14 teams left standing dial things up a notch, competing for glory and the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Here’s what the playoff brackets would look like if the postseason started today.

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Division Leaders (odds to win the division) Wild Card Teams (odds to make the playoffs)
No. 1 – Philadelphia Eagles (-600) First-Round Bye
No. 2 – Detroit Lions (-800) No. 7 – Minnesota Vikings (+122)
No. 3 – San Francisco 49ers (-360) No. 6 – Dallas Cowboys (-1300)
No. 4 – New Orleans Saints (-150) No. 5 – Seattle Seahawks (-260)

More NFC: Who Can Stop the Eagles | Dobbs Leads Vikings to Victory |

Arguably, the Philadelphia Eagles’ best performance of the season came at the most crucial time. The Eagles knocked off their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, improving their record to 8-1 on the season. That gives them a comfortable lead atop the NFC standings, sitting 2.5 games up on the next closest team, with their bye week still on the horizon.

The only thing that could slow the Detroit Lions down was a bye week. The NFC North leaders have been roaring since the end of last season, extending their run of exceptional play. Detroit has a relatively unobstructed path to the end of the season, not facing a team with a winning record until Week 16. There, they face the Minnesota Vikings twice over the final three weeks of the year. If we factor in the first round of the playoff, there will be no love lost between these divisional foes, facing each other three times in four weeks. 

The two most prominent moves this week came in the bottom half of the bracket. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks continued their weeks-long shuffle in the NFC West. Seattle suffered a convincing defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, allowing the idle Niners to move back into the division lead. 

Similarly, the New Orleans Saints overtook the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. We got a vintage N’awlins performance on Sunday. Derek Carr had the Saints’ offense marching, while their defense had a few crucial turnovers sprinkled throughout the contest. That means New Orleans could host its first playoff game since 2020, taking on the aforementioned Seahawks. That would leave the 49ers to duke it out with the Cowboys in the final wild-card matchup.

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Division Leaders (odds to win the division) Wild Card Teams (odds to make the playoffs)
No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs (-800) First-Round Bye
No. 2 – Baltimore Ravens (-145) No. 7 – Cincinnati Bengals (-290)
No. 3 – Jacksonville Jaguars (-410) No. 6 – Cleveland Browns (-172)
No. 4 – Miami Dolphins (-195) No. 5 – Pittsburgh Steelers (+152)

More AFC: Ravens Lead the Pack | Assessing Jacksonville’s Potential | Are the Dolphins Flawed?

On Sunday, overseas football enthusiasts were treated to a potential preview of the AFC Championship Game. The Kansas City Chiefs dispatched the Miami Dolphins in Frankfurt, asserting themselves as the cream of the AFC crop. KC built itself a cushy 21-0 lead in the first half, holding on for a 21-14 victory as -2.5 chalk. Although they aren’t immune to struggles, the Chiefs only have to fend off the Baltimore Ravens for the opening-round bye. 

The Ravens have flown the coop lately, terrorizing their most recent opponents. Baltimore has won four straight, recording 31 or more points in each of their last three outings. As expected, they have maintained their lead in the AFC North while pulling level with Kansas City at 7-2. Try as they may; not even Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals could slow down the Ravens. However, that dynamic will shift by the time the playoffs roll around.

The AFC South has got to be one of the most absolute divisions in all of sports. You’re either leading the division or one of the worst teams in the league. No in-betweens. That’s good news for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who appear set to repeat as division winners for the first time since they competed in the AFC Central Division in 1998-1999. It would be a poetic first-round meeting with another franchise whose struggles are well-documented — the Cleveland Browns

A loss to the Chiefs relegated the Dolphins to the fourth seed, igniting a potential clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Somehow, the Steelers continue to win games despite getting out-gained in every matchup this season while scoring just a handful of offensive touchdowns. If this game comes to fruition, the Fins will likely have the steepest spread of the Wild Card Round. 

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Thumbnail photo via Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

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