NFL playoff picture: AFC, NFC seeds through Week 14

Four of the AFC's top six teams lost Sunday. None of them, however, fell out of position in the playoff race during the course of a wild Week 14. The Chiefs inched closer to home-field advantage, thanks in part to a ridiculous ending in Miami.

Let's get to the details of the NFL playoff picture as it would look if the season had ended today.

Note: X denotes a team that has clinched a playoff berth, while Z shows a team that has clinched its division.


1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2) -- X

Even after a thrilling overtime victory Sunday over the Ravens, the Chiefs haven't run away with the AFC West title. That could all change Thursday night when the near-equally hot Chargers visit Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs would clinch the division and at least a first-round bye with a victory. (They did clinch a playoff spot Sunday.)

Next up: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (Thursday)

2. New England Patriots (9-4)

Sunday's last-play disaster in Miami delayed the Patriots' inevitable AFC East title celebration for one week. ESPN's Football Power Index still gives them a 99.2 percent chance to win the division. But now it will be exceptionally difficult to leapfrog the Chiefs (or Chargers) for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Next up: at Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Houston Texans (9-4)

The Texans' chance to clinch the AFC South in Week 14 was dashed by the Titans' victory on Thursday night. But Houston is still up two games over the Titans and Colts with three to play. That means the Texans can clinch the division as early as Week 15, if they win at the Jets and both the Titans and Colts lose.

Next up: at New York Jets (Saturday)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)

A three-game losing streak has all but ended the Steelers' chances of getting a first-round bye in the playoffs. It also has loosened what once appeared a stranglehold on the AFC North. Only a half-game separates them from the Ravens. Even worse: The Steelers' next two games are at home against the Patriots and then at the Saints. Can they get to nine wins? FPI gives them a 71.3 percent chance to make the playoffs, and 65.7 percent chance to win the division. But this has gotten much closer than anticipated.

Next up: vs. New England Patriots

5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-3)

The Chargers are headed for their biggest game in years. A victory Thursday night at Kansas City would give them a legitimate chance to win the AFC West and possibly the No. 1 overall seed. The Chiefs would still hold the tiebreaker in that situation because of a superior division record, but the Chargers would be poised to capitalize if the Chiefs lost one of their final two games. FPI gives them a 9.7 percent chance of pulling that off.

Next up: at Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday)

6. Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

Sunday's loss in Kansas City wasn't nearly as painful as it could have been. When the dust settled late Sunday afternoon, the Ravens still had not been knocked out of the No. 6 spot. Victories by the Titans, Colts and Dolphins created a quartet of 7-6 teams. But the Ravens hold the four-way tiebreaker and have a very winnable home game in Week 15. The Steelers' loss, meanwhile, puts the Ravens genuinely back into the AFC North race.

Next up: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the hunt: Indianapolis Colts (7-6), Miami Dolphins (7-6), Tennessee Titans (7-6), Denver Broncos (6-7), Cleveland Browns (5-7-1).


1. New Orleans Saints (11-2) -- Z

The Saints took back control of home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a victory Sunday over the Buccaneers, combined with the Rams' loss in Chicago. Two of their final three games are against the Panthers, who have collapsed during a five-game losing streak.

Next up: at Carolina Panthers

2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2) -- Z

The Rams haven't inspired much confidence that they can win an NFC playoff game on the road, an unfortunate message as they fell back out of the top seed in the conference. Their two losses this season have come against the teams on either side of them in the standings: the Saints and Bears. All three of their remaining opponents have losing records, and two of those games will be at home, but the Saints might not give them another opportunity to rise in the standings.

Next up: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

3. Chicago Bears (9-4)

Sunday's victory over the Rams leaves the Bears potentially one week away from clinching the NFC North. They can do it in Week 15 with a win against the Packers. A first-round bye isn't out of the question but would require two losses by the Rams over the final three weeks.

Next up: vs. Green Bay Packers

4. Dallas Cowboys (8-5)

Winners of five consecutive games, the Cowboys have run away with the NFC East. They can clinch the division as early as Week 15 with a victory at Indianapolis. Whether it happens then or not, FPI projects the division title is a near certainty at 99.3 percent. That's pretty incredible for a team that fell to 3-5 in the first week of November.

Next up: at Indianapolis Colts

5. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Monday night's victory over the Vikings all but locked up a playoff spot for a team that started 0-2 but has now won four consecutive games. FPI gives the Seahawks a 99 percent chance to make the playoffs.

Next up: at San Francisco 49ers

6. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)

Despite the most discouraging of defeats Monday night, the Vikings emerged from Week 14 in decent shape. Losses by the Panthers, Eagles and Redskins left only six NFC teams with records at .500 or above. As a result, the Vikings still have a healthy 56 percent chance to get to the playoffs, according to FPI.

Next up: vs. Miami Dolphins

In the hunt: Carolina Panthers (6-7), Philadelphia Eagles (6-7), Washington Redskins (6-7), Green Bay Packers (5-7-1), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8)