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NFL Playoff Picture Week 15: Updated playoff race and scenarios | PFN

The NFL standings did not see a major shakeup after Week 14, but there was some movement in the NFL playoff picture heading towards Week 15. With the 2020 NFL playoff race heating up, let’s take a look at the AFC and NFC playoff standings. 

NFL playoff picture for Week 15

The current NFL playoff standings have a different shape in the new playoff format

After around 30 years of featuring 12 playoff teams, six for each conference, the NFL expanded their playoffs to a 14-team system for the 2020 season. Each conference will now feature three wild card teams instead of two for the first time since the 2002 expansion. The additional wild card team places a premium on the number one seed. Only that team receives a bye in the first weekend of the playoffs.

The remaining six teams in each conference will face off on wild card weekend, as the three remaining divisional winners hosting the three wild card teams (#2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6, and #4 vs. #5). This change in the NFL structure has significantly altered the playoff scenarios and how we view both the playoff picture and standings in the NFC and AFC.

Current AFC playoff standings

1) Kansas City Chiefs, 12-1 – clinched the AFC West

2) Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-1 – clinched a playoff berth

3) Buffalo Bills, 9-3

4) Tennessee Titans, 9-4

5) Cleveland Browns, 9-3

6) Indianapolis Colts, 8-4

7) Miami Dolphins, 8-5

Outside looking in: Las Vegas Raiders (7-5), Baltimore Ravens (7-5), New England Patriots (6-7)

As we look at the NFL playoff picture heading towards Week 15, a number of elements are separating themselves. With the Steelers not playing until Sunday Night Football, the Kansas City Chiefs took over possession of the number one seed. Their victory over the Miami Dolphins has given the Bills an opportunity to open a two-game lead in the race to clinch a home playoff game by topping the AFC East standings.

The loss for the Dolphins has dropped them to the seventh seed in the AFC standings when it comes to the 2020 NFL playoff race. Both the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens have the opportunity to close the gap and apply pressure to the Dolphins.

Current NFC playoff standings

1) New Orleans Saints, 10-2 – clinched a playoff berth

2) Green Bay Packers, 9-3

3) Los Angeles Rams, 9-4

4) Washington Football Team 5-7

5) Seattle Seahawks, 8-4

6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8-5

7) Arizona Cardinals 7-6

Outside looking in: Minnesota Vikings (6-7), Chicago Bears (6-7), San Francisco 49ers (5-7), New York Giants (5-8), Dallas Cowboys (4-9), Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1), 

The NFL playoff picture is really heating up heading into Week 15, especially in the NFC. Victory for the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football ensured they would remain the third seed at the very worst.

Victories for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals have elevated the Cardinals back into the wild-card part of the NFL playoff picture heading into Week 15. The Vikings drop back out of the wild-card spots heading towards Week 15. Meanwhile, the Bears got back to within a game of the playoff race with a victory over the Houston Texans

The NFC East continues to twist and turn. A loss for the Giants temporarily puts Washington in charge of the division. However, a win for the Cowboys in Week 14 puts them firmly back into contention as well.

NFL Playoff scenarios heat up in Week 15

AFC playoff scenarios

When it comes to the AFC’s top seed in the NFL playoff picture heading towards Week 15, one thing is clear; the Pittsburgh Steelers do not have much room for error down the stretch. As long as the Steelers win out, they will lock down the top seed because they have a better conference record than the Chiefs.

The Bills and Browns both also have their futures in their own hands. Win out, and they will retain their spot in the AFC playoff standings. The Bills have a crunch game with the Miami Dolphins in Week 17. That matchup could very easily decide the fate of the AFC East.

NFC playoff scenarios

The NFL playoff picture in the NFC entering Week 15 is very muddled. There are tight races all the way up and down the board. The Saints cannot afford to slip up as they compete for the top seed in the conference. After their Week 3 meeting, the Packers have the tiebreaker if they were to end on the same record.

In the NFC West, the Week 16 game between the Seahawks and Rams looks set to decide the outcome of that division. In the NFC East, all four teams still have a chance to take the division. There are likely to still be plenty of ups and downs in the East down the stretch.

Week 15 clinching scenarios

With a number of games still to play in Week 14, the NFL playoff picture looking ahead to Week 15 is still somewhat fuzzy. We will be updating the clinching scenarios throughout the week as the picture begins to clear.

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