There are only two weeks remaining in the NFL regular season but several teams last Sunday determined whether they were going to the playoffs. The postseason picture is now much clearer than seven days ago.
The AFC Conference has sorted itself out a little more than the NFC and there are not nearly as many teams trying to grab the last of the six spots. For the squads still trying to get in to the postseason, winning their next two games are going to be crucial.
The Baltimore Ravens are in the hunt but they know they can’t depend on others losing to get in. Running back Buck Allen told the Baltimore Sun the team is focused on just what they can control.
“Regardless of all that, we have to take care of our business,” he said. “We can’t let them determine our fate. We can’t just hope these other teams lose or whatever they do. We still have to go out there and take care of our jobs.”
Where AFC Stands
Three teams in the AFC clinched their division. New England grabbed its ninth consecutive AFC East title with a victory over Pittsburgh. They also have the advantage of capturing the top seed with one more victory and having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Surprisingly the loss didn’t hurt the Steelers as much as it could have. The team still won the AFC North and if the Patriots stumble in their last two games they could still get home field advantage. Even if they don’t they should get a bye in the first round and then play their opponent at home.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the other team trying to host teams. They are one win away from the AFC South crown and also have an outside shot at the top seed. If the Steelers and the Patriots to lose a game they could claim No. 1 position.
The Kansas City Chiefs took a big step towards clinching the AFC West after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers. All they need to do is win one of their last two games and they are in the playoffs.
The two wild card spots are where it gets tricky. The Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans have the nod right now, but need to win out to make it. If they don’t Baltimore and the Chargers could move up.
Where the NFC Stands
The Philadelphia Eagles are in firm command of the conference at 11-2 and even without starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who is lost for the season with a knee injury, the Eagles should cruise to the top seed.
The Minnesota Vikings could take home field away from the Eagles but will need one Philadelphia loss to do it. The winner of the NFC North will probably have to be content with the No. 2 seed.
The Los Angeles Rams still have to win one more game to get into the playoffs, but should be able to clinch the NFC West on Sunday. They might be able to get a first-round bye if they win both their games.
The New Orleans Saints are on the verge of winning the NFC South, but there is a real battle between them, the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. It is the strongest division in the NFL and any one of those teams could win the division. The second-place finisher would get a wild card berth.
The last wild card spot will be a struggle between the third-place team in the NFC South and Seattle and Dallas. Both the Seahawks and the Cowboys would have to win out and hope for some help if they are going to make it.