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NFL Playoff Picture: Chiefs, Packers grab hold of top seeds

Rey Del Rio / Getty Images Sport / Getty

NFL Playoff Picture is a weekly look at the teams jockeying to secure their shot to make it to Super Bowl LV.


Seed Team Division Record
1 Chiefs (y) West 12-1
2 Steelers (x) North 11-2
3 Bills East 10-3
4 Titans South 9-4
5 Browns North 9-3
6 Colts South 9-4
7 Dolphins East 8-5

x = clinched playoff berth
y = clinched division title
z = clinched first-round bye

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have opened up a lead atop the AFC. On the strength of a gutty win over the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers' two-game losing streak, the Chiefs have taken a step toward locking up home-field advantage and the conference's only first-round bye.

Just two weeks ago, many wondered whether the Steelers would go undefeated. Now Pittsburgh has lost its grasp of the AFC's top seed, and the team could fumble away the division, too. The Steelers' AFC North-lead could drop to one game by the end of Week 14, depending on the outcome of Monday night's game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

The Buffalo Bills impressed in prime time for the second straight week, handing the Steelers their second loss of the season on Sunday night. As a result, the Bills now own a two-game AFC East lead with just three weeks left.

Derrick Henry's latest monster performance ensured the Tennessee Titans will remain atop the AFC South for another week. The Titans returned to the win column largely thanks to King Henry's 222-yard day, increasing the team's chances of winning the division to 58%, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The Browns are peaking at the right time. They've won four straight and cast a tall shadow behind the Steelers in the AFC North race. The Browns sit in the first wild-card spot and can improve their standing with a victory over the Ravens.

The Indianapolis Colts won perhaps the biggest game with playoff ramifications on Sunday. Their victory over the Las Vegas Raiders helped the Colts improve their wild-card chances and remain on par with the Titans in the AFC South.

The Dolphins are in danger of falling out of a playoff spot. With a hard-fought loss against the Chiefs, Miami dropped one position in the AFC standings. The Dolphins have important matchups with the New England Patriots, Raiders, and Bills coming up.

In the hunt

Seed Team Division Record
8 Ravens North 7-5
9 Raiders West 7-6
10 Patriots East 6-7

Baltimore ended a three-game losing streak last week and will need to defeat the Browns on Monday to get back in the playoff picture. The Ravens won the first matchup 38-6 in Week 1.

The Raiders are likely suffering from a case of deja vu. Las Vegas lost five of its final six games last season and missed the playoffs. A year later, the Raiders have dropped three of four and are fighting for their playoff lives.

The Patriots are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008. New England finishes the campaign with only AFC East matchups, starting with a trip to Miami in Week 15, a place that has caused the Patriots problems in the past.


Seed Team Division Record
1 Packers (y) North 10-3
2 Saints (x) South 10-3
3 Rams West 9-4
4 Washington East 6-7
5 Seahawks West 9-4
6 Buccaneers South 8-5
7 Cardinals West 7-6

x = clinched playoff berth
y = clinched division title
z = clinched first-round bye

There was a big shakeup in the NFC on Sunday. The New Orleans Saints' nine-game winning streak came to an end, and the Green Bay Packers capitalized. The Packers hold the top seed in the conference thanks to their win over the Detroit Lions and the Saints' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Green Bay holds the tiebreaker with its victory over New Orleans in Week 3.

It's shaping up to be an exciting three-week race for the only bye in the NFC.

The Los Angeles Rams still hold the NFC West lead after blowing out the Patriots on Thursday, though they didn't create any distance from the Seattle Seahawks or Arizona Cardinals, who each scored easy wins on Sunday.

The Washington Football Team is in the driver's seat for the NFC East's playoff spot. Washington has won four of its last five and gained some separation from the New York Giants, who own the tiebreaker.

Though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't move up in the standings, they took a big step toward ending their 12-year playoff drought with an important win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. That dropped the Vikings from seventh to eighth and improved Tampa Bay's chances of reaching the postseason to 96%, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The team that improved its playoff chances the most this week was Arizona. The Cardinals vaulted the Vikings for the final wild-card spot and are a game up on their closest competitors. Arizona owns a 54% shot at making the postseason.

In the hunt

Seed Team Division Record
8 Vikings North 6-7
9 Bears North 6-7
10 Lions North 5-8
11 49ers West 5-8
12 Giants East 5-8

The Packers clinched the NFC North, and the other three teams in the division are on the outside, looking in. The Vikings and Chicago Bears will go head to head in Week 15, with the loser being all but eliminated from the postseason hunt.

The Giants' and San Francisco 49ers' slim playoff hopes took a hit thanks to their losses and Washington's victory.

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