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The NFL regular season is down to three weeks, with three-quarters of the league having a legitimate shot to get into the postseason.

Yet with only a month remaining, the only teams to have postseason berths locked up are the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys and Ravens. San Francisco also locked up the NFC West this weekend with a 45–29 victory over the Cardinals.

As for playoff scenarios, the Lions are in the playoffs with a Seahawks loss on Monday night.

Let’s take a look at where things stand.

AFC: Who’s In

If the season ended today, here’s who would make the playoffs.

No. 1: Baltimore Ravens

Record: 11–3, first, AFC North

The Ravens clinched a playoff berth with their win over the Jaguars on Sunday night. With a two-game lead in the AFC North, they head to San Francisco for a Christmas evening matchup with the 49ers.

No. 2: Miami Dolphins

Record: 10–4, first, AFC East

Miami pounded the Jets on Sunday in a 30–0 rout. The Dolphins now face the toughest three-game stretch of their season with the Cowboys, Ravens and Bills on deck. It’s a huge test for a team many want to see beat someone of note before the playoffs.

No. 3: Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 9–5, first, AFC West

The Chiefs started slow against the Patriots before coming to life and handling New England. Kansas City should be a sure thing to win the AFC West, and could find itself fighting for home-field advantage as the Ravens and Dolphins have tough slates ahead.

No. 4: Jacksonville Jaguars

Record: 8–6, first, AFC South

Jacksonville remains in first place of the AFC South, but it’s now tied with the Colts and Texans after losing to the Ravens. Next up is a trip to Tampa Bay to play the rejuvenated Buccaneers.

No. 5: Cleveland Browns

Record: 9–5, second, AFC North

The Browns hosted the Bears on Sunday, winning a wild affair punctuated by Chicago receiver Darnell Mooney dropping a would-be, game-winning Hail Mary. Cleveland is now in an excellent position to be the top-seeded wild-card team in the AFC.

No. 6: Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 8–6, third, AFC North

By virtue of beating the Vikings on Saturday, the Bengals moved into the AFC’s sixth seed. Next up are the Steelers, who beat Cincinnati in Jake Browning’s first start three weeks ago.

No. 7: Indianapolis Colts

Record: 8–6, second, AFC South

The Colts beat the Steelers, and are now currently the seventh seed. Indianapolis will have its hands full in its final three games: at Atlanta and home contests against the Raiders and Texans.

In the Hunt

Houston Texans (8–6): The Texans showed major heart, beating the TItans on Sunday without C.J. Stroud, Nico Collins or Will Anderson Jr. An incredible performance.

Buffalo Bills (8–6): The Bills hammered the Cowboys, and now suddenly have a nice two-game stretch ahead with the Chargers and Patriots. Then, an all-important Week 18 showdown against the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7–7): Pittsburgh is technically still alive, but its three remaining games are against the Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens. Not easy.

NFC: Who’s In

If the season ended today, here’s who would make the playoffs:

No. 1: San Francisco 49ers

Record: 11–3, first, NFC West

The 49ers clinched the NFC West after throttling the Cardinals. San Francisco got another big performance from Brock Purdy, who tossed four touchdown passes and has to be considered the MVP favorite after Dak Prescott struggled against Buffalo.

No. 2: Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 10–3, first, NFC East

The Eagles can’t feel great about things after losing two straight and changing defensive play-callers from Sean Desai to Matt Patricia, but the Cowboys’ loss in Buffalo should ease tensions. If Philadelphia wins out against four sub-.500 teams, its worst-case scenario is the No. 2 seed.

No. 3: Detroit Lions

Record: 10–4, first, NFC North

The Lions easily handled the Broncos on Saturday night, 42–17. With the victory, coupled with losses by the Vikings and Packers, Detroit is one win away from capturing its first NFC North title.

No. 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 7–7, first, NFC South

The Buccaneers earned a huge win over the Packers on Sunday, and are in position to host a playoff game. Additionally, the loss by the Falcons to the Panthers gives Tampa Bay a little breathing room, although the Saints remain in a tie with the Bucs.

No. 5: Dallas Cowboys

Record: 10–4, second, NFC East

Dallas was embarrassed by the Bills, giving up 31 points thanks to a nonexistent run defense and a group hellbent on taking crushing penalties. The Cowboys are now very likely going to be the fifth seed, unless the Eagles unexpectedly trip up.

No. 6: Minnesota Vikings

Record: 7–7, second, NFC North

Despite their loss to the Bengals, the Vikings will not move either way in seeding. They remain the sixth seed going into Week 16. That said, Minnesota has to play the Lions two out of their final three weeks.

No. 7: Los Angeles Rams

Record: 7–7, second, NFC West

Give the Rams credit. After starting 3–6, they’ve won four of their last five games and have key contests with the Saints and Giants coming up. If Los Angeles can take care of business those two weeks, the Week 18 clash against the 49ers might mean little.

In the Hunt

New Orleans Saints (7–7): The Saints took care of the Giants at home. Now, they travel for a critical Thursday night game against the Rams.

Seattle Seahawks (6–7): Seattle is trying to break a four-game losing streak, hosting the Eagles on Monday night.

Atlanta Falcons (6–8): Atlanta somehow lost to the Panthers, giving up only nine points and still not finding a way. The Falcons now find themselves in a dire situation.

Source: https://www.si.com/nfl/2023/12/16/2023-nfl-playoff-picture-eagles-cowboys-can-lock-down-postseason-berths

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Muhammad Azaan

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