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On Sunday, we saw a shift in the NFC.

In the NFC South, the battle to win the division and reach .500 continues to rage on. As a result of the Buccaneers beating the Falcons, and the Saints handling the Panthers, there’s a three-way tie atop the division, with Tampa Bay (6–7) holding the tenuous tiebreaker.

Meanwhile, the NFC East saw a shakeup with the Cowboys earning a season split against the Eagles, putting them atop the division with four games remaining. However, Philadelphia’s schedule is much easier, not facing another team with a winning record in the season’s final four weeks.

In the AFC, the Chiefs and Jaguars are both on two-game losing streaks, seeing their division leads shrink. In the wild-card race, the Bengals and Bills got to 7–6, putting themselves squarely in the conversation for a playoff berth despite myriad adversity.

Let’s look at who stands where as we head for a Monday Night Football doubleheader.

AFC: Who’s In

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

No. 1: Baltimore Ravens

Record: 10–3, first, AFC North

It wasn’t easy, but the Ravens beat the Rams in overtime to become the AFC’s first 10-win team. Baltimore has a tough slate ahead, including its next two games on the road against the Jaguars and 49ers, and in primetime.

No. 2: Miami Dolphins

Record: 9–3, first, AFC East

Miami hosts the Titans on Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium. With a loss, the Dolphins remain the second seed. If they win, they’ll switch places with the Ravens.

No. 3: Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 8–5, first, AFC West

Kansas City has entered panic mode. The Chiefs only lead the AFC West by a game after losing to the Bills, their fourth defeat in six weeks. The good news? The remaining schedule features the Raiders, Patriots, Bengals and Chargers.

No. 4: Jacksonville Jaguars

Record: 8–5, first, AFC South

Jacksonville still leads the division, despite the defense being lit up in consecutive weeks by Jake Browning and Joe Flacco. Next up is Lamar Jackson, who comes to Jacksonville on Sunday night.

No. 5: Cleveland Browns

Record: 8–5, second, AFC North

The Browns have started four different quarterbacks this year, and yet they’re pushing for a playoff spot. Cleveland has a favorable schedule ahead with the Bears, Jets and Bengals.

No. 6: Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 7–6, third, AFC North

Pittsburgh has a playoff spot, but that might not last for long. The Steelers are coming off home losses to the Cardinals and Patriots, and now go to Indianapolis for what amounts to a borderline elimination game Saturday.

No. 7: Indianapolis Colts

Record: 7–6, second, AFC South

After winning five consecutive games, the Colts finally lost. Indianapolis was handled by the Bengals, but still hold the final AFC playoff spot. Next weekend brings the Steelers to Lucas Oil Stadium for a key matchup.

In the Hunt

Houston Texans (7–6): Houston was handled by the Jets, somehow giving up more than 300 passing yards to Zach Wilson. To make matters worse, C.J. Stroud had to leave early and is in concussion protocol.

Denver Broncos (7–6): Denver has won six of its last seven, and now goes to Detroit for a huge game. If the Broncos can pull the upset against an uneven Lions team, they have a shot at the AFC West.

Cincinnati Bengals (7–6): Cincinnati has won two straight with Jake Browning, and now welcomes in the Vikings on Saturday. It’s an opportunity to make a move.

NFC: Who’s In

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

No. 1: San Francisco 49ers

Record: 10–3, first, NFC West

The 49ers are the NFC’s top seed and with the way they’re playing, there’s nobody looking forward to going to the Bay Area come January. The Niners simply have to handle their business for four weeks, and the playoffs go through Santa Clara.

No. 2: Dallas Cowboys

Record: 10–3, first, NFC East

The Cowboys are rolling, winners of five straight. They’re also the only team to eclipse 400 points while Dak Prescott could be in the midst of an MVP campaign. Dallas has a real shot to hold onto the NFC East crown, although the next two weeks feature challenging road games against the Bills and Dolphins.

No. 3: Detroit Lions

Record: 9–4, first, NFC North

The Lions still have an excellent record, but there are issues. Jared Goff struggled again this weekend, throwing two interceptions. Detroit had three turnovers against the Bears, allowing 28 points. Over their past seven games, the Lions are giving up more than 29 points per game.

No. 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 6–7, first, NFC South

The Buccaneers might host a playoff game, which should be enough to make the NFL rethink its policy of automatic playoff berths for division winners. That said, Tampa Bay took care of the Falcons, scoring 17 points on its final four offensive drives.

No. 5: Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 10–3, second, NFC East

Like the Chiefs, the Eagles are a dangerous-but-flawed team. Philadelphia has been torched defensively the past two weeks, while the pass defense remains a bottom-five unit. If that doesn’t change, the Eagles will struggle come January against San Francisco and/or Dallas.

No. 6: Minnesota Vikings

Record: 7–6, second, NFC North

It’s not often a team scores only three points and wins, but the Vikings pulled off the feat. In fact, it’s the first time since 2007 a team managed it. Minnesota has a new quarterback in Nick Mullens after benching Joshua Dobbs, and Mullens provided a spark. But will he start against Cincinnati on Saturday?

No. 7: Green Bay Packers

Record: 6–6, third, NFC North

The Packers play on Monday night at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. Regardless of the outcome, they will remain the seventh seed going into Week 15.

In the Hunt

Los Angeles Rams (6–7): The Rams lost to the Ravens in overtime, but now have a two-game homestand against the Commanders and Saints.

Seattle Seahawks (6–7): The Seahawks are under .500 and have Drew Lock under center. They’ve also lost four straight, and the Eagles are visiting on Monday night. Tough times.

Atlanta Falcons (6–7): With a win on Sunday over the Buccaneers, Atlanta would have been in an excellent position. Now, it needs to win to regain control of the moribund NFC South.

Source: https://www.si.com/nfl/2023/12/11/2023-nfl-week-15-playoff-picture-49ers-ravens-top-seeds

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