NFL playoff picture: Eagles punch ticket, Chargers in field … for now

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks with Week 14’s Sunday games complete:


x – 1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1), NFC East leaders: The first team to punch its playoff card for 2022, making it two years in a row under coach Nick Sirianni. Philly also picked up breathing room in its bid for a bye and home-field advantage thanks to Minnesota’s loss. Remaining schedule: at Bears, at Cowboys, vs. Saints, vs. Giants

2. Minnesota Vikings (10-3), NFC North leaders: They failed to wrap up their division Sunday but still only need one more win (or Detroit loss) to do so. However,  any notion of snatching NFC’s top seed is quickly fading. Remaining schedule: vs. Colts, vs. Giants, at Packers, at Bears

3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4), NFC West leaders: They chalked up another win but are hoping WR Deebo Samuel’s ankle injury isn’t serious even though he was carted off the field Sunday. But at least Seattle, the Niners’ opponent Thursday, also lost to give San Francisco a formidable divisional bulge. Remaining schedule: at Seahawks, vs. Commanders, at Raiders, vs. Cardinals

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4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7), NFC South leaders: They remain atop this woeful division despite Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the 49ers. But beware of objects in rearview mirror – the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, both 5-8, are now just a game back of the Bucs for first place. Remaining schedule: vs. Bengals, at Cardinals, vs. Panthers, at Falcons

5. Dallas Cowboys (10-3), wild card No. 1: If they overlooked Houston, at least they survived. Can’t do the same next weekend in Jacksonville if they want Week 16 date with Philadelphia to be meaningful as it pertains to NFC East implications. Remaining schedule: at Jaguars, vs. Eagles, at Titans, at Commanders

6. Washington Commanders (7-5-1), wild card No. 2: Rather productive Sunday for a team that didn’t play. While on their bye, the Commanders, winners of six of their past eight, jumped from eighth place in the NFC to sixth courtesy of losses by the Giants and Seahawks. Remaining schedule: vs. Giants, at 49ers, vs. Browns, vs. Cowboys

7. New York Giants (7-5-1), wild card No. 3: Falling like a stone with just one win in their past six outings. Washington’s superior record in NFC East games moves the Commanders ahead of New York going into their massive Week 15 rematch. Remaining schedule: at Commanders, at Vikings, vs. Colts, at Eagles

8. Seattle Seahawks (7-6), out of playoff field: Squandered their home-field advantage by falling to the Panthers, a loss that dropped Seattle out of the projected playoff field. The Seahawks host the 49ers on Thursday in a game that could effectively eliminate Seattle from NFC West contention if San Francisco completes the season sweep. Remaining schedule: vs. 49ers, at Chiefs, vs. Jets, vs. Rams

9. Detroit Lions (6-7), out of playoff field: Even with Sunday’s defeat of Vikes, no margin for error remains for a long shot run at NFC North throne. But odds are growing they could become first team since 1990 to overcome 1-6 start and reach playoffs. Remaining schedule: at Jets, at Panthers, vs. Bears, at Packers


1. Buffalo Bills (10-3), AFC East leaders: Ugly win vs. Jets in nasty Western New York weather conditions Sunday … but it means this team retains inside track to remain in Orchard Park throughout January. Remaining schedule: vs. Dolphins, at Bears, at Bengals, vs. Patriots

2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3), AFC West leaders: Their Week 6 loss to Bills would currently mean road to the AFC crown goes through Buffalo. But on plus side, after Sunday’s win in Denver, K.C. will win its seventh consecutive divisional title with one more win or loss by the Chargers, whom the Chiefs already swept. And the upcoming schedule suggests the No. 1 seed remains a distinct possibility if the Bills trip. Remaining schedule: at Texans, vs. Seahawks, vs. Broncos, at Raiders

3. Baltimore Ravens (9-4), AFC North leaders: They remain atop the division, by virtue of a tiebreaker – Week 5’s victory over Cincinnati, which Baltimore will face again – despite having to go with QB3 Anthony Brown in Sunday’s win at Pittsburgh. But near-term schedule remains favorable. Remaining schedule: at Browns, vs. Falcons, vs. Steelers, at Bengals

4. Tennessee Titans (7-6), AFC South leaders: Uncharacteristically blown out two weeks in a row – and now losers of three straight – they look to be a one-and-done postseason squad for the third consecutive year … assuming they get that far with Jacksonville (5-8) steadily closing on them in the division. Remaining schedule: at Chargers, vs. Texans, vs. Cowboys, at Jaguars

5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4), wild card No. 1: Defending AFC champs are keeping pace with battered Ravens but face a much more daunting schedule ahead of potentially pivotal Week 18 rematch with Baltimore. Remaining schedule: at Buccaneers, at Patriots, vs. Bills, vs. Ravens

6. Miami Dolphins (8-5), wild card No. 2: Despite Sunday night loss to Bolts, Fins remain locked into this spot. Now they return to East Coast ahead of big stakes Saturday night game at Buffalo. Remaining schedule: at Bills, vs. Packers, at Patriots, vs. Jets

7. Los Angeles Chargers (7-6), wild card No. 3: Surviving the Dolphins enabled Bolts to leapfrog the Patriots and Jets (by virtue of their superior record in AFC games) into final wild-card spot … but they may not hold onto it for very long. Remaining schedule: vs. Titans, at Colts, vs. Rams, at Broncos

8. New York Jets (7-6), out of playoff field: They couldn’t keep up in Buffalo on Sunday … meaning NYJ could fall to ninth place in AFC by end of Monday night. Remaining schedule: vs. Lions, vs. Jaguars, at Seahawks, at Dolphins

9. New England Patriots (6-6), out of playoff field: A season sweep of the Jets would be key if they can catch New York. A superior record in AFC games would move them ahead of Chargers if they win in Arizona on Monday night. Remaining schedule: at Cardinals, at Raiders, vs. Bengals, vs. Dolphins, at Bills

x – clinched berth


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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