Making sense of the AFC North
2:42 |
Making sense of the AFC North
Monday December 8th, 2014

Here’s what the AFC and NFC playoff pictures look like after Sunday's action:

Catch up on everything you've missed from NFL Week 14


1. New England Patriots (10-3)

2. Denver Broncos (10-3)

3. Indianapolis Colts  (9-4)

4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1)

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

6. San Diego Chargers (8-5)

In the hunt: Baltimore Ravens (8-5); Houston Texans (7-6); Miami Dolphins (7-6); Kansas City Chiefs (7-6); Buffalo Bills (7-6); Cleveland Browns (7-6).

A win over the Chargers puts the Patriots one step closer to having the AFC playoffs run through Foxboro. With winnable home games against the Dolphins (Week 15) and Bills (Week 17), an easy road trip to the Jets (Week 16), and the head-to-head edge over the Broncos, New England has the inside track on the No. 1 seed.

Sticking with Brian Hoyer over Johnny Manziel may be the Browns' undoing

The next two weeks could prove challenging to the Broncos (at San Diego, at Cincinnati), but barring an upset loss at home to Oakland in Week 17, Denver should capture yet another AFC West title and the No. 2 seed. San Diego's loss to New England in Sunday Night Football likely takes a division title off the table, but the Chargers remain in the thick of the wild-card race and hold a crucial tiebreaker over the Ravens thanks to their win in Baltimore in Week 13.

All four AFC North teams technically remain alive in the division race, but the Bengals and Steelers are in the driver's seat. If either team wins out (they face each other in Pittsburgh in Week 17), it wins the North. Few teams have been more up-and-down than Pittsburgh, but the team's next two games are very winnable: at Atlanta, vs. Kansas City. Cincy faces a tougher road: at Cleveland (which demolished Cincy 24-3 in Week 10), vs. Denver.

Baltimore may have the inside track on the second AFC wild-card spot by virtue of its schedule (Jacksonville, at Houston, Cleveland) but don't sleep on the potential AFC West runners-up: San Diego or Kansas City.


1. Arizona Cardinals (10-3)

2. Green Bay Packers (10-3)

3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)

4. Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

5. Seattle Seahawks (9-4)

6. Detroit Lions (9-4)

In the hunt: Dallas Cowboys (9-4); San Francisco 49ers (7-6).

After losing two straight, the Cardinals got back on track with a 17-14 win over the Chiefs, giving the Cardinals possession of the NFC's No. 1 seed for another week. Arizona  maintains No. 1 over the Packers by virtue of their better in-conference record.

Resurgent Seahawks collect another statement win; more Week 14 Snaps

Philadelphia and Dallas finish the week with matching 9-4 records, with the Eagles' Week 13 win over the Cowboys giving Chip Kelly's squad the head-to-head edge. Dallas will look to even the season series when the teams meet in Philly on Sunday Night Football in Week 15.

Winners of three straight, the Seahawks probably have the inside track on the NFC West title. Seahawks-Cardinals in Arizona in Week 16 will go a long way in determining that division, with Seattle currently holding the head-to-head edge over Arizona.

With one of the easiest remaining schedules, the Lions could rise as high as No. 2 in the conference. Detroit faces Minnesota and travels to Chicago before a crucial Week 17 showdown with the Packers at Lambeau Field.

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