Winner, winner, division dinner. Or something like that.
Late into the 2021 season, we have our first division winner: The Packers locked up the NFC North with a win over the Ravens in Week 15, their third consecutive division crown and their 12th since 2000.
While the Buccaneers had a chance to join the Packers as division champs (NFC South), the Saints had other plans: New Orleans shut out their division rival on Sunday night.
While the NFC West and NFC East are still in limbo, the AFC is a bit worse: There are six teams at or within two games of .500 with the season coming to a close in the next few weeks, and no clear division winners to be decided just yet.
Here’s how things stand entering Week 16:
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NFL playoff picture: AFC projections
- No. 1 seed: Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
Games remaining: vs. Steelers, at Bengals, vs. Broncos
Kansas City’s defensive rebirth pushed them firmly in the mix as one of the AFC’s best entering Week 16. If that’s a frightening thought, consider that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense has yet to really hit their stride as the regular season nears its end.
- No. 2 seed: New England Patriots (9-5)
Games remaining: vs. Bills, vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins
After flirting with the top seed in the AFC, the Patriots fell to the Colts on Thursday Night Football, leading to a very disgruntled Bill Belichick. The Hoodie has to feel happy about where his team stands with the playoffs in sight, though.
- No. 3 seed: Tennessee Titans (9-5)
Game remaining: vs. 49ers, vs. Dolphins, at Texans
The AFC South is still up for grabs for both the Titans and Colts, but Indianapolis has a slightly tougher road the rest of the season. That should be a welcome thought for the sneaky-good Titans.
- No. 4 seed: Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
Games remaining: vs. Ravens, vs. Chiefs, at Browns
The Bengals, once labeled “the best team in the AFC,” are currently the best team in the AFC North. Joe Burrow’s numbers aren’t overly impressive, but he’s in the process of reminding teams why he was the No. 1 overall pick just a year ago.
- No. 5 seed: Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
Games remaining: at Cardinals, vs. Raiders, at Jaguars
MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor is still firing on all cylinders: The running back ran for 170 yards in the Colts’ upset over the Patriots on Thursday night, and helped the Colts keep pace with the Titans in the AFC South.
- No. 6 seed: Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
Games remaining: at Texans, vs. Broncos, at Raiders
The Chargers lost a massive “Thursday Night Football” matchup to the Chiefs and it could play a pivotal role to deciding seeding.
- No. 7 seed: Buffalo Bills (8-6)
Games remaining: at Patriots, vs. Falcons, vs. Jets
The Bills still have a chance to knock off the Patriots atop the AFC East, but will need to finish this season strong — and that starts with a matchup vs. New England in Week 16.
NFL playoff picture: NFC projections
- No. 1 seed: Green Bay Packers (11-3)
Games remaining: vs. Browns, vs. Vikings, at Lions
The Packers benefit from a lighter schedule to end the season, with two home games vs. the Browns and Vikings and away at Detroit. Aaron Rodgers’ toe might not be doing too well, but Green Bay’s Super Bowl hopes are doing just fine — especially after the team secured the NFC North this past weekend.
- No. 2 seed: Dallas Cowboys
Games remaining: vs. Washington Football Team, vs. Cardinals, at Eagles
For all the talk about the Cowboys and Dak Prescott underwhelming, they sit in the No. 2 seed in the NFC with three games left. They also have an opportunity to bury the Cardinals’ hopes as a top seed in Week 17.
- No. 3 seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4)
Games remaining: at Panthers, at Jets, vs. Panthers
The Saints upset Tom Brady and the Bucs on Sunday, keeping the NFC South division winner champagne on ice for at least another week.
- No. 4 seed: Arizona Cardinals (10-4)
Games remaining: vs. Colts, at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks
The Cardinals have a tough road to travel to win the NFC West with games against two playoff hopefuls and a division rival. Arizona’s shots at a top seed in the NFC are looking slimmer and slimmer after being anointed one of the NFC’s best a month ago.
- No. 5 seed: Los Angeles Rams (10-4)
Games remaining: at Vikings, at Ravens, vs. 49ers
Don’t look now, but the Rams and Cardinals are tied atop the NFC West after it looked like Arizona was going to run away with the division. The Cardinals currently hold the edge over LA (division win percentage).
- No. 6 seed: San Francisco 49ers (8-6)
Games remaining: at Titans, vs. Texans, at Rams
San Francisco has come alive after a rough 2-4 start to their season and premature job security questions surrounding head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers’ path to the playoffs isn’t entirely easy, though.
- No. 7 seed: Minnesota Vikings (7-7)
Games remaining: vs. Rams, at Packers, vs. Bears
The Vikings (the Vikings?) currently sit in the seventh and final spot in the NFC. Arguably, they have the best shot of the remaining teams in the mix (Eagles, Saints), though they have two very difficult opponents coming up.
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Current NFL playoff picture
Here’s how the standings in both conferences break down entering Week 15, along with the other teams that are still in the playoff hunt.
|1.||Kansas City Chiefs||10-4||N/a|
|2.||New England Patriots||9-5||N/a|
|6.||Los Angeles Chargers||8-6||N/a|
In the hunt: Baltimore Ravens (8-6), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1), Las Vegas Raiders (7-7), Miami Dolphins (7-7), Cleveland Browns (7-7), Denver Broncos (7-7)
|1.||Green Bay Packers||11-3||Yes. (NFC North Champions)|
|3.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10-4||N/a|
|5.||Los Angeles Rams||10-4||N/a|
|6.||San Francisco 49ers||8-6||N/a|
In the hunt: Philadelphia Eagles (7-7), New Orleans Saints (7-7), Washington Football Team (6-8), Atlanta Falcons (6-8)