NFL playoff standings: Clinching scenarios for Week 15

Five teams had the opportunity to punch their playoff tickets last week, but only the Steelers and Eagles did. Four more teams can join the state of Pennsylvania in the postseason by clinching a spot in Week 15.

The Vikings, Rams, and Jaguars can end postseason droughts, long and short, with victories Sunday — and in Los Angeles’ case, a little outside help. For the Patriots, a win against the Steelers would not only secure a ninth straight AFC East title but put the club back in the driver’s seat in the race for home-field advantage in the conference.

Other winning teams like the Panthers, Saints, Falcons, and Seahawks will have to wait at least one more week before making January travel plans. Here’s how six teams can either qualify for the playoffs or improve their postseason standings this weekend.

Who’s in the NFL playoffs 2018 right now, and how did they get there?

The Eagles completed a worst-to-first story by clinching the NFC East title with last week’s victory over the Rams, but it came at a price. Philadelphia lost MVP candidate Carson Wentz to a torn ACL and now will have to turn to Nick Foles at quarterback through the rest of the season and the playoffs. For what it’s worth, Foles is 3-0 over the past two seasons in games where he’s thrown at least 10 passes.

Philly is joined in the clinch club by its in-state, cross-league rival. The Steelers earned the AFC North crown by virtue of a come-from-behind win last Sunday night over the Ravens. Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in league history to throw for 500-plus yards in three different games, and Antonio Brown kept his MVP pace on target as Pittsburgh came back from a 38-29 deficit with 3:30 to play and stun its biggest rival. That marked the Steelers’ third division title in the past four seasons.

What’s next for the teams that are already in?

Even though the Steelers and Eagles are already playoff-bound, they’ve still got plenty to play for. Each team has the higher ground is in its conference’s battle for home-field advantage — and each can ensure the road to the Super Bowl runs through its city this weekend.

Pittsburgh Steelers clinch homefield advantage with:

  • a win over the Patriots AND a Jaguars loss/tie vs. the Texans

Pittsburgh Steelers clinch a first-round bye with:

  • a win over the Patriots OR
  • a tie against the Patriots AND a Jaguars loss to the Texans

Philadelphia Eagles clinch homefield advantage with:

  • a win over the Giants AND a Vikings loss to the Bengals

Philadelphia Eagles clinch a first-round bye with:

  • a win over the Giants OR
  • a tie against the Giants AND a Rams loss/tie against the Seahawks AND a Saints loss/tie against the Jets AND a Panthers loss/tie against the Packers

OK, so who can get in with a win this week?

Three teams control their own destiny when it comes to locking down a playoff spot Sunday. The Patriots wasted last week’s opportunity to clinch when they lost to the Dolphins on Monday night. But they can still lock down the AFC East title with a win — any win. The Vikings are in a similar position; one victory (or tie) makes them NFC North champs for the second time in three years.

The Jaguars can’t clinch a division title yet, but beating the punchless Texans would end a 10-year playoff drought in Jacksonville. Here are all the ways those three teams can punch their postseason dance tickets this weekend.

New England Patriots clinch the AFC East title with:

  • a win/tie against the Steelers OR
  • a Bills loss/tie against the Dolphins

New England Patriots clinch a playoff spot with:

  • a Ravens loss/tie against the Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars clinch a playoff spot with:

  • a win over the Texans OR
  • a tie against the Texans AND a Bills loss/tie against the Dolphins OR
  • a tie against the Texans AND a Ravens loss/tie against the Browns OR
  • a Bills loss to the Dolphins AND a Ravens loss to the Browns OR
  • a Ravens loss to the Browns AND the Chiefs-Chargers game doesn’t end in a tie (Update: No tie. The Chiefs won, 30-13.)

Minnesota Vikings clinch the NFC North title with:

  • a win/tie against the Bengals OR
  • a Lions loss/tie against the Bears AND a Packers loss/tie against the Panthers

Minnesota Vikings clinch a playoff spot with:

  • a Seahawks loss to the Rams AND a Falcons loss to the Buccaneers AND a Saints loss to the Jets OR
  • a Seahawks loss to the Rams AND a Falcons loss to the Buccaneers AND a Panthers loss to the Packers OR
  • a Seahawks loss to the Rams AND a Falcons loss to the Buccaneers AND a Lions loss/tie against the Bears OR
  • a Seahawks loss to the Rams AND a Falcons tie against the Buccaneers AND a Saints loss to the Jets AND a Lions loss/tie against the Bears OR
  • a Seahawks loss to the Rams AND a Falcons tie against the Buccaneers AND a Saints loss to the Jets AND Panthers loss to the Packers

Who can get in but needs more help?

The Rams can end a 13-year playoff drought in Week 15, but hoooo boy they’re gonna need some help.

Update: Thanks to the Lions’ 20-10 win over the Bears, the Rams can’t clinch this week.

Los Angeles Rams clinch a playoff spot with:

  • a win over the Seahawks AND a Lions loss/tie against the Bears AND a Packers loss/tie against the Panthers AND a Saints loss to the Jets AND a Falcons loss to the Buccaneers

Who’s in if the season ended today?

Here’s what the standings look like heading into Week 15:

AFC:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Tennessee Titans
  6. Buffalo Bills

NFC:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. New Orleans Saints
  5. Carolina Panthers
  6. Atlanta Falcons

Source : SBNation.com

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