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March 3, 2024

Playoff Berths Secured as Balance of Power Shifts in Final Stretch

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Dec 18, 2023

The 2023 NFL playoff picture came into clearer focus in Week 15 as several teams clinched postseason spots while late surges and slumps caused shifts atop divisions and conferences.

Ravens, Eagles Stamp Playoff Tickets

The Baltimore Ravens became the third AFC team to secure a playoff berth with their win over Jacksonville. At 10-5, Baltimore maintains the AFC’s #1 seed as they seek home field advantage.

In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles clinched a playoff spot without even playing, thanks to the 49ers’ win over Arizona. At 13-3 Philly has wrapped up the NFC East.

AFC Playoff Teams NFC Playoff Teams
1. Ravens (10-5) 1. Eagles (13-3)
2. Bills (11-3) 2. 49ers (11-4)
3. Bengals (10-4) 3. Vikings (11-3)
4. Jaguars (6-8) 4. Buccaneers (6-8)
5. Chargers (9-5) 5. Cowboys (10-4)
6. Chiefs (9-5) 6. Giants (8-5-1)
7. Dolphins (8-6) 7. Seahawks (7-7)

Chiefs Grab AFC West Lead

A shocking result saw the Kansas City Chiefs vault into first place in the AFC West, overtaking the faltering Denver Broncos.

many predicted Denver would run away with the division after acquiring Russell Wilson in the offseason. But a loss to the Chiefs dropped the Broncos to 4-10 while Kansas City improved to 9-5.

With two weeks left the Chiefs control their own destiny while the Chargers, also 9-5, hope KC slips up down the stretch.

Titans Try to Salvage Playoffs

Despite recent struggles, the Tennessee Titans (7-7) remarkably still have playoff life in the bunched-up AFC South. Sitting one game behind Jacksonville, the Titans host the Texans in Week 16 needing a win to stay alive.

Tennessee reached the #1 playoff seed last year before bowing out early. Now they’re fighting for their postseason lives as injuries and inconsistent play plagues their season. But running back Derrick Henry offers hope they can defy doubters with a late run.

8 Teams Still Alive in AFC

Aside from the 7 clubs above, the New England Patriots also cling to dim playoff hopes at 7-7. But the Pats likely need to sweep their last two games while needing help leapfrogging multiple teams.

After a down year in 2022, the AFC has seen a resurgence with impressive balance. All 4 division leaders have double-digit wins, and 12 of 16 teams remain alive in Week 16. Despite questions about quality of play, the parity should provide suspense down the stretch.

NFC East Rivals Eye Division, Conference Crowns

The NFC East champion Eagles have a critical Week 16 matchup with the streaking Dallas Cowboys, who became the 6th NFC team to clinch a berth.

The Cowboys have surged to 10-3 on the arm of Tony Pollard while the Eagles hope injured QB Jalen Hurts can return healthy for the postseason. Both have eyes on the NFC’s #1 seed and home field. Philly currently holds the tiebreaker, but a Dallas season sweep could see the ‘Boys swipe the East.

Packers’ Playoff Streak in Peril

After missing the postseason just twice since 2006, the Green Bay Packers are in danger of falling short as they dropped to 6-8 with a loss to Miami.

Now two games behind wild card leaders New York and Seattle with two weeks left, Aaron Rodgers faces long odds to extend his playoff appearance streak to 7 straight seasons.

Surprises Still Possible

Despite improved clarity, the playoff picture remains fluid enough for a late surprise or two. The 7-7 Cleveland Browns still have a shot if they can sweep their final two contests against New Orleans and Pittsburgh.

In a less likely but mathematically possible scenario, the hapless 1-12 Houston Texans could even sneak in with two wins plus a whole lot of help. While a postseason miracle for Houston remains a long shot, crazy comebacks have happened before.

So while the list of contenders has narrowed, nothing is guaranteed yet in this season of surprises. Over the final fortnight the top teams will battle for division titles and postseason seeding while the hopefuls scratch and claw for Wild Card tickets to the tournament.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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