Week 14 is here, leaving only a month in the 2020 NFL regular season. Every win is more important in trying to lock down division titles or wild-card berths to get into the playoffs, while every loss will further dash those hopes.
The postseason field expanding by one team each in the AFC and the NFC to a total of 14 has made more things interesting for the final four games. Based on the current standings, here’s an updated look at what each conference tournament would look like if the playoffs started now:
NFL standings for Week 14
AFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1), first place, AFC North. The Steelers lost in shocking fashion to Washington at home in Week 13 to dash their hopes of a perfect season. They still lead the Browns by two games in the division and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. They also still lead the Chiefs for the top seed by virtue of their 8-0 conference record. The Steelers will clinch a playoff berth with a win or a Ravens, Raiders or Titans loss in Week 14. They would win the division with a win a Browns loss. Remaining schedule: at BUF, at CIN, vs. IND, at CLE
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs will keep putting pressure on the Steelers with the unbeatable way in which Patrick Mahomes is playing. They clinched a playoff berth with their win over the Broncos in Week 13 and can clinch another division title with a win or Raiders loss in Week 14. Remaining schedule: at MIA, at NO, vs. ATL, vs. LAC
3. Buffalo Bills (9-3), first place, AFC East. The Bills hold only a one-game-plus-tiebreaker division lead over the Dolphins, whom they beat on the road in Week 2. They have lost to the Titans and must play the Steelers in Week 14. They still need to play the Patriots and Dolphins as they try to win their first East title since 1995. The Bills would clinch a playoff berth with a win and losses by the Ravens, Dolphins, Raiders and Patriots. Remaining schedule: vs. PIT, at DEN, at NE, vs. MIA
4. Tennessee Titans (8-4), first place, AFC South. The Titans are a longer shot to move up to catch the Chiefs, whom they don’t play, and they have already lost to the Steelers. They do have a key win over the Bills but failed to beat the Browns in Week 13 to solidify their playoff position. They now hold a slim division-record tiebreaker over the Colts. Remaining schedule: at JAX, vs. DET, at GB, at HOU
5. Cleveland Browns (9-3), second place, AFC North. The Browns hold the top wild-card spot by a full game over the Dolphins and Colts. They beat the Colts but lost to the Raiders. The division is out of reach but they will be good to make the playoffs with a win over the Titans or Ravens in the next two weeks. Remaining schedule: vs. BAL, at NYG, at NYJ, vs. PIT
6. Miami Dolphins (8-4), second place, AFC East. The Dolphins have this second wild-card spot over the Colts because their conference record (5-3) is one game better. They got past the Bengals at home, but they have a tough slate ahead outside the division with the Chiefs in Week 14 and Raiders in Week 16. Remaining schedule: vs KC. vs. NE, at LV, at BUF
7. Indianapolis Colts (8-4), second place, AFC South. The biggest thing for the Colts is winning their “winnable” games, knowing they have tough road games left against the Raiders and Steelers. Their losses to the Browns and Ravens already hurt, so beating the Texans in their first meeting was huge. That got them into a virtual tie with the Titans, with whom they split. Remaining schedule: at LV, vs. HOU, at PIT, vs JAX
Who can get there?
8. Las Vegas Raiders (7-5)
9. Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
The Raiders have the better position here because they survived against the Jets; they’re 5-3 in the conference and the Ravens will stay 4-5 through Week 13. The Ravens have the more favorable schedule, with the Browns on the road in Week 14 being by far their toughest game. The Raiders do get direct shots at home against the Colts in Week 14 and Dolphins in Week 16.
Who’s likely out?
10. New England Patriots (6-6)
11. Denver Broncos (4-8)
12. Houston Texans (4-8)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (3-9)
14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11)
16. New York Jets (0-12)
The Patriots are too inconsistent to consider them getting back into the wild-card race, which they still trail by two games. The Broncos and Texans are doing better than expected of late, but it’s more thinking about next year for both teams. The Chargers can think about what could have been with all their close losses. The Bengals were done when Joe Burrow went down in Week 11. The Jaguars and Jets are battling for the top draft pick, and both lost in devastating late fashion in Week 13 to maintain the draft order.
NFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. New Orleans Saints (10-2), first place, NFC South. The Saints have a one-game lead over the Packers for the top seed and can back it up with an 8-1 conference record. They need to finish ahead of the Packers, to whom they lost at home in Week 3. Other than Week 14 against the Chiefs, their finishing slate is favorable. The Saints clinched a playoff berth with their win and the Bears’ loss in Week 13. They will clinch another South title with a win or Buccaneers loss. Remaining schedule: at PHI, vs. KC, vs. MIN, at CAR
2. Green Bay Packers (9-3), first place, NFC North. The Packers also have one really tough game left, vs. the Titans at home in Week 16. But they now have a comfortable three-game lead in the division over the Vikings. The top seed looks like it might come down to the wire. They jumped the losing Seahawks and winning Rams with their win over their Eagles. The Packers would clinch a playoff spot in Week 14 with a win and a Cardinals or Rams loss or a Seahawks win. Remaining schedule: at DET, vs. CAR, vs. TEN, at CHI
3. Los Angeles Rams (8-4), first place, NFC West. The Rams got back into first by beating the Cardinals while the Seahawks were upset by the Giants. The Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker because of their Week 10 victory over the Seahawks. They play the Seahawks and Cardinals for a second time each to close the season. Remaining schedule: vs. NE, vs. NYJ, at SEA, vs. ARI
4. New York Giants (5-7), first place, NFC East. The Giants will stay here after Week 13 after winning in Seattle minus Daniel Jones. They gained another game on the Eagles, and both Washington, whom they beat twice, and the Cowboys, to whom they lost, have brutal matchups against AFC North foes to close the week. The Giants still have a tough closing stretch, however, even after upsetting the Seahawks. Remaining schedule: vs. ARI, vs CLE, at BAL, vs. DAL
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4), second place, NFC West. The Seahawks dropped here after losing to the Giants at home in stunning, low-scoring fashion. They get the other New York team for a get-well game, before Washington and a second shot at the Rams. The division may come down to the Week 16 game. The top or second wild-card still seems secure. Remaining schedule: vs. NYJ, at WSH, vs. LAR, at SF
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) second place, NFC South. After their bye in Week 13, the Bucs know it is near impossible to win South, down three games and a head-to-head tiebreaker to the Saints with only four games left. They just need to focus on staying ahead of the Vikings, whom they play this week week. Remaining schedule: vs. MIN, at ATL, at DET, vs. ATL
7. Minnesota Vikings (6-6), second place, NFC North. The Vikings jumped here with their overtime win over the Jaguars coupled with the Cardinals losing at home to the Rams. They barely own the common-games tiebreaker, but it’s good enough to put them back on track to return to the playoffs. They have two favorable division games left, but they’re balanced by tricky trips to Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Remaining schedule: at TB, vs CHI, at NO, at DET
Who can get there?
8. Arizona Cardinals (6-6)
9. Chicago Bears (5-7)
11. San Francisco 49ers (5-7)
12. Washington Football Team (5-7)
The Cardinals were humbled again, losing their third straight game to the Rams, to fall out of playoff position into a distant third in the NFC West. The 49ers don’t play the Vikings but get the Cardinals, to whom they lost, for a second time in Week 16. Washington has a brutal schedule in trying to win the East but the Steelers win is a huge help in keeping pace with the Giants.
Who’s likely out?
10. Detroit Lions (5-7)
13. Atlanta Falcons (4-8)
14. Carolina Panthers (4-8)
15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1)
16. Dallas Cowboys (3-9)
The Lions and Falcons are down here after both firing their coaches during the season. The Panthers had a bye to rest up before finishing a rebuilding season. The Eagles and Cowboys need to somehow start playing well just to save some face at this point with the division hopes fading.