AROUND THE NFL

NFL Playoffs Outlook: Who’s In, Who’s on the Edge

Photo Courtesy Of "Philadelphia Inquirer"

It is Week 16 of the NFL season, and that means the postseason is right around the corner. A few teams have clinched, while a few others need to win this week (with some additional help) to keep their hopes for January alive.

As far as teams that are in, the AFC has its division winners: The New England Patriots, who won the AFC East for the 11th year in a row, the Baltimore Ravens, who have earned the to spot in the NFL behind MVP-caliber play from Lamar Jackson and a strong defense, the Houston Texans, who clinched last night with a close 23-20 game last night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Kansas City Chiefs, who have won four straight games after being tied with the Oakland Raiders atop the AFC West at 6-4.

The Buffalo Bills, enjoying a 10-5 season so far, have clinched a Wild Card spot in the crowded AFC. Fighting for the sixth spot are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and, believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns. If the Pittsburgh or Tennessee want to eliminate Cleveland, they simply just have to win today, as both the Steelers and the Titans are 8-6, and the Browns are 6-8. If the Browns want to earn that spot, they have to win out, combined with their two AFC foes losing out.

In the NFC, three out of four divisions have already clinched, and the two Wild Card spots have been clinched. As of now, the San Francisco 49ers have the top spot in the NFC with a 12-3 record, and were boosted from the five-spot with a 34-31 win against the Los Angeles Rams last night. Right behind them is the 11-3 Green Bay Packers, who have flourished under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, and the 11-3 New Orleans Saints, the NFC South Champions, who continue to be led by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. The 11-3 Seahawks have the first Wild Card spot as of now (they could swap with the 49ers if they beat the Arizona Cardinals today), and the Minnesota Vikings have the second.

The one division that is still up for grabs is the NFC East. The division likely comes down to today’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. If the Cowboys win, they’re in. If the Eagles win, their chances would be that much great to make it (they would have to win the following week, too, or have the Cowboys lose). If the Eagles made it, Carson Went would likely be available for his first-ever playoff run. If the Cowboys made it, Jason Garrett’s seat would likely be cooled.

The games to keep an eye on today are Ravens-Browns, Steelers-Jets, Saints-Titans, and Cowboys-Eagles. Also make sure to tune into tomorrow night’s contest between the Packers and Vikings.

Week 16. The playoffs are almost here. Football fans are in for a treat today.

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