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How the NFL playoff picture looks coming out of Week 15

The NFL is wrapping up Week 15, and a few teams are standing out in the playoff picture heading into Week 16.

Tee Higgins #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts after a play in the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Paycor Stadium on December 16, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images

The NFL has less than a month remaining and Week 15 is providing some notable movement in the playoff race. This week marked the first of three straight weeks of Saturday football on the slate, with three games ahead of the main Sunday slate.

All three Saturday games featured teams sitting above .500 entering the day. The Bengals made the biggest move, climbing into the second wild card berth thanks to a win and a Steelers loss. The Lions firmed up their playoff position, beating the Broncos to move three games up on the Vikings, who lost to the Bengals in overtime.

On Sunday in the early window, the Bucs and Saints won while the Falcons lost, which drops Atlanta a game back in that cluster of teams. The Saints beat a previously surging Giants squad while the Bucs beat the Packers to hurt those two teams’ playoff chances. The Falcons loss means the Cowboys clinched a playoff berth. In the AFC, the Dolphins crushed the Jets to move a half game back of the Ravens, pending Baltimore’s SNF game against the Jaguars.

The Week 16 schedule opens with effectively an elimination game between the Saints and Rams on Thursday Night Football. Saturday brings a huge Bengals-Steelers matchup. Christmas Eve will see Lions-Vikings, Browns-Texans, and Cowboys-Dolphins highlighting matchups with key playoff implications. The week wraps with a Christmas tripleheader that closes with the 49ers hosting the Ravens in a possible Super Bowl preview.

Here’s a look at what the playoff picture looks like as the NFL works its way through Week 15.

AFC playoff picture

1. Baltimore Ravens, 11-3 — clinched playoff berth
2. Miami Dolphins, 10-4
3. Kansas City Chiefs, 9-5
4. Jacksonville Jaguars, 8-6

5. Cleveland Browns, 9-5
6. Cincinnati Bengals, 8-6
7. Indianapolis Colts, 8-6

8. Houston Texans, 8-6
9. Buffalo Bills, 8-6
10. Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-7
11. Denver Broncos, 7-7
12. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-8
13. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-9
14. Tennessee Titans, 5-9 — eliminated
15. New York Jets, 5-9 — eliminated
16. New England Patriots, 3-11 — eliminated

NFC playoff picture

1. San Francisco 49ers, 11-3 — clinched NFC West
2. Dallas Cowboys, 10-4 — clinched playoff berth
3. Detroit Lions, 10-4
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7-7

5. Philadelphia Eagles, 10-4 — clinched playoff berth
6. Minnesota Vikings, 7-7
7. Los Angeles Rams, 7-7

8. Seattle Seahawks, 7-7
9. New Orleans Saints, 7-7
10. Atlanta Falcons, 6-8
11. Green Bay Packers, 6-8
12. New York Giants, 5-9
13. Chicago Bears, 5-9
14. Washington Commanders, 4-10 — eliminated
15. Arizona Cardinals, 3-11 — eliminated
16. Carolina Panthers, 2-12 — eliminated