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What Week 14 means for the 2020 NFL playoff picture

The playoff race continues to heat up as we move into the holiday season. We break down the implications of the Week 14 schedule.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees gestures before the play against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday Night Football update

The Seahawks lost 28-12 to the Rams. This moves the Seahawks down from the two seed to the five seed and moves the 49ers into the No. 1 seed. The Rams remain one game back of the Vikings for the second wild card berth.

4:25 p.m. game update

The Chiefs went on the road and upset the Patriots to improve to 9-4 and take over third in the AFC. The Patriots dropped to 10-3 and are one game up on the Chiefs and Bills. The Titans thumped the Raiders to improve to 8-5 and move into a tie atop the AFC South. The Steelers beat the Cardinals to remain in the second wild card spot.

1:00 p.m. game update

We had a wild first half of Sunday’s football schedule. The Broncos thumped the Texans putting Houston in danger of falling into a tie atop the AFC South. The 49ers won an insane won over the Saints to move into first place pending the outcome of Seahawks-Rams. The Ravens held off the Bills to retain their lead in the AFC. The Colts were stunned late by the Bucs to fall to 6-7 and likely end their playoff chances.

Welcome to Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season! The Chicago Bears got a big win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football to open the week. The Bears are playoff longshots, while the Cowboys have a legit shot at winning the NFC East with a .500 or worse record.

We’ve got four weeks remaining on the regular season schedule and the playoff race is in high gear now that we’re in December. The New Orleans Saints clinched a playoff berth in Week 13, but the 49ers and Patriots came up short. Both have a shot again this week, although the 49ers will need some help. Additionally, the Ravens, Bills, Chiefs, and Seahawks all have a chance to clinch a playoff berth.

Games of the Week

49ers at Saints: This is a huge one for both teams. The 49ers need to maintain pace with the Seahawks in the NFC West, while the Saints need a win to maintain their chances at the No. 1 seed in the conference.

Ravens @ Bills: The Ravens have moved into the top seed and hold the tiebreaker edge over the Patriots. The Bills still have a shot at winning the AFC East, but even if they don’t, they can just about sew up the top wild card berth with a win.

Chiefs @ Patriots: The Chiefs could further open the door for a first round bye with a win, cutting the Patriots lead to one game. New England needs a win to maintain pace with the Ravens, but also to keep the Bills behind them in the AFC East.

“Elimination” games

The Panthers, Buccaneers, Washington, Jets, Jaguars, Broncos, and Chargers can all be eliminated from playoff contention with a mix of losses. There are a host of other games featuring teams badly in need of a win. Losing won’t eliminate certain teams, but they are still quasi-elimination games.

The Raiders host the Titans in a game that will make life difficult for one or both teams. If the Titans win, the Raiders are effectively finished as a playoff contender. If the Raiders win, they would move into a tie with the Titans and the status of both teams would depend on how the Steelers fare against the Cardinals. And let’s not forget the 6-6 Colts, who need a win to hang around this group.

On the NFC side, the Rams badly need a win to hang around the wild card race. If LA bears Seattle, they would cut the Vikings lead to one game with three remaining. If LA loses, they drop to two games back with three to go. This is a make-or-break week for the Rams.

Below is a rundown of the NFL playoff picture and who the top six seeds in each of the conferences face. It’s followed by some of the notable matchups between playoff contenders.

AFC playoff picture

1. Baltimore Ravens: 10-2 — @ Bills
2. New England Patriots: 10-2 — vs. Chiefs
3. Houston Texans: 8-4 — vs. Broncos
4. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-4 — @ Patriots
5. Buffalo Bills: 9-3 — vs. Ravens
6. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-5 — @ Cardinals

In the hunt: Tennessee Titans (7-5), Oakland Raiders (6-6), Indianapolis Colts (6-6), Cleveland Browns (5-7)

Ravens (10-2) @ Bills (9-3)
Titans (7-5) @ Raiders (6-6)
Chiefs (8-4) @ Patriots (10-2)

NFC playoff picture

1. New Orleans Saints: 10-2 — vs. 49ers
2. Seattle Seahawks: 10-2 — @ Rams
3. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 — vs. Washington
4. Dallas Cowboys: 6-7 — lost to Bears 31-24
5. San Francisco 49ers: 10-2 — @ Saints
6. Minnesota Vikings: 8-4 — vs. Lions

In the hunt: Los Angeles Rams (7-5), Chicago Bears (7-6), Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

49ers (10-2) @ Saints (10-2)
Seahawks (10-2) @ Rams (7-5)