Week 15 of the NFL season is underway. The Seattle Seahawks not only solidified their hold on the NFC's No. 3 seed by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 24-3 on Thursday night but they clinched the NFC West and moved ever closer to the somehow suddenly vulnerable Dallas Cowboys in the race for the No. 1 seed.
On Saturday night, the Dolphins beat the Jets, 34-13, and in the process jumped ahead of the Broncos for the final wild card spot in the AFC. But that's only because they've played one more game than the Broncos. The Dolphins are now 9-5 while the Broncos are 8-5. Denver hosts New England on Sunday.
Here's how the rest of the NFL playoff picture looks, as well as a snapshot of some games that could impact what it looks like after Week 15 and beyond.
AFC: Who's in
1. New England Patriots (11-2)
The Patriots have yet another marquee game this week as they head to Denver to take on the Broncos. The Pats control their own destiny for the No. 1 seed and home field throughout the AFC playoffs, but a loss this week could leave them vulnerable.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
The Chiefs came up with a big win last Thursday to take control of the AFC West. They have as good a shot as anyone of unseating the Patriots for the No. 1 seed, but a matchup with the Broncos looms after this week's tussle with the Titans.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
Pittsburgh has once again wrested the AFC North lead away from the Ravens thanks to last week's stomping of the Bills and Baltimore's loss. The Steelers play the Bengals in the Vontaze Burfict Bowl this week, but this Cincy team is not the one Pittsburgh thought it would see when the season started.
4. Houston Texans (7-6)
The Texans still somehow have control of the AFC South. How they've managed to keep it this long makes no sense. They play the Jaguars this week and will probably somehow manage to still be leading the division by the time Sunday is over.
5. Oakland Raiders (10-3)
Oakland's loss to Kansas City knocked the Raiders back in the race for a bye but its playoff spot appears fairly safe. The Raiders square off with the Chargers in San Diego this week.
6. Miami Dolphins (9-5)
The Dolphins beat the Jets on Saturday night -- thanks to Matt Moore's four touchdown passes -- to take a lead for the final wild-card spot. But the Broncos can take it back by beating the Patriots on Sunday.
AFC: Who's out
- No. 7 Denver Broncos (8-5)
- No. 8 Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
- No. 9 Tennessee Titans (7-6)
- No. 10 Indianapolis Colts (6-7)
- No. 11 Buffalo Bills (6-6)
- No. 12 Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)
- No. 13 San Diego Chargers (5-7)
- No. 14 New York Jets (4-10)
- No. 15 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)
- No. 16 Cleveland Browns (0-13)
NFC: Who's in
1. (x) Dallas Cowboys (11-2)
The Cowboys play their second straight Sunday Night Football game this week, welcoming the Buccaneers to Jerry World. They still have the inside track on the No. 1 seed and they can clinch the division with a win and a Giants loss.
2. Detroit Lions (9-4)
The Lions head to New York to take on the Giants in one of Sunday's most important games. They have a two-game lead in the NFC North, but need a win here to keep pace with the Seahawks and stay in front of Atlanta.
3. (xy) Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)
The Seahawks, as is their custom, let the Rams play them close for a while. This time, they eventually blew the game open to come away with the victory.
4. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
One of the few playoff teams with a gimme game this week, the Falcons welcome the 49ers to the Georgia Dome, and they should roll.
5. New York Giants (9-4)
Fresh off a huge victory over the Cowboys, the Giants will attempt to shut down yet another MVP candidate in Matthew Stafford. A win would keep the Giants alive in the NFC East race for at least another week.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
NFC: Who's out
- No. 7 Washington Redskins (7-5-1)
- No. 8 Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
- No. 9 Green Bay Packers (7-6)
- No. 10 Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1)
- No. 11 New Orleans Saints (5-8)
- No. 12 Carolina Panthers (5-8)
- No. 13 Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)
- No. 14 Los Angeles Rams (4-10)
- No. 15 Chicago Bears (3-10)
- No. 16 San Francisco 49ers (1-12)
x - clinched playoff berth, y - denotes division winner
Games to watch in Week 15
The rest of Week 15 features three games where both teams are currently in playoff position heading into the contest.
Lions at Giants
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET, TV: Fox
How it affects the standings: Both teams enter this game at 9-4, with the Lions leading the NFC North and the Giants occupying the top wild-card spot in the NFC. Detroit now has a two-game lead over the Vikings and Packers in the division and can put it in the bank if it wins and those teams lose. The Giants still have a hope of winning the NFC East if Dallas stumbles, but also need a victory to keep control of their lead for the No. 5 slot.
Patriots at Broncos
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET, TV: CBS
How it affects the standings: New England is still locked in a battle for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. If the Pats keep winning, they'll be playing all home games in the postseason. The Broncos moved back into playoff position and can stay there if they keep winning as well. The Dolphins, Ravens and Titans are all threats to their hold on the No. 6 seed, so they have some work to do over the final three weeks of the year.
Buccaneers at Cowboys
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET, TV: NBC
How it affects the standings: The Bucs are behind the Falcons in the NFC South based on the tiebreaker but can pull ahead if Atlanta stumbles. They also currently have a hold of the No. 6 seed in the NFC, just ahead of Washington, Minnesota and Green Bay. Dallas was joined by the Seahawks as the only NFC teams to clinch playoff spots, and it can clinch a division title and a bye with another win and a Giants loss.
Week 14 features two additional games where both teams are at least within one game of a playoff spot heading into the contest.
Titans at Chiefs
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET, TV: CBS
How it affects the standings: Tennessee is behind the Texans in the AFC South by virtue of a tiebreaker, and also sits a game back of Denver in the wild-card race. Unless the Texans also lose, the Titans really can't afford to fall to 7-7. Kansas City, meanwhile, now has control of the AFC West and the inside track on the No. 2 seed in the conference, as well as pole position to possibly usurp the No. 1 seed if the Patriots eventually falter.
Colts at Vikings
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET, TV: CBS
How it affects the standings: The Colts are somehow one game back in the decrepit AFC South. The less said about that division, the better. Minnesota has fallen two games behind the Lions and needs to finish with a better record than Detroit in order to win the division because it lost to the Lions twice. The Vikings' chances there are dwindling, but they're still just a game behind Tampa for a wild-card spot.
A few other games, like Dolphins at Jets (8:25 p.m., Saturday), Packers at Bears (1 p.m.), Eagles at Ravens (1 p.m.) and Panthers at Redskins (8:30 p.m., Monday) feature either two teams within shouting distance of a playoff spot or one team that could conceivably be knocked too far out of the picture to reasonably come back by the end of the season, pending results of other games.
Week 15 schedule*
- Green Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m.
- Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.
- Cleveland at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
- Philadelphia at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
- Tennessee at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
- Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.
- Indianapolis at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
- Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
- New Orleans at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
- San Francisco at Atlanta, 4:05 p.m.
- New England at Denver, 4:25 p.m.
- Oakland at San Diego, 4:25 p.m.
- Tampa Bay at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
- Carolina at Washington, 8:30 p.m.
* All times Eastern