The NFC North took on a whole new look after Sunday’s action. Thanks to the 49ers handling the Packers in emphatic fashion on Sunday evening, the Packers dropped down to the third seed and are way behind the 8 ball in terms of trying to secure the top overall seed in the NFC, or even a first-round bye.
More importantly, Green Bay has to worry about Minnesota lurking. The Vikings, who are hot and coming off a bye, will head to Seattle to play the Seahawks in primetime (Kirk Cousins vs. Russell Wilson on a big stage, what could possibly go wrong!?). The Packers get a reprieve, but have to head across the country to play the woeful Giants.
The two teams won’t meet again until Week 16, but there is a very good chance the division title will be at stake when they do.
Aaron Rodgers might do well to ask Jon Gruden and Derek Carr about the dangers of a trip to New Jersey. The Raiders were pounding on the door of the playoffs and just went to East Rutherford and got dominated by the Jets. The Raiders are still in the hunt, but that no-show effort was concerning, especially with a matchup against the Chiefs coming next week. There are too many decent-to-good teams in the AFC to mess around and give away a game.
If Oakland doesn’t put together a good performance in the next couple of weeks, it could see it’s playoff hopes slip away.
Take a look at the 2019 NFL Playoff Picture here and in the graphic below:
AFC: Who’s in
1. New England Patriots (10-1)
The Patriots took care of business against the Cowboys at home on Sunday afternoon in sloppy conditions, inching closer and closer to securing the AFC East title and the No. 1 seed. Buffalo is still hanging around, but the Patriots appear in pretty good shape to get ready for another deep January run, even though the offense has not been entirely prolific in recent weeks.
2. Baltimore Ravens (8-2)
The Ravens are playing the Rams on Monday night in Los Angeles.
3. Houston Texans (7-4)
The Texans sneaked by the Colts on Thursday night, giving themselves a very good chance of being able to win the AFC South. A loss might have relegated them to second place but now they’re absolutely in pole position to win the division, and they control their own destiny. They have the tiebreaker over the Chiefs by virtue of their head-to-head win.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
The Chiefs are on bye this week but got good news in the form of the Raiders losing in New Jersey. They need to have a better record than the Texans to jump them in the standings due to a head-to-head loss.
5. Buffalo Bills (8-3)
The Bills beat up on another bad football team Sunday, dispatching the Broncos at home 20-3. If you were flipping back and forth on that game, you could have missed Denver ever possessing the ball. The Bills are now two games clear of everyone else for a wild card, so they should be able to make the playoffs, though they face a brutal schedule over the next four weeks (at Cowboys, vs. Ravens, at Steelers, at Patriots).
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
Hard to believe, but the Steelers are still very much a playoff team, even if their 16-10 win over the lowly Bengals was hardly impressive. Pittsburgh’s got Cleveland and Cincy next, so they can still keep trying to make a run here despite their offensive woes. The Raiders and Steelers are ahead of the Colts based on a head-to-head sweep, and the Pittsburgh has a better conference record (5-3) than the Raiders (4-3).
AFC: Who’s out
7. Oakland Raiders (6-5): Tough loss in a lookahead spot for the Raiders. They needed to win that game against the Jets if they want to make a legitimate playoff push. Still, they’re right there in the wild card and, technically, the division. Oakland and Pittsburgh are ahead of the Colts based on the head-to-head sweep, and the Raiders are behind the Steelers based on conference record.
8. Indianapolis Colts (6-5): The Colts lost to the Texans on Thursday night and it really hurt their playoff chances, throwing them into the mix with a pile of other AFC contenders for a wild card. They can still win the division, but it’s an uphill battle. The wild card is more likely, but they need some help there too. They’re behind the Raiders and Steelers based on the head-to-head sweep and are ahead of the Titans based on their 1-0 head-to-head record.
9. Tennessee Titans (6-5): The Titans throttled the Jaguars behind a huge Derrick Henry game on Sunday and kept breathing life into their playoff hopes. They’ve got work to do in terms of the tiebreaker though, and will need to beat the Colts in their next head to head matchup after losing the first.
10. Cleveland Browns (5-6): Don’t count out the Browns! They blasted the Dolphins and now have the Steelers next, with a pair of games against the Bengals looming as well. Cleveland probably needs to win out and can only really afford one more loss to legitimately make the postseason.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7): Once again, Derrick Henry may have finished off the Jags season. Jacksonville is only two games out of the playoffs but it feels like things are slipping away quickly. The Jags win the tiebreaker based on their conference record (4-5) over the Chargers (2-6) and Jets (1-6).
12. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7): The Bolts had another divisional shot in prime time to steal a win and save their season before this week’s bye and couldn’t do it, again. The Chargers are just two games out of the playoffs, but come on. They’re behind the Jags and ahead of the Jets based on their 2-6 conference record.
13. New York Jets (4-7): The Jets have blasted three questionable defenses over the last three weeks, but Sam Darnold has looked exceptional during this stretch of football. They’re just two games back but it feels like a little much to overcome, even with their schedule. They’re behind the Jags and Chargers based on conference record.
14. Denver Broncos (3-8): The Broncos offense continues to disappoint, scoring just three points against Buffalo in back-to-back road losses.
15. Miami Dolphins (2-9): The coverhorse frisky Dolphins disappeared over the last two weeks as Miami’s been blitzed by the Bills and Browns in consecutive games.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (0-11)
NFC: Who’s in
1. San Francisco 49ers (10-1)
The 49ers flexed their muscles on the Packers Sunday night at home in prime time, leaving no doubt who the top team in the NFC is. We’ve questioned them for stretches, but they have some really big wins. They’ll get the Ravens next in a very spicy matchup.
2. New Orleans Saints (9-2)
The Saints pulled out a miracle over the Panthers on Sunday, but a win is a win when you’re chasing a one-loss team. The Saints have stumbled a little bit the last few weeks after a scorching October, but we know this is a complete team. If they get homefield advantage, they’re going to be tough to deal with.
3. Green Bay Packers (8-3)
Yikes. The Packers got embarrassed on Sunday night by the 49ers. Now they tuck tail and head back from California with another ugly L in that state. The good news is the Packers still hold the tiebreaker over the Vikings for the NFC North. The bad news is they’re probably toast when it comes to chasing the top seed and getting homefield advantage.
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-5)
Jerry Jones is mad after his team lost, which isn’t surprising, but it is crazy considering the Cowboys are in first place! They hold a tiebreaker over the Eagles, but they look locked into the fourth seed, assuming they hold onto the division.
5. Seattle Seahawks (9-2)
Big time road win on the East Coast for the Seahawks over the Eagles. They’re now in a great position to secure a wild card spot at minimum and can knock the competition back a bit when the Vikings come to town. More importantly, they’re not dead when it comes to chasing the 49ers. They currently have the tiebreaker over them by virtue of their head-to-head matchup.
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-3)
Minnesota was on bye this week but things worked out pretty well for them with Green Bay losing.
NFC: Who’s out
7. Los Angeles Rams (6-4): The Rams play the Ravens Monday night in a must-win game.
8. Chicago Bears (5-6): The Bears won against the Giants, but it felt like more of a last-gasp effort than anything else. The NFC is just too tough this year to make a run if you’re below .500. They win the tiebreaker by virtue of their conference record (4-4) over the Eagles (3-5) and Panthers (2-6).
9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6): The Eagles are reeling and somehow still right in the playoff hunt because the Cowboys refuse to take advantage of their division. Philadelphia gets the Dolphins next and will probably have a shot to even things up with Dallas with a win at home.
10. Carolina Panthers (5-6): The Panthers’ season probably died with a Joey Slye missed chip shot. They’re behind the Bears and Eagles based on their conference record and are too far back to catch the Saints at this point.
12. Detroit Lions (3-7-1): The Lions lost to the Redskins. Yikes. They host the Bears next on Thanksgiving. Get your naps ready. They have a tiebreaker win by virtue of conference record (2-5-1) over the Cardinals (2-6-1).
13. Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1): The Cardinals are on bye this week.
14. Atlanta Falcons (3-8): Disastrous come back to Earth by Atlanta.
15. New York Giants (2-9): The Giants managed to cover in rather annoying fashion against the Bears. They have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Redskins.
16. Washington Redskins (2-9): The Redskins won! They probably can’t get the No. 1 pick now though.