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NFL playoff image 2021 – Week 15 standings, bracket, clinching situations and postseason outlook

Hooray! Regardless of some of the wide-open NFL postseason races in current historical past, we lastly have an precise, real playoff group. The Packers broke the seal on Sunday afternoon, not solely clinching a spot within the NFC bracket but additionally the NFC North title. However in a flip of occasions that matches the theme of this season, no different groups have hit their clinching scenarios.

As of this second, 13 of the NFL’s 14 playoff spots stay open, and solely 5 groups are formally eradicated. (The Bears joined the eradicated bunch on Monday.) Most notably, the Buccaneers misplaced at residence Sunday evening, an end result that not solely stymied their very own speedy probabilities but additionally these of the Cowboys and Cardinals. There are nonetheless two video games remaining in Week 15, following three COVID-19 delays, however it’s going to finish with out an AFC group clinching a spot.

All of which implies we’re in for a wildly entertaining ultimate three weeks of the season. What follows is our take a look at the NFL playoff image, primarily based on ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) and a little bit of our personal intestine intuition. We’ll publish a ultimate replace Tuesday evening.

Word: X denotes a group that has clinched a playoff berth, Y reveals a group that has clinched its division and Z signifies a group that has secured a first-round bye.

Soar to: AFC | NFC

AFC

FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI probabilities to win division: 93%

The Chiefs will end Week 15 atop the AFC due to their win Thursday evening over the Chargers, together with losses by the Patriots and Titans. The Chiefs have been at one level 3-4, however they’ve received seven consecutive video games and are getting higher outcomes — if not higher play-to-play effectivity — than any group within the NFL. They now not have to fret about shedding the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Chargers, and so they can clinch the AFC West in Week 16 with a win over the Steelers and a Chargers loss to the Texans. They usually have a 54% likelihood to get the first-round bye, per ESPN’s FPI.

Remaining schedule: vs. Steelers, at Bengals, at Broncos


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 98%
FPI probabilities to win division: 55%
Present projected first-round matchup: vs. Payments

Saturday evening’s loss to the Colts snapped the Patriots’ seven-game successful streak, dropped them from the highest of the AFC and scuttled their situations for clinching a playoff spot and/or the AFC East in Week 15. It additionally arrange an enormous AFC East recreation in Week 16, following the Payments’ win Sunday over the Panthers. The Patriots will host the Payments, with the winner taking management of the division. It will not be a real AFC East championship recreation, as a result of neither group can clinch it with a victory alone. However the Patriots might clinch in the event that they win the sport and the Dolphins lose to the Saints.

Remaining schedule: vs. Payments, vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 97%
FPI probabilities to win division: 91%
Present projected first-round matchup: vs. Chargers

What an infinite swing the Titans went via this weekend. A win in Pittsburgh would have put them atop the AFC with three weeks left within the season and given them a 51% likelihood to win home-field benefit all through the playoffs, per ESPN’s FPI. However now each the Chiefs and Patriots are in higher place, leaving Tennessee at simply 15% to complete at No. 1. Sunday’s loss additionally delayed the Titans’ likelihood to clinch the division. They’re nonetheless prohibitive favorites to win the AFC South, nevertheless it did not occur in Week 15. They may clinch it in Week 16 with a win over the 49ers and a Colts loss to the Cardinals.

Remaining schedule: vs. 49ers, vs. Dolphins, at Texans


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 50%
FPI probabilities to win division: 38%
Present projected first-round matchup: vs. Colts

Properly, look what now we have right here. The Bengals snapped their two-game shedding streak by grinding out a win in Denver, after which a couple of minutes later, they ascended to the highest of the AFC North following the Ravens’ loss to the Packers. The Bengals have the short-term head-to-head tiebreaker over the Ravens, however as luck would have it, the groups will meet in Week 16. Neither would clinch the division title with a win, however it’s going to clearly be an enormous leverage recreation for each groups. If the Bengals win, their one-game lead within the win/loss column would actually be a two-game lead with three left to play due to the everlasting head-to-head tiebreaker. So that they’ll win the AFC North in the event that they win their remaining video games.

Remaining schedule: vs. Ravens, vs. Chiefs, at Browns


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 82%
FPI probabilities to win division: 9%
Present projected first-round matchup: at Bengals

The Colts pulled off an enormous win Saturday evening, each qualitatively and quantitatively, and their luck continued Sunday. The Titans’ loss to the Steelers means the Colts are nonetheless within the AFC South race. A division title continues to be an extended shot — ESPN’s FPI provides the Colts a 9% likelihood to do it — however a minimum of they don’t seem to be eradicated from it at this level. Regardless, the Colts ought to be using excessive. Their win Saturday snapped an eight-game shedding streak to the Patriots, and had they misplaced Saturday, the Colts’ playoff probabilities would have dropped to 42%. As a substitute, they’ve an 82% likelihood to get in, and so they even jumped the Chargers within the AFC standings.

Remaining schedule: at Cardinals, vs. Raiders, at Jaguars


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 73%
FPI probabilities to win division: 7%
Present projected first-round matchup: at Titans

The Chargers misplaced the largest recreation they’ve performed in years Thursday, however primarily they’re again to the place they began that evening: in place for a wild-card playoff berth. It will be simply their second journey to the postseason previously eight years. They’d a authentic likelihood to overhaul the Chiefs within the AFC West, and it stays a statistical risk, nevertheless it’ll require assist from a Chiefs group that has developed a bunch of expertise in closing out postseason place through the previous few years.

Remaining schedule: at Texans, vs. Broncos, at Raiders


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 85%
FPI probabilities to win division: 45%
Present projected first-round matchup: at Patriots

The Payments snapped their two-game shedding streak and managed to remain within the AFC prime seven due to the Ravens’ loss to the Packers. In the intervening time, the Payments maintain the common-games tiebreaker over Baltimore. ESPN’s FPI is giving the Payments a fantastic likelihood to make the playoffs, and their Week 16 recreation on the Patriots provides them an opportunity to take over the AFC East lead. The Patriots are favored in that recreation for numerous causes, and rightfully so, however in case you had informed the Payments just a few weeks in the past that they’d have an opportunity to retake the division lead in late December, they’d have thought-about themselves lucky. They’re going to win the AFC East in the event that they win their remaining video games.

Remaining schedule: at Patriots, vs. Falcons, vs. Jets

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Stefon Diggs catches a cross from Josh Allen and fights his means in for a Payments landing within the second quarter.


Within the AFC hunt

Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

The Ravens are so decimated by accidents and COVID-19 losses that coach John Harbaugh has felt compelled to go for a game-winning 2-point play twice previously three weeks slightly than take his probabilities in time beyond regulation. They’ve misplaced each video games and are actually on a playoff-crushing three-game shedding streak. The Ravens can have an opportunity to show it round in Week 16 on the Bengals, however ESPN’s FPI is giving them solely a 57% likelihood to make the playoffs, and their division title odds fell to 38% this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)

The Steelers saved themselves within the playoff race with Sunday’s win over the Titans, however their degree of problem is about to go up much more. A Week 16 recreation on the Chiefs, the most popular group in soccer, just isn’t the sort of recreation they need whereas attempting to remain inside an affordable distance of the race. ESPN’s FPI is giving Pittsburgh a 19% likelihood to make it to the postseason.

Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)

The Raiders saved their playoff hopes alive with a last-play victory over the depleted Browns. ESPN’s FPI now provides them a 9% likelihood of advancing to the postseason. All wins rely the identical within the standings, however in case you watched the Raiders wrestle to beat a group of Browns backups, you in all probability do not have a lot confidence of their probabilities, given upcoming video games in opposition to the Broncos, Colts and Chargers.

Miami Dolphins (7-7)

Give some credit score to the Dolphins for merely stepping into this dialog. They’ve adopted a seven-game shedding streak with a six-game successful streak and have one other winnable recreation in Week 16 on the Saints. Their probabilities to make the playoffs are nonetheless fairly minuscule at 6%, per ESPN’s FPI, however they exist.

Cleveland Browns (7-7)

Even with out a big chunk of their roster, the Browns had a authentic likelihood Monday evening to take over first place within the AFC North. However they misplaced 16-14 on the ultimate play to the Raiders and can finish Week 15 on the backside of the division. The AFC North is clearly tight, and the Browns can have an opportunity to climb again into the race. However Monday’s loss will make it a lot tougher. ESPN’s FPI has Cleveland at 17% to make the playoffs.

Denver Broncos (7-7)

Sunday’s loss to the Bengals dropped the Broncos’ playoff probabilities to eight%, based on ESPN’s FPI. They’ve a winnable recreation in Week 16 on the Raiders, however with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) doubtless sidelined, their postseason outlook is bleak.

NFC

FPI probabilities to make playoffs: Clinched
FPI probabilities to win division: Clinched

Sunday’s win in Baltimore gave the Packers the NFL’s first playoff berth, and so they clinched the NFC North on prime of it. Now they’re going to flip their consideration to successful home-field benefit all through the playoffs; they’re presently 6-0 at Lambeau Subject and 19-3 there in three common seasons below coach Matt LaFleur. Their subsequent two video games are residence, and their season finale is at Detroit. So it is no marvel that ESPN’s FPI is giving them a 71% likelihood to safe the No. 1 seed.

Remaining schedule: vs. Browns, vs. Vikings, at Lions


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI probabilities to win division: 99%
Present projected first-round matchup: vs. Saints

The Cowboys preserve plugging alongside — regardless of how imperfectly — and have now received three consecutive video games after shedding three of 4. The Cowboys additionally moved forward of the Cardinals and Buccaneers due to a greater convention document, and so they proceed to be the overwhelming favorites to win the NFC East. In reality, they will clinch the division in Week 16 with a victory over Washington. And for the time being, there’s a path to the division championship subsequent week even when they lose to Washington. It will occur in these two situations: 1) Washington loses to the Eagles on Tuesday, and the Eagles lose to the Giants in Week 16; or 2) Washington loses to the Eagles on Tuesday after which the Cowboys are in a position to clinch the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Eagles in Week 16.

Remaining schedule: vs. Washington, vs. Cardinals, at Eagles


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI probabilities to win division: 99%
Present projected first-round matchup: vs. 49ers

The Buccaneers might have clinched a playoff spot Sunday evening with a win over the depleted Saints. As a substitute, they misplaced as soon as once more to the group that has proved Tom Brady‘s nemesis since he joined the Buccaneers. Consequently, the Buccaneers have been overtaken a minimum of in the meanwhile by the Cowboys, and so they’ll have to attend a minimum of yet another week to clinch both a playoff spot or the NFC South. The excellent news is the Buccaneers will not should play the Saints once more, a minimum of within the common season, after absorbing their second consecutive season sweep at their fingers. Of extra relevance to the Buccaneers’ long-term competitiveness: How will they be affected by accidents suffered Sunday evening to receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and working again Leonard Fournette?

Remaining schedule: at Panthers, at Jets, vs. Panthers


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 99%
FPI probabilities to win division: 72%
Present projected first-round matchup: vs. Rams

The Cardinals are going within the flawed course. Sunday’s gorgeous defeat in Detroit was their third loss in 5 video games. They’ve tumbled as far down the NFC standings as they may, a minimum of whereas nonetheless holding on to the NFC West lead. However the injury is not as extreme because it may very well be, assuming they will get themselves again on monitor. The Cardinals had a number of different paths to clinching a playoff spot in Week 15, even with a loss, however none of them materialized. And one situation stays alive for clinching the NFC West in Week 16. To take action, the Cardinals would wish to beat the Colts, whereas additionally having the Rams lose Tuesday to Seattle after which once more in Week 16 to Minnesota.

Remaining schedule: vs. Colts, at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 97%
FPI probabilities to win division: 27%
Present projected first-round matchup: at Cardinals

The Rams’ COVID-19 outbreak pushed their recreation in opposition to the Seahawks to Tuesday, which ought to permit them to get again a minimum of a few of the key gamers who examined constructive final week. They’ve already returned cornerback Jalen Ramsey. And in the meantime, the Seahawks have begun shedding gamers to constructive assessments, together with six on Sunday. The Cardinals’ downturn has additionally reopened the NFC West as a minimum of an attention-grabbing risk for the Rams. A win over the Seahawks would go away L.A. a recreation out with three left to play. ESPN’s FPI does not take into account it out of the query, placing the Rams’ probabilities at overtaking the Cardinals at 27%.

Remaining schedule: vs. Seahawks (Tuesday), at Vikings, at Ravens, vs. 49ers


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 83%
FPI probabilities to win division: 1%
Present projected first-round matchup: at Buccaneers

No person is basically speaking about them, however the 49ers have received 5 of their previous six video games and have maneuvered right into a near-lock place for a wild-card spot. ESPN’s FPI presently has their postseason probabilities at 83%. Their remaining schedule is not straightforward; they’ve video games on the Titans and Rams, with a house recreation in opposition to the Texans. However the true query is whether or not there are two NFC groups set to overhaul them at this level. The possibilities aren’t excessive.

Remaining schedule: at Titans, vs. Texans, at Rams

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Kyle Juszczyk, Deebo Samuel and Jeff Wilson Jr. all discover the tip zone on the bottom because the 49ers take down the Falcons.


FPI probabilities to make playoffs: 32%
FPI probabilities to win division: Eradicated
Present projected first-round matchup: at Cowboys

The Vikings moved again into the No. 7 spot with Monday evening’s victory in Chicago, nevertheless it stays to be seen in the event that they keep there. Washington will supplant them Tuesday evening if it beats the Eagles, however the Vikings will stay at No. 7 if the Eagles win. With all of that stated, one of the best factor that may be stated about Monday evening’s recreation is that it saved the Vikings from falling into any extra of a gap. Had they misplaced — an end result that appears virtually inconceivable given the situation of the Bears’ roster — their FPI probabilities to make the playoffs would have been 7%.

Remaining schedule: vs. Rams, at Packers, vs. Bears


Within the NFC hunt

New Orleans Saints (7-7)

The Saints’ upset win over the Buccaneers lifted them briefly into the playoff image, however they fell again Monday evening after the Vikings’ win over the Bears. Regardless, the Saints secured an enormous victory that can assist them in myriad tiebreakers, together with division and convention document, and it is value noting that they do not have one other recreation scheduled in opposition to a group that presently has a successful document. New Orleans’ FPI playoff odds are at 49%, and the Dolphins are up subsequent.

Washington Football Team (6-7)

Just like the Browns and Rams, Washington is hoping to get a minimum of a few of its key gamers off the COVID-19 record earlier than taking the sphere Tuesday in opposition to the Eagles. That record consists of a number of quarterbacks, together with starter Taylor Heinicke and backup Kyle Allen. If Washington can pull off a win, it will change the Vikings because the NFC’s No. 7 seed. Washington has a ten% likelihood to make the playoffs for the time being, per ESPN’s FPI.

Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

The Eagles have to attend till Tuesday to play Washington, a delay that can in all probability decrease the personnel benefit they in any other case would have had. However the worst a part of the schedule change is that the Eagles must flip round and play the Giants 5 days later in Week 16. ESPN’s FPI is giving them a 28% likelihood to make the playoffs.

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