NFL standings: Updated AFC, NFC playoff picture for Week 15 of 2023 season

The NFL playoff race is heating up as there is only one month and four weeks of  games left in the 2023 regular season through Week 18. Fourteen of 30 alive teams are looking to position themselves well as either division leaders or wild-card hopefuls.

Although there are some dominant teams headed to a return to the playoffs, most scenarios are in flux with seeding and potential entrants.

Here’s a look at the updated NFL playoff picture during a full-game slate in Week 15:

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys overtake Eagles, Ravens; Steelers, Texans, Colts slip for Week 15

NFL standings for Week 15

AFC playoff picture

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-3), first place, AFC North. The Ravens hold a two-game lead in the division over the Browns. They are looking better for home-field advantage and the only bye after beating down the No. 4 Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday night. They are up a game on the No. 2 Dolphins and are set up to lock things up when they host the Dolphins in Week 17 after a tough matchup with the NFC No. 1 49ers in Week 16.

2. Miami Dolphins (10-4), first place, AFC East. The Dolphins still hold a two-game lead in their division over the Bills. They shut out the Jets on Sunday ahead of a brutal finishing slate vs. the Cowboys, Ravens and Bills. Miami would need to settle for a wild-card berth again should Buffalo make up one more game before Week 18 and then win that rematch in Miami to sweep the season series.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs’ division lead over the Broncos is back up to two full games after they beat the Patriots on Sunday and that team lost to the Lions on Saturday  They now get three favorable matchups against the Raiders, Bengals and Chargers with the first two in Kansas City. They hold the head-to-head tiebreakers over the Dolphins and Jaguars.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6), first place, AFC South. The Jaguars have lost three consecutive games to AFC North foes, with prime-time home defeats to the Bengals and Ravens sandwiching a road setback in Cleveland. Those results have erased their division lead over the Colts and Texans, save for still holding the division record tiebreaker (4-1 vs. 3-2 and 2-2). The Jaguars close with the Buccaneers and Panthers from the NFC South and then at the last-place Titans.

5. Cleveland Browns (9-5), second place, AFC North. The Browns bolstered their wild-card position by rallying to beat the Bears and also stayed within striking distance of the Ravens in the division race. They finish with the Texans, Jets and Bengals in their attempt to nail down at least this spot.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6), third place, AFC North. The Bengals keep rolling with Jake Browning at quarterback, collecting their third consecutive victory on Saturday by beating the Vikings in overtime. Cincinnati will end the season with road games against Pittsburgh and Kansas City, and a home tilt with the Browns. The Bengals are still a division long shot behind the Ravens and Browns, as they are 2.5 games out of first and got swept by Baltimore.

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6), second place, AFC South. The Colts joined the Bengals in winning on Saturday night, beating the Steelers at home. That was key to maintaining a wild-card spot. They are No. 7 instead of No. 6 because they lost at the Bengals in Week 14.

Who’s in the hunt?

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)

The Texans joined the Browns, Bengals and Colts in winning, making five wins not good enough to make the AFC playoffs anymore. The Bills kept pace, something the Steelers and Broncos couldn’t do on Saturday. The Raiders stayed barely alive by routing the Chargers, who are pretty much done at 5-9.

NFC playoff picture

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-3), champions, NFC West. The 49ers already have clinched another, repeat division title thanks to beating the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 15. They’re in great shape to keep the top seed with big wins over the Cowboys and Eagles and can win out with the Ravens (at home), Commanders and Rams rounding out the schedule.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-3), first place, NFC East. The Eagles were in a virtual tie with the Cowboys after losing them in Week 14 after they didn’t play  the same amount of division games, but jumped them again after the Cowboys lost at the Bills. The Eagles have clinched a playoff spot will still be positioned well to repeat as East champions should they win out vs. the Seahawks, Cardinals and Giants (twice) given how tough the Cowboys’ closing stretch remains.

3. Detroit Lions (10-4), first place, NFC North. The Lions had a huge Saturday win in Week 15 as they routed the Broncos after seeing the Vikings lose in overtime earlier in the day. Detroit is on the brink of winning its first division title in 30 years, knowing it is. up three games with only three games left. The Lions are a stretch to take the top seed, but they can slide up into No. 2 given they play at the No. 2 Cowboys.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7), first place, NFC South. The Buccaneers have the same overall record as the Saints, but after upsetting the Packers in Week 15, they have both the head-to-head (from Week 4) and division record tiebreakers are now are a game ahead of the losing Falcons. It’s down to a two-team race likely in the South with the Week 17 Bucs-Saints rematch likely deciding it.

5. Dallas Cowboys (10-4), first place, NFC East. The Cowboys already have clinched a playoff spot and beat the Eagles in Dallas in Week 14 to jump to No. 2 and lead the East by the division-record tiebreaker. They dropped a half-game back after losing the Bills. They have two more tough games vs. the Dolphins (away) and Lions (home) before finishing vs. the rival Commanders.

6. Minnesota Vikings (7-7), second place, NFC North. The Vikings blew a big chance to go two games above .500 on Saturday, losing a big lead and then the game to the Bengals in Cincinnati. Their faint division hopes now come down to doing more than sweeping the Lions in two upcoming matchups. They are ahead of the Rams and Saints with a superior conference record (6-3).

7. Los Angeles Rams (7-7), second place, NFC West. The Rams jumped the winning Saints and losing Packers for this spot with their late-window win over the Commanders. Before playing the Saints at home in Week 16, they are ahead based on having the better conference record (5-4 vs. 4-5). The Rams can’t catch the 49ers anymore down four games with three to play, so they to focus on the wild card. After New Orleans, Los Angeles finishes at the Giants and at the potential resting 49ers.

Who’s in the hunt?

8. New Orleans Saints (7-7)

9. Seattle Seahawks (6-7)

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)

The Saints are a game ahead of the pack and have a great shot to jump up, playing at the Rams in Week 16. The Seahawks need to try to get to .500 at home vs. the Eagles on Monday night. The Falcons faded again in the division but have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers. The Giants and Bears’ outside shots were dashed in Week 15.

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