Around the NFL: Week 15 Playoff Picture, Clinching Scenarios, the 49ers are Purdy Good, More

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Around the NFL: Week 15 Playoff Picture, Clinching Scenarios, the 49ers are Purdy Good, More

Chicago Bears

With just a few weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s time to start focusing on the playoff picture around the NFL. Exciting times are ahead!

Week 15 NFC Playoff Picture

Let’s take a look at where the NFC playoff picture with last night’s win for the 49ers in the books (x = clinched playoff berth, y = clinched division, z = clinched No. 1 seed).

  1. Eagles -x (12-1)
  2. Vikings (10-3)
  3. 49ers – y (10-4)
  4. Buccaneers (6-7)
  5. Cowboys (10-3)
  6. Commanders (7-5-1)
  7. Giants (7-5-1)

In the hunt (with record and chance of making postseason):

  • Seahawks (7-7, 42.9%)
  • Lions (6-7, 53.5%)

The Eagles have clinched a playoff berth but are still looking to lock up the NFC East title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Philadelphia plays the Bears this weekend and has Dallas, New Orleans, and the Giants left on the schedule, so both possibilities are all but locks for the Eagles.

The Vikings will likely win the NFC North, but they’re one loss away from losing their shot at the top seed in the NFC. A win or tie against the Colts this week and a Lions loss or tie against the Jets would secure Minnesota’s first NFC title since 2017.

The 49ers have locked up the NFC West (more on that shortly) and are a long shot to jump the Eagles for the top spot in the NFC, but they can conceivably pass the Vikings for the No. 2 seed. San Francisco has the Commanders, Raiders, and Cardinals on the schedule.

The Buccaneers enter the week at 6-7 but hold the No. 4 seed thanks to leading a terrible NFC South division. Tampa Bay has Cincinnati, Arizona, Carolina, and Atlanta on the schedule.

The Cowboys are 10-3 but almost locked into a Wild Card spot thanks to Philadelphia’s dominance this season and light schedule the rest of the way. Dallas has the Jaguars this weekend, and they finish the season with a trio of games against the Eagles, Titans, and Commanders.

As it stands right now, the Commanders and Giants hold the remaining two Wild Card spots in the NFC, and they play each other on Sunday Night Football this week with plenty of implications. Washington could almost guarantee their playoff spot with a win over the scuffling Giants, sending New York into a fight for their playoff lives with the Seahawks and Lions down the stretch.

The Seahawks have the better record (by just a half-game) today, but the Lions have a higher chance of making the playoffs. Detroit has been red hot, and they take on Zach Wilson and the Jets this week with an opportunity to sneak within a half-game of either the Commanders or Giants by the time we wake up on Monday morning.

Week 15 AFC Playoff Picture

Let’s take a look at where the AFC playoff picture (x = clinched playoff berth, y = clinched division, z = clinched No. 1 seed):

  1. Bills (10-3)
  2. Chiefs (10-3)
  3. Ravens (9-4)
  4. Titans (7-6)
  5. Bengals (9-4)
  6. Dolphins (8-5)
  7. Patriots (7-6)

In the hunt (with record and chance of making postseason):

  • Chargers (7-6, 51.2%)
  • Jets (7-6, 31.8%)

The Bills can clinch a playoff berth on Saturday night with a win over the Miami Dolphins. While a win over the Dolphins wouldn’t clinch the AFC East just yet, it would give Buffalo a three-game lead over Miami, making next week a potential clinching game for the Bills.

The Chiefs can lock up their seventh straight AFC West title with a win over the lowly Texans this week. A Chargers loss would also do the trick for Pat Mahomes, and Co. Kansas City has a solid shot at jumping the Bills for the No. 1 seed in the AFC with the Bears, Bengals, and Patriots on the schedule after this week’s matchup with the Texans.

The Ravens will still be without Lamar Jackson this week against the Browns, but Tyler Huntley will be back after leaving last week’s victory over the Steelers early with a concussion. Baltimore needs to keep winning to stay atop the AFC North with the Bengals, who enter the week with an identical record.

The Titans enter the week on a three-game losing streak but still sit atop the AFC South and will likely win the division regardless. However, Tennessee will visit the Chargers this weekend, and Los Angeles will be fighting for their playoff lives, so it won’t be easy.

The Bengals have won five straight games and can win the AFC North if they win out. Cincy has Tampa Bay this week and New England and Buffalo before a Week 18 showdown with the Ravens that might decide the division title.

The Dolphins need a win over the Bills this weekend if they want to win the AFC East title, and they’ve already done it once, so A loss to Buffalo could end up with the Dolphins tied with New England for second place in the AFC East and on the playoff bubble.

The Patriots visit the Raiders this weekend and could find themselves tied with Miami if they can beat old pal Josh McDaniels and the Bills top the Dolphins on Saturday night.

The Chargers are in a pretty good spot right now and would sneak into the final seed in the AFC with a win this week and a Patriots loss. On the other hand, the Jets are on life support with Mike White ruled out this week and Zach Wilson starting against the feisty and streaking Lions.

The 49ers are Purdy Good

Brock Purdy is now 2-0 as a starter and 3-0 since taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo early in the Miami victory a few weeks ago. Not too shabby, right? One could say that Brock is Purdy good. One would also be corny Dad (raises hand), but that’s fine.

Purdy is doing precisely what quarterbacks in the Kyle Shanahan system have to do, making plays and keeping the ball safe. Purdy is riding the Jimmy G. script in Shanahan’s offense right now. Purdy completed 17-of-26 passes for 217 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and no interceptions last night as the 49ers clinched the NFC West title with a win over the Seahawks.

If Purdy can continue to play clean football, the 49ers might be in just as good shape as they were with Garoppolo under center, especially if Deebo Samuel is healthy again in time for the playoffs.

Extra Points

  • Saturday NFL football is back with a triple-header on the NFL Network (and NFL+)!
  • I can’t do another Brady retirement/unretirement this offseason. Just pick a lane, please.
  • Here’s a cool story on one of the best revivers in the NFL, Justin Jefferson:
  • I love snow games!
  • Jerry Jones still believes that OBJ to Dallas is alive and there’s a “good chance” that OBJ ends up with the Cowboys for the stretch run.
  • Money Mitch back in the saddle this week?


Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.