Entering Sunday, three teams had clinched playoff bids for the 2019 season. Following the first two batches of Week 15 games, we have more teams locked into the postseason field.
Packers, Seahawks, Niners make it official
In the NFC, the New Orleans Saints had the South division title wrapped up entering the week and are playing for a seed at this point.
Two more teams joined the Saints in the dance later Sunday, and we now have a new No. 1 seed following a shocking result.
The Seahawks beating the Carolina Panthers and the San Francisco 49ers losing in the final seconds to the Atlanta Falcons means that the Seahawks not only are in, but they’re now atop the conference seeding for the time being.
Seattle didn’t actually clinch a playoff spot until the Los Angeles Rams were smashed by the Dallas Cowboys, so it was a wild ride up the playoff food chain in the matter of a few hours. It’s coach Pete Carroll’s eighth trip to the playoffs with Seattle.
The 49ers actually got into the postseason, despite the loss — also thanks to the Rams losing.
The Green Bay Packers clinched a playoff bid in Matt LaFleur’s first season as head coach by hanging on to beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and the Bears officially were knocked out hours later when the Minnesota Vikings beat the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Rams now need to run the table — and have the Vikings lose out — to get in.
Who knew L.A. could be so kind to other teams?
Buffalo playoff-bound again, Pittsburgh in a fight
That’s now two postseason bids in three years for the Buffalo Bills, who clinched their spot Sunday night with a statement victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This is the same Bills franchise that before 2017 had gone 17 seasons without a playoff bid. It’s Buffalo’s most victories (10) in a season since 1999, when they won 11. Win the final two and the Bills can take the AFC East and their most wins since 1993.
The Steelers now are sitting even with the Tennessee Titans at 8-6. They’ll be duking it out for the final wild-card spot, it appears.
Patriots make playoffs for 11th consecutive year
The New England Patriots got off to a slow start against the Cincinnati Bengals but outlasted them in a 34-13 victory.
That punched the Patriots’ postseason card for the 11th straight season. The 11 straight years is not only the longest current such streak, but it’s an NFL record — one that just got a little more impressive, even as the Patriots’ legacy has come into doubt with the latest videotaping incident.
The Patriots, though, have not clinched the AFC East title just yet. The 10-4 Bills remain nipping at their heels and travel to New England in Week 16.
AFC field still unsettled
That’s now three AFC teams who have locked up playoff spots.
The Baltimore Ravens are AFC North champs, fighting to hold onto the No. 1 seed, and the Kansas City Chiefs are AFC West champs. With both the Chiefs and Patriots winning Sunday, the Ravens can’t clinch that top seed until next week at the soonest.
Sunday night’s Bills-Pittsburgh Steelers game also holds big playoff implications. Right now, both are in the two AFC wildcard spots, but the Tennessee Titans — who lost Sunday to the Houston Texans — are very much in it to knock one of them out.
NFC East remains up for grabs
Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys won on Sunday, with the Eagles taking the lead late in dramatic fashion.
Right now, they’re both sitting at 7-7 with two games remaining, but Cowboys hold the tiebreaker and would be the No. 4 seed at this moment. Both teams either must win the division or miss the postseason entirely.
The Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos officially were eliminated with their losses on Sunday. The Colts were eliminated on Monday with a loss to the Saints.
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