NFL playoff watch: Welcome to the playoffs, New Orleans and Kansas City

Two more teams clinched playoff spots on Sunday, with the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs joining the Los Angeles Rams.

The Saints got their 11th win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, seemingly remembering after six quarters, dating back to their lackluster loss to Dallas in Week 13, that they are one of the best offenses in the NFL this season.

The Chiefs’ game against the Baltimore Ravens saw them win a three-point game for the first time this year: their losses, to the Patriots and Rams, were both by a field goal. But Kansas City has little time to celebrate because on Thursday night they host the Los Angeles Chargers, likely with winner taking the AFC West.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we saw six teams eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday. Better luck next year.


With their Sunday win over the Buccaneers, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints won consecutive division titles for the first time in franchise history. (AP)
With their Sunday win over the Buccaneers, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints won consecutive division titles for the first time in franchise history. (AP)
  1. New Orleans Saints (11-2): New Orleans wrapped up the NFC South title and remembered its ability to play offense on Sunday, the first time in franchise history it has won back-to-back division titles. New Orleans’ final three: at Carolina Panthers, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers and vs. Carolina.

  2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2): The Rams ceded control of the No. 1 seed Sunday night, watching their high-octane offense stifled in the frigid cold of Soldier Field. It’s a good thing for them that they’re on track to host any potential playoff game against Chicago. L.A.’s final three: vs. Philadelphia Eagles, at Arizona Cardinals and vs. San Francisco 49ers.

  3. Chicago Bears (9-4, vs. Rams Sunday night): The Bears stood pat in the playoff race with Sunday’s dominant defensive performance against the Rams. Holding home-field advantage in the wild card round would be daunting for their opponent. Chicago’s final three: vs. Green Bay Packers, at 49ers, at Minnesota Vikings.

  4. Dallas Cowboys (8-5): Dallas needed overtime and a fluky final play for a touchdown to dispatch the Eagles, but it all but locked up the NFC East title, up two games on the division with three to play. The Cowboys’ final three: at Indianapolis Colts, vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at New York Giants.

  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-5): The Seahawks kept a leg up on the top wild card spot with Monday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. Seattle’s final three: at San Francisco, vs. Kansas City Chiefs, vs. Cardinals.

  6. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1): The Vikings laid in egg with a chance to overtake the Seahawks for the top wild card spot and separate from the pack. Fortunately for them, all three teams trying to get into their wild card spot lost on Sunday. Minnesota’s final three: vs. Miami Dolphins, at Detroit Lions, vs. Chicago.

Also in contention: Panthers (6-7; vs. Saints, vs. Atlanta Falcons, at Saints); Eagles (6-7; at Rams, vs. Houston Texans, at Washington Redskins); Washington (6-7; at Jacksonville Jaguars, at Tennessee Titans, vs. Eagles).

Mathematically eliminated: Cardinals (3-10), 49ers (3-10).


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates his team’s win and playoff spot on Sunday. (AP)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates his team’s win and playoff spot on Sunday. (AP)
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2): Patrick Mahomes, Football Wizard. The kid was at it again on Sunday, with no-look passes, across-the-body scrambling passes, and fourth-down completions against the Ravens, an overtime win that clinched the Chiefs’ playoff berth. Kansas City’s final three: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, at Seattle, vs. Oakland Raiders.

  2. New England Patriots (9-4): The Patriots’ coaching staff won’t sleep well Sunday night after putting the wrong personnel on the field for the crazy final play against the Miami Dolphins, a loss that lost them ground to the Chiefs for the AFC’s top seed and the chance to sew up the AFC East title. The Patriots’ final three: at Pittsburgh Steelers, vs. Buffalo Bills, vs. New York Jets.

  3. Houston Texans (9-4): The Texans will also be kicking themselves – the Patriots’ loss meant they could have jumped into the No. 2 seed, but they lost at home to the Indianapolis Colts, ending their nine-game win streak. Houston’s final three: at Jets, at Eagles, vs. Jaguars.

  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1): The Steelers’ lead atop the AFC North got much smaller on Sunday, as they lost on the road to the Raiders on a last-second field goal. They’re now just a half-game ahead of the Ravens. The Steelers’ final four three: vs. Patriots, at New Orleans, vs. Cincinnati Bengals.

  5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-3): After knocking on the door last year, the Chargers posted their first 10-win season since 2009 with Sunday’s win over the Bengals. They didn’t lock up a playoff spot yet, but it would be stunning to see them not make it, and they still have a shot to win the AFC West. The Chargers’ final three: at Chiefs, vs. Baltimore Ravens, at Denver Broncos.

  6. Baltimore Ravens (7-6): We know – moral victories aren’t really the jam. But for the Ravens to go into Kansas City with their rookie quarterback and push the Chiefs to overtime was a positive in a lot of ways. We may have seen the last of Joe Flacco in Ravens’ purple. Baltimore’s final three: vs. Buccaneers, at Chargers, vs. Cleveland Browns.

Also in contention: Indianapolis Colts (7-6; vs. Dallas, vs. Giants, at Tennessee); Miami Dolphins (7-6; at Minnesota, vs. Jaguars, at Bills); Tennessee (Jaguars, at Giants, vs. Washington, vs. Indianapolis).

Mathematically eliminated: Bills (4-9), Jaguars (4-9), Jets (4-9), Raiders (3-10).

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