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NFL Playoff Picture: Updated seeds after Week 15

NFL Playoff Picture: Updated seeds after Week 15
From ESPN - December 17, 2017

The NFL has a new leader atop the AFC and a total of five playoff spots accounted for. That leaves seven slots left to be claimed in the final two weeks of the season.

Here's what we know heading into Monday night's Atlanta Falcons-Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup, using ESPN's Football Power Index when appropriate to indicate favorites.

AFC

1. New England Patriots (11-3)

Sunday's wild game in Pittsburgh helped the Patriots clinch the AFC East and reclaim the pole position for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Jaguars' 10th victory means the Patriots have not clinched a first-round bye, but they will have a chance to wrap that up with home games against the Bills in Week 16 and the Jets in Week 17.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)

The catch rule bit the Steelers and probably scuttled their chances to clinch home-field advantage. Because of the head-to-head tiebreaker, they will need to win one more game than the Patriots over the final two weeks of the season. The Steelers have already won the AFC North, but because they lost to the Jaguars in Week 5 and would thus lose a tiebreaker with Jacksonville, Pittsburgh is not yet guaranteed a first-round bye.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4)

The Jaguars clinched a playoff berth with Sunday's win over the Texans and could wrap up the AFC South with one more victory (or a Tennessee loss). But why stop there? Amazingly, the Jaguars are still in play for the AFC's top seed and could win a tiebreaker with either the Patriots or Steelers, or both. Would not that be an incredible turn of events at the end of a wild season?

4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)

The Chiefs rebounded Saturday after allowing their AFC West lead to shrink as small as possible without losing it entirely. Their victory over the Chargers clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams, in essence giving the Chiefs a two-game lead over Los Angeles with two games to play.

5. Tennessee Titans (8-6)

If you are going to lose in the midst of a playoff race, you had better hope it comes against a team in the opposite conference. Sunday's loss to the 49ers did not help the Titans, but it did not hurt them as much as if it had been to an AFC opponent. As a result, the Titans still are positioned ahead of both the Bills and Ravens, based on the conference-record tiebreaker. FPI still gives the Titans a 68.5 percent chance to make the playoffs.

6. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

For the moment, we have the Bills in the sixth seed, based on the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Ravens. But after next week, both the Bills and Ravens will have enough common games (minimum of four required) to shift the applicable tiebreaker. And so the Bills could win on Sunday at the Patriots and still drop behind the Ravens in the seedings -- if the Ravens beat the Colts.

NFC

1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)

2. Minnesota Vikings (11-3)

3. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)

4. New Orleans Saints (10-4)

5. Carolina Panthers (10-4)

6. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)

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