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NFL playoff picture: Who will claim top spot in NFC? 49ers, Eagles or Cowboys?


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The battle for the No. 1 seed in the NFC just got very interesting. With the Dallas Cowboys’ 33-13 victory Sunday night over the Philadelphia Eagles, there are now three teams tied atop the conference at 10-3: the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys and the Eagles.

The 49ers own dominant victories over each of their rivals for the top spot, but will they be able to continue their charge to the front and secure the coveted first-round bye? We’ll find out in the coming weeks.

As for the rest of the NFL, Week 14 saw plenty of movement in the playoff picture. Let’s take a look at where things stand with two Monday night games remaining.

Listed odds to make the playoffs, secure the No. 1 seed and win the Super Bowl are all via The Athletic’s NFL betting model, created by Austin Mock.

AFC playoff picture

Seed Team Record Week 14 result



W vs. LAR



TBD (vs. TEN)



L vs. BUF



L vs. CLE



W vs. JAX



L vs. NE



L vs. CIN

The Ravens are the first 10-win team in the AFC and found yet another way to win a thrilling game Sunday with a walk-off punt return in overtime. Quarterback Lamar Jackson tallied 316 passing yards, 70 rushing yards and three passing touchdowns in a dominant performance against the Rams in the rain.

Remaining schedule: at Jaguars, at 49ers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Steelers

Odds: To make playoffs: 99.4 percent | To earn bye: 33.6 percent | To win Super Bowl: 13.4 percent

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has 93 receptions for league highs of 1,481 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He’s got a chance to put on a show for the Monday Night Football audience to potentially boost his MVP candidacy.

Remaining schedule: vs. Titans, vs. Jets, vs. Cowboys, at Ravens, vs. Bills

Odds: To make playoffs: 99.7 percent | To earn bye: 52.8 percent | To win Super Bowl: 15 percent

The Chiefs have lost four of six, and they’re finding new ways to betray themselves in late situations, this time with Kadarius Toney clearly lining up offside to negate a go-ahead touchdown in their loss to the Bills. Whether it’s drops, penalties or other self-inflicted mistakes, the Chiefs have been failing in clutch situations where they’ve been so successful with Patrick Mahomes, who can’t do it all himself. The Chiefs have a very manageable schedule over the final month, but they’re short on time to fix mistakes that have reoccurred throughout the season.

Remaining schedule: at Patriots, vs. Raiders, vs. Bengals, at Chargers

Odds: To make playoffs: 98 percent | To earn bye: 11.4 percent | To win Super Bowl: 10.5 percent


NFL Week 14 takeaways: Bills playoff bound? How far can Joe Flacco take the Browns?

Credit quarterback Trevor Lawrence for playing through a high ankle sprain, taking a beating throughout the game and still giving the Jaguars a chance in the loss to the Browns. However, the Jaguars have some concerns to rectify. They turned it over four times, including three Lawrence interceptions, and it’s the seventh time this season they’ve had multiple giveaways. And the Jaguars have now given up 31 points in back-to-back losses to backup quarterbacks. The combination of ball security issues and shaky defense is not a recipe for an extended stay in the postseason.

Remaining schedule: vs. Ravens, at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Titans

Odds: To make playoffs: 94.7 percent | To earn bye: 1.3 percent | To win Super Bowl: 5.8 percent

The Browns improved to 3-4 this season in games started by a backup quarterback with the 31-27 victory against the Jaguars, and this was something of an offensive explosion for them — they had been averaging 14.3 points per game in their previous six outings with a backup QB. Another issue: They’ve given up at least 27 points in four of their last five games, so the defense has tapered off after a dominant start.

Remaining schedule: vs. Bears, at Texans, vs. Jets, at Bengals

Odds: To make playoffs: 81.5 percent | To earn bye: 0.9 percent | To win Super Bowl: 0.9 percent

The Steelers own the tiebreakers over the other five AFC teams with 7-6 records, but it won’t matter if they continue to play the way they did in the back-to-back losses to a pair of cellar-dwellers in the Cardinals and Patriots. If that’s how they looked against a pair of three-win teams, can they be trusted to improve against a far more difficult final group of opponents down the stretch?

Remaining schedule: at Colts, vs. Bengals, at Seahawks, at Ravens

Odds: To make playoffs: 32.4 percent | To earn bye: 0 percent | To win Super Bowl: 0.4 percent



Kaboly: Steelers’ ‘horrible’ performance exposes their biggest problem — mental weakness

The Colts have overachieved with an injury-depleted roster but lost a tough one Sunday to a suddenly improved Bengals team. Those games against the Steelers and Texans bookend an easier stretch, but they’ll have to win at least one of the tougher two and get some help from the tiebreakers to ward off the pack.

Remaining schedule: vs. Steelers, at Falcons, vs. Raiders, vs. Texans

Odds: To make playoffs: 47.8 percent | To earn bye: 0 percent | To win Super Bowl: 0.5 percent

In the hunt:

• Houston Texans (7-6)
Denver Broncos (7-6)
• Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)
• Buffalo Bills (7-6)
• Los Angeles Chargers (5-8)
• Las Vegas Raiders (5-8)
• New York Jets (5-8)
• Tennessee Titans (4-8)


• New England Patriots (3-10)

NFC playoff picture

Seed Team Record Week 14 result



W vs. SEA



W vs. PHI



L vs. CHI



W vs. ATL



L vs. DAL



W vs. LV



TBD (at NYG)

With their 28-16 victory against the Seahawks, the 49ers have won by an average of 19.4 points during their five-game streak. They’ve only won a single game by one score all season — 30-23 against the Rams back in Week 2.



Brock Purdy’s big achievement: 49ers pass catchers have a chance to make history

Remaining schedule: at Cardinals, vs. Ravens, at Commanders, vs. Rams

Odds: To make playoffs: 100 percent | To earn bye: 61.1 percent | To win Super Bowl: 22.2 percent

The Cowboys improved to 7-0 at home this season with their victory against the Eagles, and they’re averaging 39.9 points and two takeaways per game in Dallas. Conversely, they’re 3-3 on the road and averaging 23.7 points and 1.2 takeaways per game.

There’s some necessary context as four of their last five games have been at home as they’ve also begun to play their best football of the season. Still, it goes to show how much more dangerous they’ll be if they can steal the NFC East from Philly.

Remaining schedule: at Bills, at Dolphins, vs. Lions, at Commanders

Odds: To make playoffs: 100 percent | To earn bye: 10.5 percent | To win Super Bowl: 9.9 percent

The Lions have been teetering for several weeks, although they’ve managed to survive most of their close calls. But it’s a concern the Bears controlled much of the 28-13 affair, and quarterback Jared Goff’s shakiness in the turnover department has been a problem of late. He threw two interceptions and had a fumbled exchange with the center, marking the third time in the last four games Goff has coughed up multiple turnovers. When the Lions were rolling earlier in the season, Goff was as sure with the ball as just about any QB in the league.

Remaining schedule: vs. Broncos, at Vikings, at Cowboys, vs. Vikings

Odds: To make playoffs: 98.2 percent | To earn bye: 0.5 percent | To win Super Bowl: 5 percent

Quarterback Baker Mayfield rallied the Bucs past the Falcons to take over first place in the division. It’s possible the NFC South sends a sub-.500 team into the playoffs for the second consecutive season and the third time since 2014. Their reward would likely be a wild-card date with the NFC East runner-up (Eagles or Cowboys). With the Bucs, Falcons and Saints all 6-7, there’s time for plenty more drama in this division.

Remaining schedule: at Panthers, vs. Colts, at Bears, at Saints

Odds: To make playoffs: 37.6 percent | To earn bye: 0 percent | To win Super Bowl: 0.5 percent

The Eagles got off to a 10-1 start without playing at their best because of their mental toughness and strong ability to close out tight games in crunch time. But over the last two losses to the 49ers and Cowboys, the Eagles were doomed by slow starts and couldn’t catch up to a pair of NFC powers that have been at their best. Now, the Eagles know they’ve got ground to make up if they’re going to get through either team in the playoffs.

Remaining schedule: at Seahawks, vs. Giants, vs. Cardinals, at Giants

Odds: To make playoffs: 100 percent | To earn bye: 27.9 percent | To win Super Bowl: 9 percent

Well, they all count the same. The Vikings’ 3-0 win against the Raiders kept them a game up on a quartet of teams with a 6-7 record. The concern is the Josh Dobbs magic may be expiring. Coach Kevin O’Connell evaluated the QB situation during their bye week, and Dobbs was replaced Sunday by Nick Mullens. Their remaining schedule is far too daunting to assume the Vikings are safely in the playoff picture based on their QB play over the past three games.

Remaining schedule: at Bengals, vs. Lions, vs. Packers, at Lions

Odds: To make playoffs: 68.7 percent | To earn bye: 0 percent | To win Super Bowl: 1.1 percent

Quarterback Jordan Love has completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 857 yards, eight touchdowns, no interceptions and a 116.9 rating during the Packers’ three-game winning streak. The Packers visit the Giants on “Monday Night Football” for their third consecutive game in front of a national audience, so Love’s brilliance has been on display for all to see.

Remaining schedule: at Giants, vs. Buccaneers, at Panthers, at Vikings, vs. Bears

Odds: To make playoffs: 75.3 percent | To earn bye: 0 percent | To win Super Bowl: 1.2 percent

In the hunt:

• Los Angeles Rams (6-7)
• Seattle Seahawks (6-7)
• Atlanta Falcons (6-7)
• New Orleans Saints (6-7)
• Chicago Bears (5-8)
• New York Giants (4-8)
• Washington Commanders (4-9)
• Arizona Cardinals (3-10)


• Carolina Panthers (1-12)

(Photo of Dak Prescott: Cooper Neill / Getty Images)

“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time, is on sale now. Order it here.

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