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NFL Playoff Picture, Week 15: Packers now hold one-game lead in NFC North

No more tiebreakers are necessary for the Packers at present - but they may come into play after the final three weeks play out.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers earned a victory over the Dallas Cowboys; that win combined with the Minnesota Vikings' loss in Arizona on Thursday gave the Packers a full-game lead on Minnesota for the division lead with three games (and a head-to-head matchup) yet to play.

While this result keeps the Packers in the hunt for a playoff bye, it is another step towards a home playoff game in this year's playoffs. And while the NFC's playoff field appears to be mostly set, there is still a chance that one of the NFC South teams could sneak up and snatch a Wild-Card spot.

Here is how things sit currently, with Monday night's New York Giants-Miami Dolphins game yet to be played.


Not only did the Packers pick up a full game on Minnesota, but they also got a flip in the matchup, as Seattle now pulled even with the Vikings for the Wild-Card. Since the Seahawks have a head-to-head win in the bag, that gives them the lead for the 5th seed, and projects a Minnesota-Green Bay rematch on Wild-Card weekend. Note that if Minnesota wins that game and the two teams are tied on record, the Vikings would end up with the tiebreaker by virtue of a better record against teams within the division.

If anyone was hoping for Seattle or Minnesota to miss out on the playoffs, however, you can pretty much kiss those dreams goodbye. Both Atlanta and Tampa Bay lost on Sunday, which puts both of those two teams two games back of the Wild-Card. They would need one of the teams ahead of them to lose out, an unlikely (though not entirely impossible) proposition at this stage.

1. Carolina Panthers, 13-0 (NFC South leader)
2. Arizona Cardinals, 11-2 (NFC West leader)

3. Green Bay Packers, 9-4 (NFC North leader)
4. Washington, 6-7 (NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks, 8-5 (Wild-Card)
6. Minnesota Vikings, 8-5 (Wild-Card)

Still Alive

Philadelphia Eagles, 6-7
Atlanta Falcons, 6-7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6-7
New York Giants, 5-7*
St. Louis Rams, 5-8
New Orleans Saints, 5-8
Dallas Cowboys, 4-9


In the AFC, the situation is still very much up in the air for several teams. Though the six playoff teams did not change this week, losses by Cincinnati and Denver ensured a shakeup in the seeding. New England reclaimed the top spot, and the two Wild-Card teams both won, continuing to leave Pittsburgh on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, Houston and Indianapolis are still tied for the South division lead, but that tie will be broken next week as they play at Lucas Oil Stadium.

1. New England Patriots, 11-2 (AFC East leader)
2. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-3 (AFC North leader)

3. Denver Broncos, 10-3 (AFC West leader)
4. Indianapolis Colts, 6-7 (AFC South leader)
5. Kansas City Chiefs, 8-5 (Wild-Card)
6. New York Jets, 8-5 (Wild-Card)

Still Alive

Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-5
Buffalo Bills, 6-7
Houston Texans, 6-7
Oakland Raiders, 6-7
Miami Dolphins, 5-7*
Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-8