Standings, brackets, scenarios after Chiefs-Chargers, plus Week 15 outlook

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There was a change in the picture of the playoffs in Week 15. The Chiefs were the conference's top seed after their overtime victory over the Chargers. For a few days at least, the Chiefs have returned to the spot they spent so much of the previous three seasons in, even though the Pats can regain that position with a victory Saturday over the Colts.

With four weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff field is wide open. There are 26 teams in the league that are either in a playoff spot or within one game of one. Through 14 weeks of the season, there are 24 teams with at least six wins.

We've put together a preview of our weekly snapshot of the NFL's playoff picture, which includes a bit of our own instincts and the Football Power Index (FPI) to give you a sense of short- and long-term stakes. We'll update how it all worked out on Saturday, Sunday and Monday after threading scenarios for a few teams.

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A group of people.

1. The Kansas City Chiefs are doing well.

Even if it's only for a short time, the Chiefs' seventh consecutive win completed their journey from a losing record to the top spot in the AFC. They eliminated the possibility of a head-to-head tie in the race. It's a good thing, because the rest of the schedule isn't easy for the Chiefs. None of the three wild-card hopefuls are likely to play out the string: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Denver. This is going to be enjoyable.

Next up: against the Steelers.

2. New England is 9-4

The Pats were knocked out of the top spot by Thursday night's outcome, but they can regain it with a win on Saturday. The two-week stretch could well decide the title. If they beat the Bills at home in Week 16 and then beat the Colts at Indianapolis, they'll win the division. If the Pats want to make the playoffs in Week 15, they will need to win and get losses from the Dolphins and the Broncos, as well as losses from the Ravens and the Broncos.

Next stop: at Colts.

3. The TennesseeTitans (9-4) are doing well.

The Colts could lose to the Pats and the Texans could lose to theSteelers this week, which would allow Tennessee to win the division. The top spot in the AFC is still up for grabs. The head-to-head between the Chiefs and theTitans is currently tied, but the Pats have an advantage in the conference record. The rest of the schedule is the easiest in the league, with the exception of the Dolphins and Texans.

Next stop: at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

4. The Baltimore Ravens are 8-5

The Ravens have lost two in a row in the division and have fallen from the top seed to fourth. Baltimore's remaining schedule is among the league's toughest. The Ravens don't feel like they are a playoff team at the moment, even though their lead in the division is down to one game.

Next up is the Packers.

5. The Los Angeles Chargers are 8-6)

The Bolts lost the biggest game they've played in years on Thursday night, but they're in a good position for a wild-card playoff spot. It would be their second trip to the playoffs in the past eight years. They had a chance to overtake the Chiefs in the AFC West, but it will require help from a team that has closed out playoff positions in the past.

Next up: at Texans.


Herbert threw a pass to Allen in the fourth quarter.

6. The Indianapolis Colts are 4-7.

The Colts are in a good position for a wild-card spot because of the head-to-head sweep the Colts have against the Titans. They'll need to run a gauntlet over the next two weeks, starting with games against the Pats and Cards. A 2-2 split might be enough.

Next up: New England.

7. The Buffalo Bills are 7-6)

The Bills went from the top of the conference to barely making the playoffs. They're not getting the outcomes you would expect from a team with a playoff run, but only one of their losses has been by more than one score. The Bills have one game left against a team with a winning record, and the FPI is giving Buffalo a good chance to hang onto one of the wild-card spots.

Next up is the Carolinas.

In the hunt for the football team.

The Cleveland Browns are 4-7.

If the Ravens were to win the title, the head-to-head tie-breaker would be eliminated by the Browns. Yes, the Browns are in both the divisional and wild-card mix. The Raiders are at home on Saturday.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 4-7.

The losses to the 49ers and the Chargers have taken a toll on the Cincinnati's playoff chances. They will face another team on Sunday.

The Denver Broncos are 7-6)

The Broncos have won four of their past six games and have a chance to jump another playoff contender when they take on the Bengals on Sunday afternoon.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-6

The remaining games for the Steelers are against the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens, the Ravens Their elimination from playoff contention is the only thing left.

The NFC is a part of the game.

1. The Green Bay Packers are 10-3)

The Packers are at the top of the conference thanks to the head-to-head tie-breaker. The good news can continue this week. If the Packers beat the Ravens or the Vikings lose to the Bears, they will win the division. The Packers can still make the playoffs if the Saints and 49ers lose. In a flawed league, the Packers have as good of a chance as any team to make a deep playoff run, and they have a few areas to shore up.

Next stop: at Ravens.

2. The Buccaneers are 10-3.

The loss of the Cards on Monday night allowed the Buccaneers to move up in the rankings. A win at home against the Saints would allow the Buccaneers to secure a playoff spot and the South. They can make the playoffs with losses to the Vikings and 49ers. The Saints have won all three regular-season meetings between these two teams since Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers. The Saints were beaten by the Bucs in the divisional playoffs.

Next up is the Saints.

3. The ArizonaCardinals (10-3) are doing well.

The result was disappointing but not a disaster for the team. If they had won against the Rams, they would have secured a playoff spot and given Arizona a chance to win the division title. The only thing left for the Cards to do is win at the Lions. The loss to Los Angeles was a blow to the Cards' hopes of having home-field advantage in the playoffs, but they are still perfect on the road this season. If the Vikings, 49ers, Packers and Falcons all lose, the Cards will be in the playoffs with losses by the Vikings and Saints.

Next stop: at the Lions.


Kyler Murray can lead the Cards to success even if DeAndre is out.

4. The Dallas Cowboys are 9-4.

The Cowboys have a three-game lead in the division, and they can wrap it up as early as this week. They will need to beat the Giants and then the Eagles. If the Cowboys won a strength-of-victory tie with the Eagles, they would need to win a strength-of-victory tie with five other teams.

The Cowboys' pending division title is likely to happen regardless of this week's events. The Cowboys need a win over the Giants, a loss by the 49ers, a loss by the Vikings, a loss by the Falcons, and a loss by the Saints to make the playoffs.

Next stop: at the Giants.

5. The Los Angeles Rams are 9-4.

The Rams are in the lead in the division. Los Angeles' chances of making the playoffs increased after the win, as the Rams have just an 10.3% chance to capture the division. The Rams' remaining schedule is tough and includes three opponents who are pushing for playoff spots, but Monday night's effort showed they are up to the challenge.

Next up: Seattle.

6. The 49ers are 7-6).

The 49ers' overtime victory in Cincinnati in Week 14 allowed them to put a game's worth of distance between them and the five teams with 6-7 records, and the FPI has their playoff odds at 77.3%. If they defeat the Falcons, they could put away one of those teams. The Niners have two more games left, against the Rams and the Texans.

Next up: Falcons.

Here's how the playoffs looks at the moment and what might happen in the future.

The picture and scenarios of the playoffs.

The interactive NFL Playoff Machine was created by ESPN.

The Football Power Index is a measure of standings.